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Nearest you came to Disaster

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  • Nearest you came to Disaster

    What is the closest you ever came to a real disaster while plumbing.


    I was in my second year as an apprentice ( 4 years overall ) and the boss sent me out on a leak in a house in the second floor bathroom, the owner had called and was headed out to work and left the house open.

    As I enter the house and find my way to the bathroom I find the toilet was leaking so I pulled the tank lid and noticed that the ballcock was warped and running, I reach down to turn to stop off and its hot.

    I go down into the basement where the water heater is and realize its the oldest thing I ever saw, the element looks like a spring wrapped around the tank.
    As I am looking at this dinosaur I realize that the relief valve has a plug in it, I trip the breaker on my way up the steps and open the kitchen faucet as I head towards the door.
    It took less than an instant to fill the kitchen with steam to within 3' of the floor.
    After that I found pictures of the results of a catastrophic water heater failure, I am very cautious these days.
    sigpic
    www.uandiplumbing.com

  • #2
    Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

    Flooded a movie theater.
    Almost burned a house down cutting into gas with skilsaw.
    Almost got buried by a loose 6' ditch.
    Backhoe popped a 2" gas line.
    Jabbed a digging bar into 1 leg of a 220 house feed.

    Dared to pet Utah's HELLCAT.

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    • #3
      Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

      Coming down expressway in my two ton dump, hydraulic brakes, hear loud BOOM! thought it was carb loading up, get 1/4 mile down the road BOOM! the truck starts to lean heavy right,

      I was just weighed at a gravel plant @ 39,914 pounds and if D.O.T. knew it, I'd be jail time. Trucks GVW was 27,500 LOL!!!

      I was lucky, was able to steer it to a stop but months earlier a tandem flipped over in the same spot with a load of sand. Some dude that looked like Tele-Savales gave me a ride home so I could get $400 for two recaps.

      Same job I delivered the bank run to, fell back into a footer that was being poured and the guy behind me ran out of rebar stakes he was putting in as uprights right behind me while I was screeding off, putting a keyway into the footer.



      Got plenty of others, too tired to post anymore. Repressed memory is a *****.
      Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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      • #4
        Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

        1. I was up in an attic during a copper replumb about 10-feet away one of my guys who was sweating in a new Delta T&S valve down below. There was visqueen on the back of the plumbing wall from the mud sill all the way to the roof. I had told him to open the back side of the wall rather than risk catching the visqueen on fire. All of a sudden I saw a flash and I had 6' flames in the attic. I jumped down from the attic and headed for a 5-gallon bucket of water I had staged at the front door. By the time I got back into the attic it was already over as once the visqueen was gone the fire went out. It turned out my guy decided to save a drywall patch and was working from the original hole in the tile rather than from the backside.

        2. Early Saturday morning I was headed to Cher's home in the Malibu Colonies. I had a Ford with a 12' Skaug rough in body on it. The truck was a monster with a full 2" pipe rack including the cattle guard out front. Heading through the Malibu Canyon I hit the brakes and the truck did not even slow. I looked down at my boot and it was covered in brake fluid. I pumped the heck out of the truck and finally got it stopped. It turned out the master cylinder came apart so I had to be towed in.

        3. A month or so after my brakes had gone out in the rough in truck I was driving the same truck home from a project in Bel Air and was headed north bound down the Sepulveda grade of the 405 during rush hour. I went to hit my brakes and the pedal fell against the firewall and stayed there. I started jamming gears and heading to the right. I finally got in to the emergency lane but still had no way to stop the truck. I realized the Ventura Freeway was coming up quick and I was going to be headed into merging traffic so I headed for a palm tree. I stopped about 40-feet into a planted area just before the palm tree I had aimed for. I looked under the dash to see what had gone wrong and the mechanic must not have tightened the bolt that held the brake pedal linkage to the master cylinder as I found the nut and bolt on the floor. It was a long time after than before I ever let a mechanic other than me work on one of my trucks.

        Mark
        Last edited by ToUtahNow; 02-07-2009, 12:19 AM.
        "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

        I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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        • #5
          Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

          Mark you just reminded me.
          While runing copper under the house on a remodel
          The dryer vent had completely separated covering the entire area with a thick layer of lint.
          That stuff is like gunpowder with it's flash rate,it rolled out a fire radius over ten feet in diameter in a little over a second.Thank goodness it doesn't hold a flame,it was out before I could get pointed towards the access.
          Big scare.

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          • #6
            Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

            Originally posted by ToUtahNow View Post
            1.
            I looked under the dash to see what had gone wrong and the mechanic must not have tightened the bolt that held the brake pedal linkage to the master cylinder as I found the nut and bolt on the floor. It was a long time after than before I ever let a mechanic other than me work on one of my trucks.
            Mark
            Now do not forget that this happens in other trades and one of the reasons there are DIY's in this world,
            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
            attributed to Samuel Johnson
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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            • #7
              Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

              Thanks All,
              Here is another one of mine, I was moving a water heater from one location to another in this house, all that was left was to solder up the joints under the floor. The whole time I'm fitting up the copper under the house I notice that there is a sticky substance on the insulation, no biggie. I spark the torch and swing it up to the first joint and the stickie flashed, what the ..... I beat the he## out of the flames with my wipe rag and did manage to get control.

              Back when I started as a plumbers helper in SoCal, It was in my first year and I had run the helper off from the shops top journeyman plumber as I wanted that position and the helper had no vision of the future.

              We headed out of the shop that morning and the roads were busy, driving a 78 chevy 3/4 ton rough in truck with the monster utility box with the pipe threader built in near the cab and the bins full of fittings, in those times '88, gvw was not much of a concern. Anyway to help displace some of the weight they installed a set of duels on the back of that truck, but I don't think they extended/beefed up the studs on the rear axles. As we are headed for the job site @ the 40 mph speed limit the driver side duels seperated, the outside duel headed out accross the desert and the inside duel went back under the utility box and launched the back end of that truck high enough that the guy behind us exclaimed that he could see the whole underside of the truck, as it came back down my Journeyman made for the side of the road and stopped. The pipe machine and fittings were all on the driver side, fittings were scattered for 50 yds along the side of the road.
              sigpic
              www.uandiplumbing.com

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              • #8
                Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                I was driving a one ton flat bed, with about 25 lengths of 2" black strapped to the headache rack. I took the inside lane of a dual left turn at a light, and instantly realized the load wasn't strapped so good. I lost the entire load of pipe into the parallel turning lane. Lucky for me, it was just after rush hour and the lane was empty. That pipe would have caved the roof of any car. Also the company number was on the truck, so my boss knew about it about 5 minuts after
                West Trail Mechanical Ltd
                Service. Commitment. Expertise.

                www.westtrailmechanical.ca

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                • #9
                  Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                  Reading your stories brought back memories. I think I've had similar experiences to most of those listed (except for the break failures). I do have a good truck story though. It must have been in 1971 because my brother Todd was about 14 years old. My other brother and I wanted to shoot some hooks in the driveway, so we told Todd to move Dad's '65 Chevy PU on to the street. Since this was one of the few opportunities he got to get behind the wheel, Todd eagerly obliged us. Except this time as he was pulling up to the curb, he rammed the curb side front tire into the concrete at a 45ยบ angle. When we stopped laughing I went over to the truck and asked his what he thought he was doing. He said the steering wheel must be broken because the wheels wouldn't respond when he turned it. Frustrated with his answer, I opened the door and pushed him out of the way. Then I grabbed the wheel and give it a tug. Out comes the wheel with about 2' of sheering column attached. The thought of that happening on the highway still makes me shudder.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                    I was hand digging under the foundation of a soon to be red lobster for a sewer with a back hoe operator on the other side of the foundation from me when he reached over the foundation to scrape out under the foundation I was digging under. The teeth off the bucket caught me and started dragging me toward the foundation wall where I was going to be split in two.
                    My man on top of the trench had no idea the operator did not know I was there so my man on the look out for me thought the 49'er was kidding.The Operator was feeling to scrape up against the foundation and that would have been it for me.My lookout man finally stopped him with a quarter inch to go before I was done.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                      The other time is when the welders dropped sparks on a massive pile of garbage in a 10 screen movie theater we were doing and made a massive fire of the thing.A sparky running the Lull was on his game and was able to reach in and grab the thing and drag it out on to the dirt and let it burn out.Thank god it was in some big a$$'ed crate.Many of all our *still* boxed up deliveries were close to that pile.
                      Last edited by Jay Mpls; 02-07-2009, 08:07 PM. Reason: curses.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                        Originally posted by Jay Mpls View Post
                        I was hand digging under the foundation of a soon to be red lobster for a sewer with a back hoe operator on the other side of the foundation from me when he reached over the foundation to scrape out under the foundation I was digging under. The teeth off the bucket caught me and started dragging me toward the foundation wall where I was going to be split in two.
                        My man on top of the trench had no idea the operator did not know I was there so my man on the look out for me thought the 49'er was kidding.The Operator was feeling to scrape up against the foundation and that would have been it for me.My lookout man finally stopped him with a quarter inch to go before I was done.
                        I SH!TCHU KNOTT!!!

                        I have dreams about getting caught up in heavy epuipment all the time.
                        Freaks me out.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                          There *may* have been some "heroic" drinking that evening to calm one mans nerves.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                            #1 SHOT AT #2 .shot gun in Mouth, Blues #3 1980, Way to much booze, ran My 69 ford wagon in Catching Slough, Coos Bay Oregon around Midnight , Feb 10 th My older Brothers birthday.15 ft under water ,upside down BLACK AND COLD. I'm an ex diver,that helped. Lord guided Me through missing windshield. Stopped 2 loggers" Ran My car in the slew,back seat empty,not another Ted Kennedy,can You run Me up to My shack? Sheriff next day. We'll send a diver and wrecker to retrive,and bill You. " I am a diver! No gear at all on the west coast. No mask, flippers, Nada Took wrecker hook ,Ice cold water, dove down hooked on A frame wrecker retrived it . Today is a gift thanks LORD!
                            I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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                            • #15
                              Re: Nearest you came to Disaster

                              As DIO put 'er.....Holy diver!

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