I'm not new to sweating copper tubing and using a propane torch. The other day I noticed a joint leaking in my basement and thought I'd replace the fitting. A job that wouldn't take more than an hour or two I thought.
After getting materials & tools, I went to light the torch and as I scr-aped the striker in front of it, a flame started & instantly a fireball appeared. I dropped the torch out of reflex & it rolled next to a box of old clothes.
A flame was pouring out of the side of the torch & I realized either had to get it out of here or my house was going to burn down. As I grabbed the torch and made my way out of the basement I was able to keep the flame behind me mostly as I ran. I got upstairs, opened a sliding glass door and heaved it into the back yard. Then I ran back to the basement to see if anything caught fire. Luckily nothing had except for a singed ballet tutu.
I went back outside & thought of trying to put it out, but decided I didn't want to get near it & just let it burn.
I had the hair burned off my hand & some of my arm and a not too bad burn on my index finger. All a small price to pay for still having a house. The torch burned in the back yard for 45 minutes. I think the valve failed and that's where the gas was coming from.
The plumbing repair was a fiasco for other reasons and I finally was able to turn the water on the next day.
Re: Propane torch
Thanks, ed---for taking the time to post a very interesting report, and to let us know you survived an event that could have turned out very differently except for you quick thinking.
We've all enjoyed your thoughtful posts over the years, and know you to be a stand-up guy that always has constructive things to say about the issues at hand---may you be around for many more years to come!
When you feel better & have taken the time to rest, I hope you take the time to Google "U.S Consumer Products Safety Commission" and "Consumer Reports" and advise them of what happened to file an on-line report of the brand name & model # of the propane torch so that they can warn a much wider audience of consumers & perhaps issue a recall on the product, if they deem it warranted.
Last edited by brewster; 05-23-2013 at 04:40 PM.
Re: Propane torch
This experience demonstrates the risks of DIY. It sounds like the torch malfunctioned and started a fire. Still, you're lucky not to sustain injuries.
Be careful out there.