Opinion

Kovac: Leave the soldering to a professional

Posted 7/6/21

The Sun City Fire and Medical Department has documented an increase in residential home fires. One of the noted sources of the increase in fires has been correlated to the soldering of pipes when making home repairs.

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Opinion

Kovac: Leave the soldering to a professional

Posted

The Sun City Fire and Medical Department has documented an increase in residential home fires. One of the noted sources of the increase in fires has been correlated to the soldering of pipes when making home repairs.

Soldering fires generally occur when soldering copper pipes outside or inside of a wall. The heat travels along the pipe during the repair or installation (conductive heat). In most instances, the pipe is surrounded by flammable or combustible materials, such as insulation and wood framing. The high-level conductive heat can quickly ignite all flammable material where heated pipes are in contact with combustible materials or the flame from the heat source (torch — radiant heat) is in contact with combustible material.

Once it starts to burn, the fire moves too fast for an individual to stop the burning.

When soldering of pipes is necessary, here are some safety tips.

  • Use a licensed contractor.
  • Have the contractor take all precautions to expose the copper pipe to minimize heat transfer to combustible materials.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand and easily accessible.
  • Check the work area before closing the workspace and ensure the location and material are cooled before the contractor leaves the worksite.

The damage from this type of fire can be extensive if the heat travels up the wall into the attic areas. Generally, the electric meter needs to be removed if the wiring is damaged, which makes the home uninhabitable for a period of time during repair. This period can be anywhere between 6-12 months.

Most homes in Sun City were built in the 1960s-1970s. The wood, insulation and drywall are very dry, increasing the chances of fire.

If a fire breaks out in your home, deadly smoke and heat build quickly, making every second count.

A working smoke alarm will alert you to the danger and may mean the difference between life and death. Install and maintain smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside each bedroom and on each level of your house.

Create an escape plan and practice it with everyone in your home. In case of fire, get out and stay out — let the fire department do its job.

To learn more, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at usfa.fema.gov.

Please remain safe.

Editor’s Note: Kenny Kovac is Sun City assistant fire marshal.

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