Saturday, February 8, 2014

How to burn down your wellhouse

The wellhouse here is an old building that contains all of the apparatus for the pump and water treatment.  Unfortunately, the setup isn't my favorite, or even good.  They built the building and poured a concrete floor, and then ran the pipes in from the side.    So the pipe comes out of the ground, goes up about 10", and then turns and goes into the wellhouse.

That exposed bit of pipe can freeze, and I've had to repair/thaw the pipes a couple of times.  Except this time I nearly burned down my wellhouse.

The main water pipe that supplies water to the barns is a 1" galvanized pipe, and it transitions to a plastic pipe after it rises of the ground.  The plastic froze and shattered, so I removed the broken pieces and made a new pipe.  But the steel pipe going through the wall still had ice in it.

So I took a propane torch and working from the open side of the pipe heated it a little so that when I restored the pipe the water would flow.  After doing that from inside, I went outside and did the same.  Only I noticed when I was outside that there was a flickering light inside.  Odd, I thought.

When they built this wellhouse they used tongue-and-groove 1x6 boards on the outside, then 2x2 wall studs, and then a piece of plywood on the inside.  Between the studes they stuffed old paper sugar sacks.  Bone dry paper crusted with sugar.  My torch had lit this paper, and it was burning inside the wall!

The water was off... but i had a busted pipe right there.  So i grabbed a 5 gallon bucket and turned the water on long enough to get a bucket, and then tried... to...  i couldn't get to the flames.  it was between the wall panels.  and now smoking pretty good.  flames licking the ceiling.

I ran over to my shop, grabbed my chainsaw and ran back.  Alternating between pulling on the cord and cursing.  "damn!  start!  damn!  start!  "  5 pulls and an eternity later it started and i quickly cut a hole in the wall between the studs.  When I opened the wall flames shot out..  7 buckets later it was steaming but out.

Don't insulate your buildings with paper.  and install fire blocking!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's amazing you could open the fire up to air, yet still have time to put it out with water. Very lucky!
I'm sure you got an adrenaline buzz out of the deal.