Skip to comments.Md. man sets fire to home using torch to melt ice off front porch
Posted on 03/04/2014 7:31:15 AM PST by AngelesCrestHighway
It was a close call for one homeowner along Evans Street in Rockville trying to clear the ice off of his front steps.
[It was a] small fire on the outside of the house, said Assistant Chief Scott Goldstein of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue. The homeowner appeared to be using some type of torch device to melt ice near his front porch. He lit the siding on fire with a little bit of extension into the house.
Same kind of idiot that tries to burn the old Christmas tree in the fireplace.
Take away his barbecue — for his own safety.
Get the knives too.
But you have to admit, it did melt the ice off the front porch . . . .
My dad was a policeman. Seems one of the bright lights across town tried to do something similar. He used a bunson burner to melt ice off his siding. Of course the house cought fire under the siding and virtually burned to the ground! He laughed for days about that saying I can just hear his wife saying: Boy Marvin, you are real smart to do it that way, up until she saw the smoke.
I’ve got one of those flamethrowers. I use it to kill weeds that grow between my paving stones. This was the first year I tried it on the ever-present ice. With temperatures in the teens, I was able to melt ice, only to see it refreeze instantly, in a purer, more slippery farm. Basically, I turned the device into a portable Zamboni machine.
Used to live in CO mountains. Roof ice dams were very common.
Guys would climb up on an icy roof, sometime two or three stories up, and flail away at the ice with an ax or sledgehammer. And, yes, some tried the torch method.
Results were often not pretty.
And the Honey-O’s.
When I looked at the stack of firewood, I saw that they were using oleander cuttings, which are quite toxic. I gave 'em a heads up and we split for home early. (The guy didn't believe me, by the way.....)
Maryland will probably now regulate and tax all torch like devices. An entire department will be set up “protect the public” from the dangers and misues of such tools. lol
hahaha... the title alone made me chuckle out loud :)
Wouldn’t surprise me, starboard. This neighborhood is only about ten minutes or so from me. The ice on the roof isn’t that bad. We’ve had way worse. Sounds to me like the kind of person who gets rid of an ant hill (regular ants) with five gallons of gasoline and a Bic lighter. LOL!
Reminds me of an old cowpokes cartoon from about 50 years ago.
A cowpoke and his wife are standing in the snow. Around them is a pile of ashes which once was their house. All that is standing up is a kitchen faucet flowing lots of water.
The cowpoke says to his wife, “Don’t feel so bad! I got the pipes unfroze didn’t I!
I think you have to be drinking when you do it to have it work effectively.
My neighbors have ice dams all over their roof. They haven’t figured out why they have them and we don’t. lol
Yup. I did that once. Got a nice face full of Freon for my efforts. It's oilier than I would have guessed. The really bad part is it wasn't my fridge. I had to buy the guy a new one.
tries to burn the old Christmas tree in the fireplace.
People often say stupid should burn.
This is one case where it appears to have actually happened.
Or a flathead screwdriver. Never mind how I know.
The problem with the equipment is that it is pretty easy to use. Mine attaches to a regular propane tank, and you light it with one of those metallic spark devices, like the one the teacher used to light the Bunsen Burners in chem class. Once it’s lit, it becomes a very mechanical operation, like shoveling snow or raking leaves. You have to concentrate to remember that you have a potentially deadly device at your fingertips. The hose that connects the propane tank to the flamethrower is about 6 feet long. It wouldn’t take much imagination to burn through the hose and ignite more of the propane than you had in mind.
The common theory on ice dams is heat from the house melts the snow, it flows down to the cold eaves and freezes.
But there are other causes as well. We had a house with a sun room covered by a shed roof. The crawl space above sun room was extravagantly insulated and had big vents on either end to outside. That space was exactly ambient air temperature.
But, In Nov - March the sun on the lower half of the roof was blocked by the neighbors house. The sun, hitting the black upper roof would melt the snow and freeze when it got to the shaded portion. In march when the sun hit the whole roof again, no problem.
So the only solution was to keep the shaded are shoveled, after every snow.
There were some maintenance workers in Austin who did that during the last big freeze.
BTW, I loved the old cowpoke jokes.
Must be a “Dragon” — I’ve looked into buying one to get rid of stubborn weeds, seems like a good idea. No chemicals, just good clean flames and the weeds are gone instantly. I never thought for a moment about using it to melt ice. It might be dangerous in knucklehead hands ... you could set your house on fire, or your dog, or the mailman. Yike!
Look - it’s just that time of winter when it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. You get crazy. I stopped taking a double-bit ax to my sidewalk ice when a little voice told me it wasn’t an altogether intelligent thing to do.
And I think it was a squirrel.
That is understandable with all the snow the midwest and east coast has gotten...Gotta get out and do something!
Heat tapes, salt, and hot water are some of the things that I used to use when I lived in the snow country.
Salt is nasty on trim though. So, about the only thing that really worked was to melt holes through several places along the thing to let the water drain. That and get up there and shovel off the roof. But, I have seen people shovel upwards taking off their shingles. The one place to pay attention to, is where the chimney comes out of the roof. That and vent pipes.
I’ve tried a torch for an ice dam and a kerosene torpedo heater for a snow bank at the end of the driveway. What can I say? I’m a big time tinkerer. Didn’t take long in both cases to realize that cold beats heat.
In this case, the primary problem is they just don’t bother to ever clean out their gutters.
This house didn’t have gutters, on that roof. That was the FIRST thing I got rid of.
Having played around with various thermal methods of melting driveway/sidewalk ice, I am reminded of some basics from high school physics:
1) Temperature is not the same thing as heat.
2) “Heat of Fusion” is huge.
3) Pure water freezes at 32F (0C); salty water freezes at a much lower temperature.
Mechanical and chemical methods of ice removal are just more effective than thermal methods.
Yup. In both cases I mentioned it took about 3 seconds to realize it was a waste of time. Like many things, it worked much better in my mind prior to actually trying.
Or the guy who tried to warm up his gasoline on the stove to fix a frozen gas line in his car.
If you can’t do it with duct tape or WD-40, don’t do it.
Used to live in big snow country.
Most people had these big alumnimum rake things that were used to rake show off the eaves. Had to get it before it melted and refroze, and in a really big snowfall you’d have to pull the show off several times. But you could get back on the eaves about four feet.
Potentially an excellent way to electrocute yourself, BTW.
However, I have enough electrical know-how to do that part myself.
Sounds like a Barbara Mikulsi voter.
famous last words...
It is a bit of a balancing act: You definitely want to use it on the big snows (8" plus) but need to be careful about overusing it on the smaller snows (less than 4") as you run the risk of scraping shingles along with the snow.
I NEVER dig deep. If you run into any resistance, ease off immediately. I always rake as is I intend to leave at least 3/4" on the roof. Here in SW Pennsylvania with a NORMAL winter and dark roof tiles, the sun will help out with the balance anyway and leave you with a thin coating of ice to protect your shingles from future rake jobs.
But when my significant other heard about it, she raised the roof. "YOU DID WHAT!!!!!" she shrieked. I said I don't know how else I was going to unfreeze the thing. She said I could have used a hairdrier. Or waited until the weather warmed up. But that would have meant standing in the garage in subzero weather for a period of time. She then said I could have waited until the weather warmed up. I said, but what if we got a foot of snow? Did she want me to get a heart attack shoveling our huge driveway? She's still seething. But it did work.
I’ve got plenty of WD-40. What temp does it freeze at?
Oh, yeah. I have metal roofing everywhere but the gazebo, which nearly collapsed under the snow load a couple of years ago. Got a snow rake and learned the one lesson you always learn the hard way with them: do not stand directly underneath the snow mass you’re trying to bring down. I had approximately half a second to reflect on how stupid I am before the snow impacted... :-(
Another thing: use nowhere even close to where the power lines enter the house . . . even if you think you are a safe distance away. The natural bowing in the aluminum pipe extensions plus the stress put on the rake in moving snow plus the changing winds plus your tiring arms and wrists can give the thing AMAZING recoil.
Yeah, you will leave an arc of snow on the roof in that vicinity. But the risks of getting it off just aren't worth it.