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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Had a builder call me yesterday morning asking if the mess on the garage floor would clean up?

These guys called us in for a no advanced notice, 1000' site sand floor that had to be done as asap. We chose to work all weekend so as to not hold the rest of their crew up & not have anyone to have to work around. Sunday morning, on my way to the job, the homeowner calls & says the floors aren't quite dry. I'm already on my way & it's an hour one way, so I ask her to turn up the furnace & we'll run some errands to kill some time while it finishes drying.

We get to the site & there's a few spots still shiny, but nearly dry to the touch. So I crank the heat higher & get the fan blowing on the wet spots. Get it dried down, buff as usual, clean, recoat & head for home.

Now, back the the mess on the garage floor. I get pissed, because I assume during the cleanup of the varnish pan, my wife made a mess & forgot to tell me about it. We get to the job late yesterday, to see the mess. She didn't make it. Turns out, my backpack vac had combusted during the night after we left. Thankfully, the fire ran out of air & fuel, otherwise this post would be drastically different.

We've left dust in that vac every since we bought it over 3 years ago, never had an issue. Only thing I can think of as to why, is the rushing the drying of the finish left active solvent in the dust we vacuumed up & in the confines of the canister, got hot & ignited. Started with a brand new bag, so all that was in it, was the dust from buffing the floor.

I'm just thankful we didn't stash the vacuum in an off the hardwood room with a wooden floor, otherwise we'd be finding out just how good our insurance really is. Too frickin close for comfort.:censored:
 

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I caught my Henry canister on fire once sanding some floors. All I could figure happened was I hit a nail it screw in the floor and a few sparks flew up the vac hose into the saw dust and then 2hrs later my vac was full on smoking then flames started coming out. Just threw it in the yard and sprayed it down.

Like you I was lucky I did not leave it in the house at end of the night.
 

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Focusing on solutions.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I caught my Henry canister on fire once sanding some floors. All I could figure happened was I hit a nail it screw in the floor and a few sparks flew up the vac hose into the saw dust and then 2hrs later my vac was full on smoking then flames started coming out. Just threw it in the yard and sprayed it down.

Like you I was lucky I did not leave it in the house at end of the night.
I had a bag on a sander catch fire once years ago. I know for a fact it was from a nail spark, because we were sanding over a face nailed enclosed fir porch floor.

Lesson learned then, never leave dust in a sander bag when we leave. Lesson learned now, replacement bags for the vac are only $1. We'll never leave the job, or stow in the trailer with a used bag in the future. My wifes anal about that sort of thing, she'll make sure in the future.
 

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Boy, that really could have been a catastrophe. Spontaneous combustion is one of those things that are easily not taken into account; oily rags should always be placed in a covered metal container and never left in a pile out somewhere.

One a side note I spent a summer on my Grandparent's farm in southern Missouri and loved going into the giant barn there which had almost burned down because the hay or alfalfa had been put in when too wet and had spontaneously combusted, charring the huge timbers that made up the floor.
 

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Don
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your experience, my lesson learned. thanks for the story.
 
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I worked on a job where the homeowner sanded the pine floors after oiling them. I got there before him in the morning, smoke everywhere. There were two smoldering piles, one was the sander and the other a bag of the sanding dust.

So the cop of a little hick office interviews me like it's arson. I tell him about the sanding and spontaneous combustion. He doesn't believe me. The state fire marshall inspected it and told the homeowner that cop was a real Barney Fife.

My Dad told me years ago that A&P grocery stores has a series of fires because they threw sawdust on the oily floors.
 

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The Duke
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I used to rush my cabinet finishes. They'd pill up some on the sanding block, but not much. It leaves a chance for adhesion issues imo. If it doesn't powder up when I sand, it goes back on the rack. Every time.

Glad to hear that it was just a close call instead of disaster.
 

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Head Light Bulb Changer
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I had a similar situation 4-5 years ago. Threw the bag from the vac in the dumpster and couple hours later I get a call that the dumpster is on fire. I had to be us, because we were the only crew on site that day. Luckily the dumpster was away from the house and the fire dept got it put out quick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I used to rush my cabinet finishes. They'd pill up some on the sanding block, but not much. It leaves a chance for adhesion issues imo. If it doesn't powder up when I sand, it goes back on the rack. Every time.

Glad to hear that it was just a close call instead of disaster.
I'm the same way, if it don't powder up, I don't recoat. Everything powdered up nicely.


Here's the kick in the teeth to the builder. He called me first thing this morning. I asked him how it was going, he mumbled something about needing to put the puzzle pieces together, then said outloud he wasn't having a good morning. He wanted to know what time we left the job yesterday. I told him right at 5, & asked why he wanted to know. Turns out the low lifes hit his trailer & broke a window & walked on my freshly varnished floors. I just got off the phone with him & he said they stole all his cordless stuff outta the trailers. Figured he lost between $2-3K worth of tools. :censored::censored:

I quized him as to the floor damage & how much I'd have to fix. He said they broke a window in the garage & took one step straight down on the varnish & their second step they slid in the fresh varnish. The worthless bastards had to have broke in within an hour of us leaving. Broad daylight.:censored::censored::censored::censored:
 

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So glad to hear this didn't turn out any worse!:thumbup:


I am always very careful when it comes to these things anymore.

When I was a little kid I was with my dad staining a deck. He had a pickup with a cap, it was the middle of summer and about 80 degrees out.

I remember when we were done he just threw everything into the truck. On the way home we stopped to look at another deck. He sent me back to the truck to get a level or something and I opened the back and the rags just started to catch fire. We got them out just in time. I guess being a little kid it seemed like a huge deal too. If it was now I wouldn't even care:laughing:


Dave
 

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About 4 years ago, I had I fellow working with me. Great sander when he was straight, but pushed a few things too far.

One job we were working on was for a home owner who had put something like 4 coats of poly on his floor...in about 4 days, and for some reason, it still looked like garbage:laughing:

We roll in and fire up the big machine, and "Mark" went to town. I came back 15 minutes later (getting java for all) and there he was, bag smoldering while he was grinding merrily away.

I pointed it out to him, at which point he nearly panicked, but shut the machine down. We snatched the bag off, and of course, it was 5/4 full (the guidelines I learned are 1/3 = FULL. ) Off to the snow covered lawn out front, and douse it down with a hose while unloading the bag.

"Mark" is gone, but I still have the bag, with a singe mark repair in it.
 

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Glad to hear it turned out to be a minor incident. It's easy to forget how flammable and dangerous finishes and sawdust can be. Last Friday we had a real eye opener when the local drawer box manufacturer burned to the ground. The place was fully engulfed in a matter of minutes after what they believe was static electricity igniting solvent fumes. Thankfully everyone was able to make it out without injuries.
Fire breaks out at CCF Industries
 

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Livin the dream...
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That's pretty scary for sure all these smoldering stories. Does static electricity play a part here also?...considering that finish was dry?
I don't know but I know one guy who burnt his whole cabinet shop down with stain rags igniting and another who just about did (they only ignited in a bucket.) Throw those stain soaked rags outside always!
 

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Nail Driving Fool
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I don't know but I know one guy who burnt his whole cabinet shop down with stain rags igniting and another who just about did (they only ignited in a bucket.) Throw those stain soaked rags outside always!
I always throw them in the heat stove. If I can burn coal in that thing and not burn the shop down there is no way that a oil rag can hurt it.
 
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