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The dangers of DIY car repairs

WCVB report: Massive blaze rips through furniture warehouse in Brockton (MA). Firefighters said the owner of the building was working on a car when it may have backfired, sparking the blaze. He and a friend were able to get out and they were not injured. The flames spread quickly due to the dry wood in the building and strong winds in the area, officials said.

A TV report said they were working on the carburetor. and a backfire set some fuel burning.

In the news last week some guy burnt down his garage doing soething similar with a leaf blower.

Growing up, there was a guy on our street who had been doing car repairs in the garage in his home. The way he worked was to leave lots of gas-n-oil soaked rags and parts lying around.

When he and his wife returned home one night after dinner, as he opened the door, the garage suddenly burst into flames. Apparently something about opening the door triggered a spark in the fume-filled garage.

Years ago I caused a fire on an engine that I had just completed a valve job on. The fuel line into the carburetor was leaking, and all it took was one backfire through the carburetor to set it off.

Man burns down his garage deep frying a turkey for Thanksgiving… Film at 11

A few years ago here in OK some guy burnt his home down while cleaning some car parts with gasoline on top of the kitchen range.

At some point in the cleaning process he decided to turn on one of the burners to heat up something for lunch. Luckily he escaped with minor burns.

Once was bad enough but about a year later some other guy did the same thing.

Another odd one was a lady who was living in a 3 BR brick rental home. She decided to set off quite a few bug bombs and left the house for the afternoon while they did their job.
Per the usual she did not read the explicit warnings about turning off gas pilot lights, clock radios, fans, the central heat and air unit, etc.

The ensuing explosion when the A/C kicked on almost wiped the house out. All of the windows and front door was blown out, a lot of sheetrock and kitchen cabinetry was blown loose and left hanging, and the 16’ overhead garage door was blown clean off of its tracks and thrown halfway down the drive.

No word on whether her landlord renewed the lease… :wink:

Don’t forget the safety glasses, had to have xrays done before an mri as I could not guarantee I had no metal slivers in my eyes.

Nice post @ok4450

The first story… SOME people never learn, amazing he’s still alive!

The second story… tested on Mythbusters a few years ago with great success. I suppose it DID kill the bugs, too!

@ok4450 … Didn’t know that about bug bombs. I had used them many times when I had a house in Franconis NH. I thought I had read the instructions, but apparently not.

I guess they can “bomb” more than just bugs!
Thanks for the warning.

The guy in Mass was in his 70’s. He’s probably been working on cars for 50+ years. Sometimes stuff just happens. My thoughts are with him. Thank God he’s okay.

Two of my favorite car TV shows had me worried: First, Fantomworks had a suspension problem on a car while setting up their SEMA booth - they jacked it up with a floor jack and the main guy started yanking on the suspension while under the car, not a jack stand in sight. YIKES.

The other one was this week on Wheeler Dealers, Edd was testing fuel injectors by watching the spray patterns as he pumped gas through them while in the garage. Must have been LOTS of gas fumes.

JoeMario: Petroleum soaked rags are quite hazardous. The garage fire could have been a spark from a garage door opener igniting fumes or spontaneous combustion with the rags at the smolder stage and the sudden oxygen increase from opening the door causing them to burst into flames. It would not be a bad idea for DIYs to study OSHA regulations concerning maintenance/repair shops.

Using concrete blocks to hold up a jacked-up car - especially if the part resting on the block is resting on a small area of the block. The block can crumble in a moment without any warning.

I’ve seen guys use tree stumps as jack stands

Some guy and his wife were cleaning carpet glue residue off their basement floor USING GASOLINE when the furnace kicked on. Unfortunately they were killed along with several family members at home…ignorance kills…

Years ago, they were throwing out two of those rag buckets at work. I promptly glommed onto them and use them at home. All greasy rags go in there. If you forget to close them, they will automatically close if a fire starts and the lid mechanism detects the heat- closes the lid automatically. Priceless peace of mind…

Years ago, guys were showing me that gasoline works great to clean wheel bearings, before repacking them

+1 to @sgtrock21 . The rags were probably smoldering for a while, creating smoke and becoming oxygen starved, open the garage door which adds oxygen and you get a big boom.

When I was a kid I had a friend die/burn to death while painting a table in their garage. The doors were closed and the paint thinner fumes blew up probably from the light switch spark. Pretty sad.

I just finished repainting a dresser. I did it in the garage with the door open. Today’s paint are a lot safer, but no one should do painting in an unventilated basement with a spark ignition furnace ready to blow up the place.

This type of thing can even happen to professionals.
In my township, there is an indy VW specialist, and–as you might imagine–he gets a LOT of business.
Well, about 6 months ago, he was welding something or other on the chassis of an old Beetle, and was not aware that the car’s gas line had a small amount of seepage. The owner of the decrepit VW on which he was working had…somehow…managed to avoid mentioning the gas leak.

Yes, unfortunately, his shop was destroyed, but at least the guy escaped with his life–even if he did suffer some burn injuries.
He is currently rebuilding his shop, and I hope to see him back in business in a few months.

DIY’er repairing cars is definitely a job that deserves full att’n to safety. Same goes for the pros. Gasoline is an incredibly explosive substance. Pound for pound I expect it compares favorably for explosive power to other chemical explosives. In the future, when presumably all cars are electric powered, people will sit around the kitchen table talking, saying how crazy those people back in the 20th and 21st century were, driving around in their cars acting like there’s nothing to worry about, all the while practically sitting on 20 gallon gasoline bombs.