I am considering ways to deal with the cold Indiana weather coming
up…my studio is in an unattached garage that gets very chilly. My
husband offered a kerosene heater but I am concerned about an open
flame and meeting possible gas leaks. Besides that kerosene is dirty,
smelly and expensive. My gas company says they can install a
rafter-mounted gas heater that would tap into the propane tank outside
the garage that they would consider safe to have around a tank and
torch…but they want about what I want to spend on a new buffer. I
have a room in the basement of the house that would work well for a
studio, closer to a source of water and with a window nearby to vent
fumes through. What advice can anyone give about gas tanks in the
house? Or soldering in the house? I’m not concerned but I want to know
that I’m informed before I make a decision. Also, does anyone know how
insurance companies view this kind of activity in a house? Thanks much
everyone, Jenifer Shepherd
I am considering ways to deal with the cold Indiana weather coming
Hey Jenifer, My Insurance agent told me that I have to carry a
seperate policy or rider if I have my shop in the house. If my shop
would be the cause of fire or explosion damaging my home it would void
my existing homeowners without the extra coverage. Bummer, but the
extra policy is not too bad, and it’s deductable at year end. Good
What advice can anyone give about gas tanks in the house? Or soldering in the house? Also, does anyone know how insurance companies view this kind of activity in a house?
I don’t have a problem with having a soldering tank in my house.
However, my insurance company would drop me if they thought I did.
If there is a problem and there is fire or other calamity in a
house-based commercial (as opposed to hobby) studio your homeowners
will not cover you. This is the one of the reasons why I am building
a new studio in an outbuilding next year. The other problem with
soldering/having a studio in a house is ventalation. A house is not
made to have as much air pulled out of it as a proper, active
ventalation system will pull. Be especially wary of this if you have
a gas water heater or furnace as you could be pulling carbon monoxide
into your house.
All in all, I suggest spending a little money on insulation as well
as heat and keeping your studio out of your house. Also, think of
the amount of time away from your bench you will spend moving.
Acetylene is preferred over propane for gas use inside a structure
due to the density relative to air. Propane for example is not allowed
for use on ships where acetylene is allowed. Keep the quantity down-
only one cylinder in the house. Don’t accept cylinders from a vender
that are rusty , dented or appear to have been rusted and painted
over. To be really safe test all connections with a soapy solution for
bubble leaks. a weak solution of a foaming liquid dishwashing
detergent ( Joy ) is great .There will be small screw plugs in the
top of the cylinder and in the bottom of the cylinder that might leak.
Usually these would not cause a problem. Try to keep away from really
old cylinders and the paint condition is a good guide to that. Shut the
cylinder off when you are not using it and bleed the system per
instructions you should be able to get from your gas supplier. In
Indiana (where there? ) Praxair may be the best supplier for
acetylene - having good safe filling practices and cylinder inspection
Work on a fireproof surface best in a hooded vented soldering area
with fireproof side and back walls ( tile backer board is good ) .
This also allows you to have reduced controlled lighting when
soldering so you can observe metal color.
Keep solvents and paint away in tight covered containers preferably
in a metal cabinet. Don’t allow combustibles to build up in the area
Get all the safety stuff you can get free from your gas supplier and
read it. Jesse
I have used an oxy acetylene torch in my apartment and 2 different
homes for the last 20 years. As long as you exercise all standard and
usual precautions for working with any torches you shouldn’t have a
problem. I would not expect your insurance company to respond
Jenifer, As a survivor and escapee of cold Indiana winters ( Do you
remember Xmas of the early 80’s at 50F below 0??) I can give my exp.
of 2 cents worth My Indiana experience was more to due with
motorcycles and sculpture as I didn’t encounter jewelry until I went
to school in Chicago, but we worked in many an outdoor garage or shop.
The ‘best’ path of least resistance I can think of to warm up out
there is a woodstove. Cheap, easy to fuel and warm, warm. My grandpa
in Fort Wayne has an open-top hearth for blacksmithing he keeps stoked
and that is amazing. If the woodstove isn’t the way for you, please
disregard, but I sure feel your pain
Formerly of Farmland, IN now Vashon Island, WA
Just for safety’s sake we tiled the area around the torch (about a 4’
x 4’ cubic area). Also, you’re supposed to check with the local fire
code laws, but of course not everyone does. Keep a fire extinguisher
in the area and make sure you have good venilation. Make sure that
the tank is bungee-corded to something so it’s stable and can’t fall over.
Hope this helps. Quik.
Thanks for your response. Will definitely need to check out the fire
codes for my area - hadn’t done that (just moved here). What do you
term good ventilation? I have an 18’ long wall of windows and open
several of them, placing a large floor fan in front of the windows
(blowing out the window) - to keep the air circulating - will that
work? Interested in others’ solutions. I am not soldering for long
periods at a time. Maybe intermittent soldering over the couse of an evening. Thanks.
Just for safety's sake we tiled the area around the torch Make sure that the tank is bungee-corded to something so it's stable and can't fall over.
G’day; I prefer a chain for my oxygen cylinder, and if I used
acetylene I’d chain that too. I actually use propane which is a
little squat container difficult to knock over even if you felt like
it (I’ve kicked mine a few times) Another suggestion I think is
important is to have your gas cylinder keys on a short length of
chain bolted at the other end to the gauge(s) Why? Well if Murphy’s
Law works one day, someone may have to rush about trying to find the
key to shut off the gas flow. Why chain? So it isn’t easy to 'borrow’
the fastening and leave it somewhere.
When I was Laboratory Steward at a University, I insisted that every
cylinder had to have the key chained to the gauges, and also had to
be chained to the bench. Oh yes - I used to wander around the labs
every so often with a spring balance and a trolley full of recently
filled CO2 fire extinguishers, weighing and replacing any that had
been used. Why CO2? Because if students did something daft (No,
never, surely not?) an extinguisher was immediately to hand - and one
that MADE NO MESS!!! My theory was that if these were the powder
(bicarbonate) extinguishers the perpetrators of fires may hesitate
too long to use them for fear of consequences of The Boss seeing the
mess… With the CO2 variety The fire was invariably out in
seconds and no one the wiser! By the way, we had a fire roughly every
three weeks or so, usually of a solvent. Cheers, – John Burgess;
@John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ