I was wondering how many of you work from a home studio, and whether
you have any special insurance to cover flammable gas in the house. I
have one acetylene tank about 18 inches tall in my basement, that’s
it, but my guess is that would void fire coverage on my homeowner’s
policy, I know I didn’t disclose that. Are there any insurance
companies you work with that cover this kind of thing, or maybe allow
riders on the policy for home studios that have hazardous materials
of some sort? I don’t even think we’re supposed to be running a
business out of the house according to our policy, as low key as it
is. I think the tank is unlikely to be the source of a fire, but
could exacerbate one that might happen for different reasons. An
out-building or separate studio is not in the budget anytime soon…
You may be in violation of certain city regulations about acetylene.
Each city has its own set of rules. My rules are different than
Here’s what to do. Go to a pay phone somewhere. Don’t call from a
phone that can be traced. Call the Fire Marshal of your city. Tell
them you are using the acetylene in your home. Do not tell them who
you and where you are. If they know where you are, they may come a
knocking on your door. Ask them about acetylene. They may know
nothing. You might be able to find this online, but I doubt
it.Commercial buildings pull permits for inspection of any
combustible fuel. You may be in a code violation in your home. I
myself do not like anyone telling me what to do in my own home. Does
it sound like I have issues with inspectors here? And no, I do not
own a gun. Part of the problem we face is that we are such a small
community (jewelry making), inspector know very little about what is
allowed in residential property.
If you find out that you are in violation and do nothing you are
talking your chances about consequences. A fire could cause you a
world of grief.
The fire marshal would now inspect a fire for cause. If you are in
violation of the fire code and the cause of a fire, your insurance
company may deny coverage. This is a real bad situation. I don’t have
experience with any fire to give an example. I have just never had
any incident which is a good track record. I have at one time set
myself on fire. But that is another story!
This is one of the reason I use propane. I do not violate any fire
code (in my city) if the propane tank is under one pound in volume. A
refillable camper or barbeque propane tank is in violation. It’s too
big. The one pound disposable tank surprisingly last a long time and
only costs approximately three to four dollars. I keep spares around
when I run out. A plumbers propane torch that screws to the top of
the tank is probably not going to work well enough for fine soldering
work. Nor will map gas alone. You need to add an oxygen tank and use
a two hose torch. This would allow you to even cast if you choose.
Oxygen tanks, because people use medical products, are not the same
as the combustible gases. You have to chain the tanks to a tank caddy
or the wall and use flashback arresters on both hose lines. This, in
my town and many cities in the USA, will pass fire inspection and be
code. I say again, your city or town is probably different. Find out
if you can.
If you are in code, insurance is not a big problem. I had business
insurance and home owners insurance when my shop was in my basement.
Never a problem, just double safe for me and my family.
Another drawback to acetylene is the bright flame. Welders wear dark
safety goggles for eye protection. You don’t need dark glasses with
propane & oxygen torches unless you cast. The people who use
acetylene alone or with oxygen may be damaging their eyes just
finding the right flame. Squinting with the flame is just not good
enough. The soot created is also in my opinion too dirty. A
traditional jewelers workshop is natural gas and oxygen which gives
the ideal torch, but many cities do not supply enough pressure for a
flashback arrester to go on the line.
Hi Diane! I converted my attached garage (we are in a series of
attachedhomes) into my studio. The insurance company with whom I had
been a client for many, many years had a complete freak out when I
got my new torch. And my broker said that any exchange of money in
the home, even in smallamounts (even for a hobby), requires a
different type of insurance, as there is a different liability for
clients coming into your home, as opposed to visitors.
I was easily able to find a new insurance company who offered me
commercial liability insurance, however the homeowners insurance
company still dropped me, so we had to get our regular homeowners
insurance through that new company, as well.
I believe that some home-based businesses are able to simply modify
their homeowners insurance, depends on the company.
And, interestingly, at the home visit with mynew insurance company,
the bigger concern was of theft, rather than fire(which makes sense,
as we have several natural gas appliances in the home).
So yes, a bit more money, but our home is our biggest asset and I
feel better knowing that we are properly covered.
I never thought to check the fire code in Phila but I did call my
insurance co. They said it was ok to use a B tank of acetylene as
long as there was no oxygen. I asked them to put that into writing.
Also, there is an adaptor that costs about $50 from Home Depot
(amongst others, I presume) that has a flexible hose and a fine
point for the propane tank. Works well.
Jo… Freezing in Philly
PS. I have a totally sweet & shy 8 year old tuxedo avail for
adoption. Owner went to nursing home. Contact me.
I know this is an old post, but I’m currently trying to set up shop at home and wondering what insurance companies will cover this type of work in home. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! I’m going to go with a 1lb propane tank and oxy and putting in a inline fan and carbon filter in my basement. Unfortunatly I don’t have a walk out basement or windows, not sure if all insurance co. will frown upon that.
They might ask you to store your tanks ‘outside’ your home. Therefore
running lines into your basement, if the insurance wants this, do it, just
to get their coverage! As well, make sure the tanks & gauges are all UL
approved! Get a permit to operate them in a closed environment from your
State government. Once you have it…then go to your insurance company,
loads of leg-work, but rules are rules!
While you can use the small cans of Propane in the house, you will probably
eventually want larger tanks. However, larger Propane tanks inside the
house will void you insurance I understand. Propane is heavier than air and
will settle in the house and make an explosive ratio that a spark could
ignite. On the other hand, Acetylene is lighter than air and will dissipate
rather than creating an explosive mixture. Thus Acetylene tanks may be used
inside your house without voiding your insurance.
I am providing this information second hand so you should consult your fire
insurance agent or fire department.
When I ran a trade shop from an extra bedroom and the garage in my home, I got a “craftsman policy” from Jeweler’s Mutual Insurance. It had a limit of $40,000 and I’m pretty sure it did not cover the house. It was for liability coverage for customer’s property, my homeowners policy would have been used if I set the place on fire. I’m pretty sure that if that had happened, I would have been out of luck, homeowner’s policies generally are null and void if the home is used to run a business. If that’s the same in your case, your policy will say so.
Try Jeweler’s Mutual for your business insurance, read you homeowner’s policy from cover to cover to see if it denies coverage in the case of a business being run on the premises.
We have a local jeweler with a shop on third floor of a building. When he got there one morning, he found a propane leak. He grabbed the tank and headed downstairs with it. As he passed a hot water heater, it clicked on and ignited the free propane. It was pretty bad. My studio is on the lowest floor and the building is leaky enough I’m not too worried, but I do shut off my tanks, both propane and oxygen every night when I leave.
Run this by your home insurance agent, he or she should be your advocate. I have worked out of my home in the past, using natural gas (with the added safety of a gas booster from G-tech) and oxygen. At first the insurance company resisted but my agent went to bat for me and they covered me. My argument was that the natural gas in the shop is no more of a fire hazard that a gas stove or gas dryer and lots of people with respiratory problems have oxygen tanks. It’s less dangerous than people who use welding equipment and inexperienced people using small propane torches from the hardware store. I think the small torch which you shut off when not in use is safer than an unattended candle. Anyway the argument worked and if it hadn’t I would have switched insurance companies. I also used Jewelers Mutual for business and merchandise coverage, great company.
Thank you all this is great info! My insurance agent sounded as if any torch work in the home would not be acceptable… but I like your argument Mark and am going to fight for coverage and make my space as safe as I can.
This is Ed at G-TEC Natural Gas Systems…thanks to Mark for his kind word about our Torch Booster.
A couple other items to note with a Torch Booster. First, it does not store any gas…it boosts pressure and supplies it to the torch as gas is used so you do not have stored gas in your home or building. Second, if your hose between the Booster and torch is cut the Booster will sense the leak and turn itself off. And third, when using city natural gas with your torch, the Booster provides enough pressure to allow you to use a flashback arrestor/check valve and still get a good flame on the torch. City gas pressure is so low a flashback arrestor will actually block gas flow.
And lastly, a Torch Booster lets you boost pressure to the 3-7 psi range jewelers set when using propane or acetylene. Normal city gas pressure is often 1/4 psi so a Booster will let you get the best performance from your torch.
For 30 years G-TEC Torch Boosters have been welcomed in all buildings, industrial, commercial and home studios…even places where cylinders of acetylene or propane are prohibited.
You can search the archives on my name for a longer discussion about this, but about three years ago I did a lot of research on this topic and settled on the following: Meco Midget and Little Torch on propane and O2. The propane is delivered from a small 1 lb. camp stove cylinder that I refill from a larger tank that I keep in a shed. The O2 comes from an O2 generator. I also use an EZ torch on a 1 lb. camp stove cylinder. I passed this by my insurance agent and they are OK with it as long as this activity is not my primary source of income. I assured them that it isn’t. You can look at my website (www.robmeixner.com) to see what I make with it, but this torch setup does everything I ask of it to include 1 - 2 oz melts for casting. As a side note, since our recent discussion of the EZ Torch; once I figured out how to set it up correctly, I have been using mine to do a lot more work besides annealing. Good luck…Rob
Yes @rmeixner, there are quite a few interesting discussions about this, and even if old the information is largely the same (with the exception of a few innovative products that have since hit the market).
This discussion thread is worth a read if this topic is of further interest…
Just adding to Rob’s good advice by reminding people that propane is heavier than air while natural gas is lighter than air. That makes propane a poor choice for a basement where a leak can pool and then be ignited by your water heater.
Several years ago, I did the same assessment as Rob Meixner and independantly concluded the same thing, ie I selected propane in 1 pound disposable containers as my preferred fuel and an oxygen concentrator to supply my oxygen. Currently I only use one torch in my studio, the EZ Torch on propane / air.
In the event that I decide I need higher temperatures, I will buy an oxygen concentrator and use it with my Smith Little Torch, or something similar.
I have home insurance through USAA. After explaining my set-up to them, they said that it isn’t any more dangerous than a gas grill, and there was no extra insurance needed. They did make note of the fact that I work from home and have a propane/oxygen torch set-up, so if anything should happen, they will know that I already notified them. I use a Smith little torch with a 5-gal propane tank and a small oxygen tank. I don’t have to replace the tanks more than every couple of months.