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Torch in a rental apartment


#1

Hello all,

I will be moving to the USA in a few months, and since I will be
living (and working…) in a rental apartment, I was wondering how
much of a problem it will be, using a torch (and the gas balloon)
inside the house? I understand that most houses in the USA are made
of wood and so have very sensitive smoke detectors (99% of houses
where I currently live are made of concrete). Won’t the torch set
these off? And how okay are landlords with all this?

I would love to learn from your experience!

Thanks so much,
Jonathan


#2

I wouldn’t even try it. I’m in the US, and unless you have cleared it
with your landlord, it’s a VERY bad idea. Plus, it may violate fire
code in some cities to use it without special precautions and
ventilation.

Lindsay Legler
Dreaming Dragon Designs


#3
in a rental apartment, I was wondering how much of a problem it
will be, using a torch (and the gas balloon) inside the house?
Won't the torch set these off? And how okay are landlords with all
this? 

What kind of torch are you using? And what in heaven’s name is a gas
balloon?

No, most landlords are not okay with it, and once when I
specifically asked, the landlord then wrote it specifically into the
lease that I could not use a torch.

No, a torch shouldn’t set off smoke detector.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#4

i don’t know how the smoke detectors will react but I had a bad
experience some years ago. I rented a studio specifically so I could
live and work in the same place. One of the other tenants found out
that I had gas tanks in my apartment and reported that I was “
building a bomb” and the police and fire department raided my studio
and impounded my gas cannisters. i later found out that you can only
have a 5 lb propane gas canister if you are doing anything in an
apartment. but by that time it was too late and my little jwelery
business had filed because I couldn’t do any work in my home.


#5

Jonathon,

What is the “gas balloon” you are referring to?

The legality will be completely up to your landlord. Where will you
be soldering? Is there a window or place for ventilation?

If you want to make a case for your landlord so they don’t freak at
an open flame, it’s actually more dangerous to have a bevy of lit
candles for a romantic atmosphere than the tiny flame from a torch.
Your landlord might be concerned with bottled gas, but you can make a
claim on how responsible you will be with securing your tank(s),
making sure the area is safe, etc. Would your landlord feel better if
you had the fire marshal come through and inspect it. Can you obtain
a rider on your tenants insurance for increased liability. If you
don’t have tenants insurance, get it. MAKE SURE YOU HAVVE A FIRE
EXTINGUISHER AND KNOW HOW TO USE IT

Do your homework. Describe the scenario in detail so every question
can be answered. Be prepared. If you have a gas stove, then your
flame is about as dangerous as the little pilot light to cook your
food, or the pilot light in your hot water tank.

If you are using propane, then get the smallest oxy propane you can
find and lash those down. Show the landlord just how tiny the flame
is and how responsible you are. We jewelers get a bad rap because we
work with FIRE, oh my god.

A funny story. A woman showed up at a beginning jewelry class at
Metalwerx, convinced that we work with blow torches. Her mother was
so concerned of her using FIRE to make jewelry that she came to
class wearing oven mitts.

TV shows don’t help with your desire to be responsible, when all we
see are big engulfing flaming explosions when a car falls down a
hill.

Educate your landlord, and by that you must be completely educated
yourself.

Personally, I am scared to death of deep fried turkeys. LOL


#6

Hi,

Thanks to everyone who replied… I am currently using a 5lb propane
tank (although I know smaller tanks are also available). I will be
moving to a rental apartment in either Manhatten or somewhere near in
New Jersey. Would this be a major issue with landlords, and if so -
how do goldsmiths in the USA get around it? I mean, there must be
thousands of professionals and students who work in rental apartments
all over the USA, and they must be using some kind of torch, aren’t
they?

Thanks again for your help!

Best,
Jonathan


#7

Jonathan,

Using a torch in a residential rental property would probably be in
violation of most housing codes for rental properties. Certainly,
most insurance companies would frown on it if not outright forbid it.
There is a huge difference in the cost of residential insurance vs
commercial insurance.

In the end, these things are determined by the terms of the lease or
rental agreement, but you will have a hard time finsing a landlord
who will be happy with you using explosive gases in his house or
apartment.

Wayne


#8

Hi

I would not have anything larger than 1# propane inside a building of
any kind. a 20# propane tank was blaimed for completely destroying a
house and nocking the neighbers houses off there foundations. one
pound will last about a month if you dont leave it on between uses.
invest in a battery torch starter.

Robert L. Martin
Goldsmith/Platinumsmith
Diamond Setter
since 1976


#9

Have you considered getting one of the water torches? Of course the
expense is undesired, but that is a very safe way to solder etc. The
benefit of a hydrogen flame is heat and a distinct lack of soot, or
carbon oxides. I could get evicted for running a gas torch in my
apartment!

Daniel Ballard


#10

Hay, About the 5 #er, Fire code will eat your lunch and it only
takes a jealous neighbor to drop the hint to the FD and they make a
special inspection and “Whala” big time ticket and immediate removal
while they watch. GENERATED GAS, or water torches will usually get
you by. I know what you are saying now, “But everybody does it”. “Do
what you gotta do”. Be safe and good luck.

Stephen Wyrick, CMBJ, Gemmologist


#11

I hadn’t chimed in on this one, but as I come at this from a rather
different vantage point in several respects, I guess I will. First, I
am a landlord myself (anyone want to rent a lovely two bedroom, two
bathroom house in the country on a pond with a dock??). As a jeweler
also, if a prospective tenant wanted to use a torch, I would be fine
with that provided they proved to me that they knew how to use it
safely, store it safely, and had proof of adequate insurance and/or
paid the difference in the cost of my policy to cover (there are
limits in renters insurance; my pond is a liability issue, and even
though I require my tenants to have maximum liability insurance, as
owner my insurance is still the primary coverage. I would think the
same would apply for torches.) My theory is when you rent my house,
it becomes your home. I hope you will cherish it as such, but as I
also want you to have the freedom to treat it as such.

Then you have the added difference that I live in the country, in
the South. Take the two together and you have lots of individual
rights, and a lot less regulation, than in a big metropolitan area.
So definitely check the codes for any areas you are looking at -
there may be significant differences.

The next bit is the difference between renting an apartment in a
building with lots of other people (I would imagine regulations would
be stricter), and renting a house where you are the only renter. So
you might try getting into the country near the metropolitan area,
and seeing if you can find a small, older house to rent where the
landlord might have some flexibility.

At any rate, good luck!
Beth in SC


#12

I’ve had an oxy/acetylene torch in my rental apartments and houses
for the last 7 years without problems. None of my landlords cared
(and yes, I told them) and one actually thought it was really cool.
I never set off a smoke detector, and I always bled the lines when I
was done. Seek out a place to live that welcomes artists and has a
relaxed atmosphere about artistic endeavors, and you probably won’t
have any problems. Then again, I live and work in Austin where it
may be a little easier to find that.


#13

just a simple thought – worry about the fire marshall and the fire
regulations for the fire district that you are located in. the
landlord may not be the only person interested in open flame in a
residential dwelling.

John


#14

Hi again and thanks to everyone who shared their insight. If I read
your posts correctly, I hit somewhat of an open nerve with my
question…

Almost everyone who replied, both online on the Orchid forum and
offline (by emailing me directly), suggested a “water torch”
(specifically, the Spirflame) as the only real solution to the
problem. Reading this, should I understand that anyone who doesn’t
have the $4000 to purchase this expensive torch, and doesnt own a
house, should forget about being a metalsmith in the USA? I am sorry
if I am repeating myself, but that just doesn’t make sense…

There MUST be another solution… I wouldn’t want to be the only one
"breaking the law" - but am I right in assuming that most of the
Orchid members just don’t say anything to their landlord about using
a propane (or whatever) torch, and hope for the best? I guess it
won’t change anything for myself, but I guess I would feel much
better knowning that “everyone does it” - which makes it kinda
"normal"…

That is, of course, if there isn’t another solution?
Thanks again to everyone.
Sincerely,
Jonathan


#15

Jonathan, I missed many of the earlier posts, sorry. Here are my
thoughts, for what they’re worth. Is there a “common” area where you
could set up shop. A friends garage or basement? Is there any sort
of “co-op” area where other artist artists have a shop? A technical
school or community college with adult evening classes? Some cities
have Park and Rec. departments that foster classes of sorts for a
nominal fee. Is it feasible for you to initiate the “action” to make
this happen in your community? I guess what I am saying is have you
been creative in looking at possibilties that may already exist
around you. Don’t despair, if step back and use your creative
ability to work around the problem.

As far as a torch in a rental unit, you are opening yourself up to
massive liability issues. Think of it, if something were to go wrong
in another “unit” you could still have liability issues to contend
with, plus, I don’t know if the fire dept. would be too happy with a
gas tank going off unexpectedly.


#16

Jonathan:

There MUST be another solution... I wouldn't want to be the only
one "breaking the law" - but am I right in assuming that most of
the Orchid members just don't say anything to their landlord about
using a propane (or whatever) torch, and hope for the best? I guess
it won't change anything for myself, but I guess I would feel much
better knowning that "everyone does it" - which makes it kinda
"normal"... 

Goodness Jonathan - no, you are not right. This is like assuming
"most people ignore red stop lights and hope for the best - namely
that they don’t get caught!" What about the possibility of someone
getting killed because you went through a red light and “hoped for
the best”. You say you don’t want to be the only one “breaking the
law”… Would you feel more comfortable knowing that “most” people
speed right through the red lights and you were “not the only one
doing it”. I doubt that. And yes there are times when you are the
only one stopping at a red light - no one else happens to be at that
intersection at that moment - but can you afford to take the risk
and ignore the red light and drive right through the intersection
anyway? I don’t think so.

There is no solution - plain and simple. We all know that using a
torch requires attention to what you are doing - and does require
you to be scrupulous in your working routine - i.e. a torch should be
properly maintained, securely attached so it doesn’t fall or get
knocked over, your work area should be properly ventilated, etc.
etc. IF anything goes wrong and the torch gets knocked over or leaks
and a spark ignites a flame possibly resulting in an exploding tank,
then not only does your own life and property come into question, but
very definitely all those in the attached dwellings. I wouldn’t think
you’d want that on your conscience. Don’t do it.

I doubt very seriously that “most Orchid members” just don’t say
anything…" From all the contributions that I have read over the
years (and I’ve been a member of orchid for a long, long time) I
personally feel that “most Orchid members” are very concerned persons
who are very aware of the risks in our chosen profession and do every
thing possible to practice proper and safe techniques. And I think
most of us are very concerned about exposing other persons to those
risks.

Bottom line - it’s not worth the risks you subject others to by
having a torch in your apartment - that’s my opinion and I’m sticking
with it.

Kay


#17
If I read your posts correctly, I hit somewhat of an open nerve
with my question... 

It’s not an open nerve, it’s just that the US is very litigious.
Everyone is just tellin’ it like it is.

To re-cap, your choices are:

  • get permission from your landlord and clearance from the local
    fire marshall (unlikely)

  • don’t ask, don’t tell (but if there’s a fire, your renter’s
    insurance will not cover any loses)

  • do everything but solder in your apt. and solder elsewhere, such
    as renting in a group studio or rented time at an art center

That’s about it.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#18

Most jewelers in the US either own their own property, have their
landlord’s OK or have a studio to work in that isn’t at their living
quarters.

Or they are stupid and don’t tell their landlord and sometimes get
evicted and fined huge sums by the local Fire Marshall.

It’s that simple.

There isn’t really another solution.

Lindsay Legler
(Who is in the “owns her own place” category)
Dreaming Dragon Designs


#19

Dear Johnathan:

Thank you for your posting and bringing this specific safety
situation to light.

Almost everyone who replied, both online on the Orchid forum and
offline (by emailing me directly), suggested a “water torch”
(specifically, the Spirflame) as the only real solution to the
problem.

The reason customers have suggested our Spirflame[tm] is it has
features which make it closer to a regular torch (big flames, easy to
use) when directly compared to other water welders which are limited
in gas production. The Spirflame[tm] is the top of the line. There
are much less expensive water welders available, they just produce
smaller flames and require a lot more care. You can also use bottled
gases, just smaller bottles are required.

Reading this, should I understand that anyone who doesn’t have the
$4000 to purchase this expensive torch, and doesnt own a house,
should forget about being a metalsmith in the USA? I am sorry if I am
repeating myself, but that just doesn’t make sense…

Forgive me for being so brutal here, but this is addressed to OUR
ENTIRE ORCHID FAMILY, not to you specifically. Before you become a
good Metalsmith, you need to become a responsible person. And part of
this means being ethical. Operating honestly and following the law -
including local fire and safety codes.

As an individual, you (WE) have no right to ignore those laws and
regulations for our own desires. When you operate using bottled
gases above the allowed amounts you are endangering not only all the
other families in your location, but the chance to destroy all their
possessions and ruin their lives for many years, even if they escape
unharmed.

Operating in any city always requires additional efforts. There are
additional regulations and requirements. As I see it, you still have
a number of good choices:

  1. If you use bottled gases, use smaller (legal) ones.

  2. Find a more residential area, perhaps a single dwelling rent
    where you can work legally, even though there will be a longer
    commute.

  3. Save the torch work portions and rent studio time where you can
    legally use a torch. There are a number of schools available.

  4. Find a friend with a place you can legally use their torch (I’m
    in CT very happy to help you).

  5. Almost all tool and equipment suppliers would help you, break
    your bill into monthly payments for a major purchase, as we do for
    our Spirflame[tm] customers.

If you cannot do it right (legally), don’t do it. This goes for all
processes. You have no right to endanger others entire lives, their
dwellings and possessions, just to practice your trade. Fire fighters
entering a fire do not need the additional risk of improperly
installed piped gas or unexpected gas tanks detonating. The damage is
devastating, often beyond the average persons comprehension.

We have NO right to assume everything will be fine and we can just
get away with it. Get away with endangering others? And this “nod and
a wink” stuff is not acceptable. “Other people do it” is no
justification for a failure to act legally, or to endanger others. If
a third of the Orchid membership told us they just broke the law,
should we consider this some sort of justification or permission?
Almost every year we are called in, AFTER some tragic event, because
some selfish idiot didn’t think or care about those around them.

If you cannot do it right (legally), don’t do it. We need to
remember to adjust our focus beyond our benches, especially in the
area of safety.

Gary W. Miller
Sr. Technical Advisor
www.spirig.org


#20

I’m curious as to why you are so set on an apartment? And,
apparently, on being in a major city? Many of the issues would not
exist either in a rental house or in a rural area, where the simple
change in numbers of people allow more leeway. A rental house might
even have a garage you could set up in.

Failing that, rent the apartment, and then do what many do, and rent
studio space separately in a place where having the torch is legal.

Your personal liability should anything go wrong if you were using
the torch illegally would be tremendous!

Beth in SC