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Author: Subject: Is my water heater an explosion risk?
p4rtridg3
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[*] posted on 14-3-2020 at 08:19
Is my water heater an explosion risk?


Hello all,

I recently started my home chemistry adventure, and I've progressed quite a bit in the last couple of months. As my lab expands, however, a new concern has popped up.

My lab is located in my basement, somewhat near my hot water heater. It is a traditional tank-style model with a gas burner at the bottom, maybe 3-6 inches off the ground. I have begun to acquire some rather flammable organic solvents, and I'm worried about a buildup of vapors along the ground.

My family has been considering replacing the old tank with a new tankless model. We live in a cold climate with a large family, so an electric model wouldn't really fit the bill. However, the gas burner would be much higher off the ground, would run with some predictability, and perhaps I could rig up an apparatus to draw in outside air for combustion.

I'm curious as to what your thoughts are. Is it really a risk? Would it be mitigated with a different water heater? Does anyone else have gas appliances near their labs, and if so, what have you done about them?

Thanks for your help.
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Syn the Sizer
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[*] posted on 14-3-2020 at 08:52


Not to scare you but I think if too many vapours collected on the floor it would run an explosion risk. I know people who us butane to extract THC do it in a well ventilated area because it is an explosion risk since the vapours hug the floor. I have heard it takes just a 2% concentration of butane to be explosive though I have not researched it. Hopefully more people who know more than me comment as well.
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anti
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[*] posted on 14-3-2020 at 10:29


You should not be worried as long as your containers are good.
Maybe you could try to store your solvents in an airtight box, and have some solutions that can dissolve vapour if needed.
Also, chemistry should not be done in a closed space.
Take a vacuum cleaner, lenghten it's tube with some extra piping, and place the device outside. Get a big plastic box , place it on the side in your basement, put a whole trough one side and connect the tube. This simple fumehood will take the vapour outside, so you can work in a closed space.
But why are you even using the basement? If you are not doing anything illegal, why not do it outside?
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p4rtridg3
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[*] posted on 14-3-2020 at 15:43


Quote: Originally posted by anti  

But why are you even using the basement? If you are not doing anything illegal, why not do it outside?


I would, but I live in a rather densely populated area with a small yard. I moved recently and the neighbors don't know me very well, so I'm pretty sure I would raise suspicion if I did any chemistry outside.
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[*] posted on 14-3-2020 at 19:53


Quote: Originally posted by anti  
You should not be worried as long as your containers are good.


I guess I could have asked if it was just storage.
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XeonTheMGPony
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[*] posted on 15-3-2020 at 04:44


Yes that is an un warranted risk, I would strive to handle your solvents well away from it and certainly not store them near it.

even if it is DSI (Means no standing pilot) when it fires there is all ways the risk of things carrying over.

When I was doing plumbing we replaced a tank that inflated because a guy was filling his lawn mower with fuel, and enough of the fumes found there way, and when heat demand was called poof!

Flammable fumes and any thing gas operated need to be well isolated and ventilated!

If it can catch fire STORE WELL AND FAR AWAY!!!

I have seen so many trivially avoidable disasters by people being casual with their gas appliances!

While on the subject all ways keep 3 foot radius sparkling clean and clear around them, and ensure the top flue part is clean and free of restrictions

[Edited on 15-3-2020 by XeonTheMGPony]
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