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Old 10-16-2004, 12:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Air Compressor Explosion!!!

I personally think this should go on every forum, just for the sake of safety. Pictures of nasty burnt leg will go up as soon as I can get them to load.
(need help with that)

I have a name brand (will disclose later) 220V horizontal air compressor. Isn't new, but it had worked at another location recently. I plugged it in, it cycled 6-8 times, held about 125 psi.
I was sitting on a work stool behind my motorcycle about 5 feet away, when BOOM! Flames everywhere!
Don't think if it does happen, that you will have your wits about you cause you probably won't. Screaming and running from the garage I yelled for everyone to get out of the house. (they did.)
After dousing the compressor with the garden hose (duh, electrical fire) I realized the warm sensation in my lower extremities. Then I ran out the garage and basically took a cold shower under the hose for 10 minutes. In the adrenaline rush, I ran past two fire extinguishers just a few feet away, going for the hose.

I have 1st and 2nd degree burns on my lower legs, back of my hands, forearms, and what's left of my hair.

Lesson #1 Don't think this can't happen to you.

***I teach Fire Safety in highrise buildings....*** If it does happen, try to stay calm. YEAH RIGHT!!! I tell that to 150 people a week. I know all the "safety procedures" for getting out of a fire in three counties, and I still screamed like a little girl.

#2 Get out! Do not go back in. Fire will burn you. It HURTS! Smoke will damage you in more ways than you can imagine. Let your insurance work for you, as you can die painfully.... Just because you can't see doesn't mean it's not happening. I have burns on 5% of my body, and a high tolerance for pain, but this is the worst injury I've ever had. ( My knee was once skewered by a forklift, and I was conscious thru the whole thing )


According to the Doctor's office, this is not a rare occurance. He told me of a few instances he's treated for this. It's the heat (200+degrees) the fill tube from the head to the tank and an aerosol that is produced. Something I've never heard of, but I am doing research into the matter. (I will get back to you soon on this)

#3 Wear appropriate clothing in the garage. I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. NOT APPROPRIATE! Who knows what could happen.....
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Old 10-16-2004, 01:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That is come scary sh!t. I'm glad you're okay.... Makes me want to move the compressor behind some walls for protection.
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Old 10-16-2004, 01:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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cpydrman, man glad to hear you're OK. You need to update your sig line to include a "slightly used" compressor.

Will be glad to hear the whole story soon.
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Old 10-16-2004, 01:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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holy shit, what blew up on the compressor? get any shrapnel?
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Old 10-16-2004, 03:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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That is why compressors have their own closet at most auto shops. I have my compressor outside against the wall of the garage and have it plumbed in to where I need the air. Glad you are only injured, sounds like it could have been deadly. As for running like a little girl, that happens when you are edjucated in what can occur during a fire. I worked at oil refineries for years, and when the shit goes down, you don't calmly walk, you run for your fn life.
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Old 10-16-2004, 04:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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an aerosol that's produced? i can see the 200+ temps on the discharge line. that's common. but aerosol that's combustible? within the tank? are you thinking it's oil mist from the lubricant in the compressor or from spray painting or degreasing near the compressor and coming in contact with the hot discharge line? i work on multiple types of heavy machinery and air compressors is one of them. (recip., screw, rotory, etc.) i've never heard of this sort of thing other than from combustibles being in close in proximity.

i'm interested to hear what you're research comes up with as this may be a hot topic. no pun intended.

good thing there were no kids nearby. all it would take is a little kid wanting to hang out with dad in the garage and an experience like that would be life scarring.

glad you're ok.
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Old 10-16-2004, 05:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Good to know you didn't get hurt worse. I've never heard of such an accident, but I can see one possibility: Oil getting by worn rings and vaporizing in the compressed air, and when the pressure switch breaks it kicks the unloader valve. If the plumbing of the unloader valve to atmosphere were directed either at the head or at the arc of the switch contacts breaking... ignition. I have seen oil vapor fires and they are very fast and hot. You're lucky.
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Old 10-16-2004, 07:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I had the small galvanized output tube on my craftsman upright burst. Scared the [email protected] out of me.
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Old 10-16-2004, 08:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Im sorry to hear you were hurt, but GLAD to hear you made it out alive.

I've been an advocate of proper PPE in home shops for years, but now I have a great example to prove my point. Thank you.

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Old 10-16-2004, 10:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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First of all I'll glad your alive to tell us this as I'm sure that most people here have some type of compresser in the garage. Second I guess I'm confused on where the flames came from. Was if from the oil in the compresser or was this like a flash type fire?
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Old 10-22-2004, 08:42 AM   #11 (permalink)
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BTT...

I also am dubious about the cause of the "explosion". I believe there were flames present, the burns prove that. But what exactly "exploded"? Could there have been some flamable fumes present near the compressor that ignited when the motor kicked on? Maybe the compressor ingested something flamable and the pressure made it go boom? The oil in a compressor is inert, I don't think it could get to the flash point, unless maybe you were using the wrong kind?

I've seen air hoses blow from age and wear, tanks rupture because they rusted out (actually they usually just start leaking), and air chucks wear out from usage and pop off the tools. But never seen anything cause any type of flames.

Very interested to see pics of the carnage in the garage, and detailed explanation of what caused it.
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Old 10-22-2004, 09:06 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Glad you are doing okay, could have been worse. Didyou perhaps have a gas leak from working the bike? What about your water heater or a gas can in the area? Bucket of dirty rags around? An electrical spark from the compresor could have ignited some unknown source and flashed over.
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Old 10-22-2004, 09:34 AM   #13 (permalink)
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it clearly states in the manuals of new compressors to drain the tank after each use because rust can form inside and explode. dont know if that was your case or not. but yes, everything has a safety precaution.

thank you for posting this heads up, and hope you get better soon.

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Old 10-22-2004, 10:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Damn...thats kinda scary... makes me think about that 120 gallon compressor thants right beside me in the garage.....might just have to make a out building for it. I'm interested on what the true cause was, so keep us updated.
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Old 10-22-2004, 11:10 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpydrman
#3 Wear appropriate clothing in the garage. I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. NOT APPROPRIATE! Who knows what could happen.....

I dress like this in the garage all the time. I know it is inappropriate, but I do it anyway. I think I may make an effort to dress more appropriately now.

Glad you walked away from it without any worse damage! Sorry to hear about the damage you took.
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Old 10-22-2004, 11:25 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Damn, never would have even thought about something like that. Put a 220 receptacle in my garage when I had the house built & had every intention of just plopping a compressor in there one day. Rethinking that one


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Old 10-22-2004, 11:41 AM   #17 (permalink)
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When I upgrade to a large compressor I've always planned to put it outside in a lean to- to keep the noise down

I now I have a much better reason

Glad you will get better.


A boss I worked for had rust scale blasted under his skin when a pipe burst on the comp we was working on. He ended up going to the hospital to get his arm opened up and debraded. Not Pretty. He was cranky for a long time.

Air under pressure is not always your friend!
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Old 10-22-2004, 11:54 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Why keep us in the dark as to the manufacture and model #. If your soo concerned with safety you would of told us!
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Old 10-22-2004, 05:24 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I still don't get it. 200 degrees won't start a fire.
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Old 10-22-2004, 05:39 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Glad you're okay. I like your sig. line....do you still like it?

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Old 10-22-2004, 05:40 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I'm in Houston, and the humidity here is pretty bad as everyone knows. But I had no idea the actual impact it had on my compressor. I literally have to drain it every week as it will fill up the whole damn tank in no time at all, and this is a 120 gallon big somebitch.

Does anyone have any idea how to stop this internal condensation? At this rate my tank is going to rusted throught the bottom in no time at all.
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Old 10-23-2004, 11:20 AM   #22 (permalink)
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at work when we first got our air compressor we put a cup of watersaulable oil in the tank boss said it keeps the lathe and mill from rusting so it should work on the compressor as well
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Old 10-24-2004, 11:34 PM   #23 (permalink)
 
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I had a older 80 gallon horizontal devilbiss compressor blow the end of the tank right off, the pressure switch didnt activate and kill the motor @ 175 and it kept going, the 250 psi gauge was stuck @ about the 300 mark after the incident, ever since then I havnt had a compressor, and dont want one unless it is a new Eaton tankless screw compressors
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Old 10-25-2004, 12:26 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
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...ever since then I havnt had a compressor, and dont want one unless it is a new Eaton tankless screw compressors
"Eaton tankless screw compressor," eh? Couldn't find one with google–one page result. Screw compressors on ebay ain't cheap. Did find searchable site with most screw compressor mfrs. Still, good to know.
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Old 01-20-2005, 12:22 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Wink Thank you for all your best wishes, here's the "jist" of it

To big Nate... Hit the nail right on the head. It's a devillbiss!

"I had a older 80 gallon horizontal devilbiss compressor blow the end of the tank right off, the pressure switch didnt activate and kill the motor @ 175 and it kept going, the 250 psi gauge was stuck @ about the 300 mark after the incident"

Found out after a few months of investigation, that the pressure switch didn't shut off and the pressure reached, well, who knows? The temp was calculated at at least 500 degrees! THAT my friends will start a fire. There was heat fracturing on the inside of the tank ends. The other end was about ready to blow off, too. No explanation from the manufacturer, just a fancy new compressor (which was sold quickly) and a mini settlement of hospital expenses.
I'm having a hard time showing the pics, but I can tell you that the scary carnage is the 5" hole in the 16 guage filing cabinet where the end plug blew by my leg, while tearing the flesh. Oh yeah, it punched a good dent in the aluminum intake manifold in the cabinet.

Thank you for all your best wishes, I have recovered nicely.
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