I'm thinking of acquiring an old refrigerator to use for storing my solvents & other flammables. Two advantages that occur to me are the low cost ($0) and the side benefit of salvaging a motor (to keep my other salvaged motors company ).
I'm wondering if :
This is a good or bad idea, in general. My flammables are currently scattered about the basement, in cabinets and shelves.
What would be a good way to vent the refrigerator?
I use an old fridge for my flammables locker on the following reasoning...
#1, non sparking interior (all Aluminium or plastic) #2, the insulation helps reduce thermal shock (from hot-cold cycling) #3, Easily converted to a lockable unit with the addition of Locks pop rivetted to the body and door. #4, Handy shelves in the door/s, and body for sorting contents #5, Large magnetic surface for keeping notes, lists, etc #6, The two door units have the advantage of seperating various items (ie aerosols in the top, solids and liquids in the bottom) #7, Overall unit is quite strong, and robust (ie I can stack things on top, and "maybe" survive the fridge being hit by flying stock, etc #8, The seals on the door would provide SOME form of "blow out" protection in the event of the contents ever producing gas. #9, Single point to worry about in the case of a fire (ie if the house is on fire, tell the firemen to keep "that fridge cool".. ditto if it's on fire you can say "all flammables are inside that unit"
My two door gets used for storing everything from Spray paint (rattle cans), Silicon sprays, diesel (cheap replacement for "penetrene") Glues, and other bits and pieces I don't want to be around in a fire, or would be damaged by thermal cycling.
Tom Quackenbush wrote: I use an old fridge for my flammables locker on the following reasoning...(clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^ I think all of your reasoning is correct, except the part about the electric motor. Refrigerators nowadays use an integrated motor/compressor. Many of my woodturning friends use this as a vacuum pump for use with a vacuum chuck. But it's not usable as a motor, unless you go back to the very, very old belt drive units.
I do agree with you that the metal exterior would provide a lot of protection in case of fire, and, in the unfortunate circumstance that the fire got so really hot that the contents caught, chances are that part of the building would already be a gonner anyway.
One additional slight advantage is that if you did have a leaky container in your "locker," you won't have smells all over the house.
Use a hole saw to drill eight 2" holes, four on each side, at the top and bottom of each compartment.
Bad. Flammables cabinets must have free ventilation, not a seal. The vapors must not be allowed to accumulate.
One good solution is a shield over the cabinet tied to the roof with a flammable string or fusible link. In a fire, the shield drops over the flammables, reducing their contribution.
My landlord is upset about my flammables. I have offered to buy the HF plasma torch to use instead of propane and butane, but he won't give an answer. The torch does not store any flammable vapor or liquid. When you interrupt the power, which can be done from outside, it goes out immediately.
Doug Goncz, Replikon Research, Seven Corners, VA Unpublished work Copyright 2003 Doug Goncz Fair use and Usenet distribution without restriction or fee Civil and criminal penalties for circumvention of any embedded encryption
The plastics used in them will react with certain flammable chemicals and have pretty low flame points. Something as small as a kitchen match will start them to burn. Acetone, MEK, toluene and certain other solvent vapors will attack and degrade those plastics pretty quick. If you are going to store them in there, make sure they are in well sealed containers.
Most fridge seals are worn out by the time you quit using the unit, or are on their way out. They are not designed to handle much of a pressure differnential at all. Besides, a rise in pressure in the unit is tattamount ot turing it into a bomb. Thats why fire cabinets have blowout plugs that only allow a certain pressure rise in the them before going off.
In a typical household fire, the seals are going to be gone very quickly. Any room adjacent to one with flames will probably see air temps in excess of 500 deg. F within a very short time. Once the seals are gone, you start heating the contents as well as the unit's exterior.
Fire cabinets are not really designed to prevent a fire as much as contain and controll a fire. Try and minimize the amont of HazMat that you have to store, and if you have to keep over a couple of gallons ( all stuff combined), spend the bucks and get a real cabinet. Until then, put your fridge cabinet as close to your big garage doors as possible.
We handle our chemicals in 55 gallon drums, so we have to use the real cabinets...
It isn't *approved* for that use, so your insurance company might complain in the event of a claim. But it is a better practical approach than not having a flamables cabinet. A positive acting latch for the door is a must. If there is an explosion in the cabinet, you don't want the door to fly open and allow flame to billow out into the shop area.
Metal stove pipe to the outside, same as if it were a stove. You need one at the top of the cabinet, and another at the bottom (they can go through the back at top and bottom). The idea is to have enough outside air circulation to prevent explosive vapors from accumulating, whether the vapors are lighter or heavier than air, and also to vent any fire *outside* in case there is a fire.
A gravity closed flapper port where you could shove a CO2 or dry chemical fire extinguisher nozzle in case of a fire in the cabinet might be a good idea too. You sure as hell don't want to have to open the door to fight a fire in the cabinet.
Note, attempting to fight a fire in a flamables cabinet is potentially very hazardous, you might just prefer to run. But in that case you'd want an actual approved cabinet, or your insurance might not pay for the loss of your shop.
They make pre-plumbed fire ports for small airplanes, where you shove the discharge nozzle of the hand extinguisher against the port and it will spray behind the instrument panel or through a length of tubing into a luggage compartment, above the footwell, or other blind area... Airplanes can't pull over to fight the fire, and you can't get out and run around back to put out the rear cargo compartment...
That is a good place for an old 10-pound or 20-pound CO2 extinguisher, and a bit of plumbing work to put the hose end inside the top of the cabinet... ;-) No opening the door, just pull the pin and squeeze the handle till it cools off in there, while you use the phone in the other hand to call the fire department. And if cooling doesn't occur (or the FD won't answer the phone), /then/ you can start running.
You could take off the plastic horn, but you need the nozzle on the end of the CO2 hose to keep the gas liquid in the hose until it hits that final restriction, where it can flash into dry ice in free air.
(Save the horn and all hose parts, you have to take the extinguisher back in every few years for a hydro-test & recharge, and they can't do it if there are parts modified or missing.)
They make pre-made automatic extinguishers you could hang at the top of the cabinet that are a pressurized dry-chemical cylinder with a fire sprinkler head at the bottom, and when the head goes off from heat it sprays ABC powder everywhere. They use little ones (2.5#) inside the base of gasoline pumps, and I've seen larger ones...
Or /CAREFULLY/ disarm and strip out the Ansul automatic extinguisher system from the fryer hood of a bankrupt restaurant - they have everything you need for a flammables cabinet - a fusible link trigger mechanism, pre-made manual pull stations, and pre-plumbed remote powder spray heads, and you can get them serviced by any extinguisher company.
The other out-in-the-boonies last-ditch solution would be to put a single fire sprinkler at the top of the cabinet and plumb it to water. Not a good idea if anything in there is highly reactive.