So I want to share my story with everyone. This is something that I want everyone to learn from! We now have an inspection process in place before we will wash a house.
Last summer I was washing this dinky little house in a 1 horse town. The parents of the kid living in the house had called and set up my services. I was told he would be inside sleeping because he worked nights and just to do my thing. I soaped the front of the house and under the front porch roof like I always do. I moved to the north side and started washing and I started hearing the loudest bang noise from the front! I honestly thought I had woken up the kid and he was beating on the house. I walked around the corner and right as I did the power line 6 foot above my head blew sparks and blue flames out right over my head…
The house was on fire…
My first thought (being a volunteer firefighter) was get the kid out of the house. I started banging on a window until I saw movement and he opened it. I instructed him to go out the back door and stay away from the front of the house.
He made it out fine and I had yelled at a neighbor that heard the noise to call 911
I literally had to stand there with a hose in my hand and watch the house catch fire. I couldn’t spray water on the fire as it was the meter switch box that was still live and arching that was on fire. Instant death had I tried this.
Skip to 5 fire trucks 4 cop cars 2 Lineman trucks and a whole lotta onlookers.
The fire didn’t spread and it really only melted the siding before the power gave up and it smoldered out. I think it was less than $2500 in damage. The lineman and the electric company both instantly saw what went wrong. When the switch box was installed it was not put in up to code. The fitting on the top where the wires ran out of was not a weather seal fitting. Basically the water running down the siding ran right into the box and jumped the 2 legs of power. 240 volts of pissed off energy ruined my day.
Here is what I want you to learn from me today!
1-Inspect the meter box fittings! (if you don’t know what to look for ask a professional to show you the first time)
2- spray lightly around meter boxes and weatherheads. If you have to, just use a pump sprayer!
3- refuse to wash an area if it is not insalled properly.
4- inspect the entire house for bare wires where outlets or lights used to be. (refuse to wash that area if there are)
5- DO NOT SPRAY WATER ON AN ELECTRICAL FIRE!!!
6- Know that it will be OK! Make sure everyone is safe! Get away and call 911
In the end the homeowner was so happy with me for making sure their son was safe that she offered me more money… I refused and tried to give her back the payment for the housewash. She said “no I want you to finish what you have done looks so good” I actually did but it felt super weird to be washing a house I had just caught on fire…
I really thought my days softwashing were up. Insurance would rocket or cancel people would talk and I would never get another call… None of that happened. My insurance was never even contacted by them and they paid cash for the repairs.
Please lean from my experience and check the house over before you start work. It may save your life someday! Never spray water directly at a meter base (use a rag or something) Where the power line comes into the house from the pole and enters the tube DO NOT SPRAY INTO. This is NOT what I had done but it will run down the pipe and do the same thing…
If you have anything negative to say please keep it to yourself! This is just a FYI learning experience.