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Thread: Smoking Exterior Fixture

  1. #1

    Smoking Exterior Fixture

    Hey folks,

    I'm a paint contractor and I do all my own pressure washing, and I generally wash with an SH/Elemonator combo and low pressure/wide fan on the X Jet nozzle. I've washed a good amount of houses with no issues around electrical fixtures/outlets. I use low pressure all the time and will also wash the areas near any electricity with a soft brush and a garden hose, spraying away from the fixture. Essentially, my assumption is that if these fixtures are theoretically made to withstand a hard rain, I'll be fine splashing a little water on them but I don't push my luck.

    This all worked just fine until last week. While lightly rinsing around a light, it started smoking and sparking. I ran inside and shut off the electricity at the box and got a fire extinguisher. It kept smoking and occasionally popping, the clients were unreachable, and it was the end of my day. There was no way I was leaving the house unoccupied like that, so I got the fire department over. They checked it out and found that the light fixture wasn't well sealed and there were exposed wires behind it. The bulb was burnt out, which led me to believe it wasn't on, but there was still electricity running through open wiring. Perfect storm.

    I feel like I got pretty lucky there, as that situation could have gone the other way and been really bad for the clients and myself. It was a bit of a wake up call, because I feel like my aforementioned due diligence while washing might not even matter if there's some shoddy electrical work on a house.

    A few questions for you more seasoned guys that turn over houses all day, every day:

    - What's your policy around electricity? Do you tape/plastic?

    - Other than business structure, do you protect yourself from liability in these situations through anything written out in contract form?

    Any other thoughts are welcome guys!


  2. #2
    Jr. Member ambtink's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    West Deptford, NJ
    I usually use glad cling wrap on all electrical outlets. Once wrapped with the cling wrap I use 3M Blue painters tape at the top of the cling wrap. And I do have within my contract that we will not be responsible for any defects or anything that was installed incorrectly ie. namely electrical outlets , fans and any other occurrence that may be defective. Trust me I've smoked my share of electrical outlets.
    Water Boy Pressure Washing
    West Deptford, NJ

  3. #3
    I had the same issue with and outdoor flush mounted electrical outlet on an 100 yr old house.The older house are the ones that do that.I keep plastic bags and wrap the outlet and then use a rubber band to hold it in place.
    Southtowns Exterior House Washing
    Hamburg, NY

  4. #4
    We tape all electrical outlets with a good quality blue tape 3m is the best imo.

    I have had some motion lights start flickering on and off and a few outlets smoke.
    J.C. Galmiche
    Cajun Cleanin' Powerwashing
    Daphne, Al.
    Pressure washing Daphne,Fairhope,Alabama.


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