Heat Tape

Northwest Indiana Times
December 18, 2003
http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2003/12/18/news/porter_county/216ce66 1149e6e7786256e00000ad327.txt Faulty heat tape causes morning fire
Fire chief advises those who use tapes to check them every winter.
BY JOYCE RUSSELL Times Staff Writer
PORTAGE -- A resident of a mobile home in the 5100 block of Wessex in Ingram Manor Mobile Home Park got lucky Wednesday morning.
While the resident slept inside, a maintenance crew spotted a fire underneath the mobile home and called the Fire Department.
The department received the call at 10:12 a.m. but the blaze had gone out by the time firefighters arrived, Portage Fire Chief Tim Sosby said.
A faulty wire started the fire, which Sosby said caused extensive damage to the underside of the mobile home and went up a wall of the trailer.
It probably will be the first of two or three calls the department will get this winter about fires caused by heat tapes used to keep exposed pipes under mobile homes from freezing.
"Every time it gets cold and stays cold we get fires caused by the heat tapes," Sosby said.
If the heat tapes are installed correctly and insulated, they do the job they are supposed to without any problems. But, Sosby said, if they aren't checked each year, they could crack or fray and cause a fire.
"Sometimes they burn the whole trailer down," he said. "They are an excellent source of fire."
Sosby advised those who use heat tapes to check them every year and make sure there are no cracks, that they're insulated properly and in working order. Another concern are the older heat tapes that may be used on some mobile homes. They aren't equipped with thermostats and never turn off, causing them to overheat and become a potential fire source.
Joyce Russell can be reached at snipped-for-privacy@nwitimes.com or (219) 762-4334.
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It's unreal what people will sell (and buy) these days! My suggestion would be to look for a label from some approval agency (here in Canada its CSA or UL) before purchasing the tape.
Dean
or (219) 762-4334.

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