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Old 25th October 2003, 01:26 AM   #1
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Question DIY Amp / house insurance / fire ?

I was once told by a friend down in Florida that he wouldn't consider a DIY amp because it would not be UL approved. Without such an approval, if his house were to have a fire, not DIY amp related, his insurance would not pay the bill because he had a non-UL device plugged into 1 of his outlets.

Is this true?
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Old 25th October 2003, 01:30 AM   #2
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Wouldn't that only be a problem if the device caused the fire by catching on fire. If the iron burns through the ironing board, the insurance would pay, even though we call that stupidity. Now, if he has a clause or rider that says not to do anything stupid...

:)ensen.
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Old 25th October 2003, 01:35 AM   #3
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In Germany, he'd be right if you swap "UL" by "CE".

More to the point, the burden of proof would be reversed. It would be your task to provide proof it was not the non-approved amp that burned down your house. I consider this an impossible task as the insurance company can afford the better lawyers

Renting out self-made (non-approved) PA equipment to people for years gave me some kind of headache sometimes.
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Old 25th October 2003, 03:33 PM   #4
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For a living I install projection and sound systems in movie theateres. The UL tag used to be looked for by alot of electrical and fire inspectors, but since the early 90's that seems to have somewhat become a thing of the past.....even in a public building. There are at least three major ratings orginazitions now and at least two of those now carry more clout than the good ole UL label once did.

As far as DIY stuff goes, there may not be insurance coverage if your home burns down doe to the DIY project going up in flames. However using a good quality metal enclosure is a good way to be able to easily show if the amp(or what ever) caused the fire or not. With a sealed off electronic enclosure the insides will probably look like clean and new proving that the fire started elsewhere. Also at least here in the states all home fires are throughly investigated by the local fire department and that finding generally carries more weight in a court case.

There is one other simple method to alleviate any possible insurance problems and thats to leave your equipment unplugged when you're not around. If a fire starts the FD will notice that the equipment is not plugged in...assuming there's enough left for them to see. In most civilized areas the average house fire rarely gets out of control.
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Old 25th October 2003, 03:45 PM   #5
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Default Fire and Insurance

A fire would not be problem, however getting the insurance to pay the value of your DIY project migh be another story.

If your equipment is built well and with the propper safegards
you will not have an issue in the US. In canada that might be different, you should use CSA approved wire.
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Old 26th October 2003, 12:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mark A. Gulbrandsen
As far as DIY stuff goes, there may not be insurance coverage if your home burns down doe to the DIY project going up in flames. However using a good quality metal enclosure is a good way to be able to easily show if the amp(or what ever) caused the fire or not. With a sealed off electronic enclosure the insides will probably look like clean and new proving that the fire started elsewhere. Also at least here in the states all home fires are throughly investigated by the local fire department and that finding generally carries more weight in a court case.

Mark
What if the insurance company claims that your DIY amp did not catch fire, but, it was the device which burned the electrical wiring in your house which in turn started the fire? Knowing insurance companies, they will look for any excuse not to pay.
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Old 26th October 2003, 12:28 AM   #7
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I don't know how much it would help to argue for your case, but
if you are worried, make sure you follow all safety regulations
for mains wiring etc., document on paper how you have done
this and take close-up photos showing the actual wiring and
solutions. Oh, and don't forget to store these documents and
photoes somewhere else than in your house.
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Old 26th October 2003, 12:40 AM   #8
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What amplifier?
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Old 26th October 2003, 01:11 AM   #9
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With properly breakered, or fused circuits in a home I think the chance is pretty slim of that happenning. The only situation I can think of is an old home that might still have alumnium wiring. In that case the insurance co. would blame it on the wiring not meeting codes, not the device being used. There are ALOT of homes that still have alumnium wiring in them!!!!

Again, usually the fire departments findings carry the most weight. I know two people whos homes had fires in them. Both parties insurance companies paid their claims almost immediately. In one case the fire was started by an electric heater being too close to a curtain, the second one was a car that had a leak in the fuel line. To my knowledge neither the car maker, rapair station, nor heater manufacturer was sued or questioned at all.
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Old 26th October 2003, 01:20 AM   #10
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BTW, not right on topic but, I have talked to firemen about
electrical hazards, not DY stuff though. The two most important
thiings to do to avoid fire due to electric equipment are:
1) Always pull the mains plug of you coffe brewer whennot
using it, just switching it off is not sufficient for many of these.
2) Always swicth off your TV set with the mains switch at the
front, rather than just through the remote control. The fire
department in my area did a advertisement campaing for this,
and it turned out that TV-related fires decreased dramatically
here compared to the rest of the country. (Me, I confess I am
usually to lazy to follow this advice.)

BTW, I also asked about the risks of PCs catching fire. He said
that to their experience this was almost a no-proglem. They
contain so much flame-protection chemicals that are almost
impossible to set on fire. They told me they had attemptd a
realistic fire-evacuation exercise (don't know the english
term) at a local company. To add to the realism, they decided
to set a few PCs on fire. They eventually had to pour about
two litres of petrol into the case to finally get it burning.

Your local fire departments mileage may vary, of course.
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