Friday, April 20, 2012

What is it?

I'll finish up the home inspection series shortly.  In the meantime I thought this was interesting.

What is it?

I came across one of these in an old house in Gates Mills.  It was on the ceiling of the detached garage.  Luckily, the caretaker of the estate is a retired fireman so he gave me the scoop.  From about 1870-1910 fire “grenades” were marketed as a form of fire extinguisher.  They contain a chemical, in most cases carbon-tetrachloride or CTC.  Some early ones used salt water.  Used for electrical fires, they were mostly removed by the 1950s due to the dangerous nature of the chemical inside- repeated exposure damages the nervous system and internal organs, and with heat CTC converts to Phosgene gas which was used as chemical weapon.  This particular type would have a lead wire that would melt and release the chemical.  If you come across one, tell your client that they have a dangerous but valuable antique, best removed.

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