This is a post about Gas Oven Cleaning Dip Tank Safety I wrote a while ago. But I've updated it for 2021.
Gas Oven Cleaning Dip Tank Safety
So this is a post about gas oven cleaning dip tank safety. Why write this post/ Well it's to better inform our customers, and potential franchisees who may be consider our business model, about the way our competitors operate - we don't use gas heated dip tanks so we won't have a gas burner burning outside your home whilst we are cleaning your oven.
This is a gas barbecue safety film. I think though another way to describe this video is to ask: "Gas burners for oven cleaning - why have them?" I know the main oven cleaning franchises use them so there are a lot of oven cleaning vans out there with them but really this originates from the fact that they have always used them since the early 1990s. Once you have a system set up in a franchise model it is very difficult to change it.
The counter argument is to say look at all the caravans and campervans that have them. But when you look into this, by say searching on Google for "Caravan Explosion" . You get examples such as this:
January of 2021: Explosion in a residential Caravan park in Bracknell
Why Do Oven Cleaning Businesses Use Gas Dip Tanks?
Oven Cleaning companies use gas heated dip tanks because they are relatively easy to get hold of. We ourselves as a company don't use them; we have always used plastic tanks that are heated up electrically. I think I got lucky with this as when I started in 2004 I wouldn't have known the difference.
OvenGleamers Electrically Heated Dip Tanks
For our arrangement there is a risk of people tripping over the lead whilst it is plugged in to your house at night, or early in the morning, but if you have an off road parking space (all the guys who work for us have - it's something we ask them before they start) then there isn't a problem. We have an outside charging point at my office for my van. The van can be parked right next to the charger with just a small length of cable that doesn't touch the ground.
With our OvenGleamers Professional Insulated Dip Tank Once our tank is heated up at the start of the day then that is it for the day, withe the insulated dip tank the the solution stays hot, there is no more heating of the tank, and there are no safety risks to the operator or the general public, even when the operators are rushing to fit in as many jobs as possible in a day.
Contrast this with the gas burner arrangement to heat up a metal dip tank or tray, operators are heating up at each jobs maybe 3 to 4 times a day, some are leaving the van unattended whilst there is a live flame inside, some even driving with a live flame in the back heating up the solution as they drive between jobs. It really is this crazy. Also they stand next to the tank with the flame on, scrubbing for hours each day to get the bits they've put into the tanks perfectly clean.
I was in Cardiff a few weeks back and there was an oven cleaning van parked up with an A-Board on the ground next to it. The sign said "warning there is a live flame in this vehicle keep away". That is something to re assure you isn't it!
And there is a franchise using a system where the tank is set up in the road, or the customers drive, on a wooden tressle. They ask the customer for buckets of water and then heat up the tank. It was a mad idea when OvenClean used this system in 2006 - they no longer use this and upgraded their system in 2008 ish, For another company to bring it back as the way they operate is just being plain stupid.
Steps to make your gas oven cleaning dip tank safe
Follow the advisory rules from the HSE - see below. The main thing as far as I can see, is make sure that the connection to the propane gas bottle is properly connected and regularly tested for leaks - apply some soapy water to the connection points and look for bubbles. Ensure that checks are carried out often, if you buy an old oven cleaning dip tank from Ebay replace the supply pipe and regulator with a new one. If you are heating up you really need to stay with the van to ensure the burners are kept safe. The other safety issue I have noticed is the failure to secure the propane or Calor gas cylinders in the vehicle properly, so ensure that your gas bottle is secured with a strong strap whilst you are driving between job
HSE Advisory Rules For Gas Oven Cleaning Dip Tanks in Business
I wrote this article a few years back. Since then we have had a few oven cleaning van explosions. Here's a couple:
And after those two explosions the HSE took the following action and issue this advice for oven cleaning companies.
I know that this HSE document could be construed as advisory. But a 'Safety Alert' Is:
Aim of bulletin: Safety alerts are for major faults that would result in a serious or fatal injury and where immediate remedial action is required.
And the Aim of bulletin: A safety notice is usually issued to facilitate a change in procedure or it requires an action to be undertaken to improve the level of protection or instruction in a potentially dangerous situation. It must be acted upon within a reasonable time, if a time period is not stated. It is not as immediate as a safety alert.
To me this is common sense but looking online at videos and training videos I haven't seen anyone implementing this. Even my main franchise competitors who have used gas systems for years are still operating in the same way.
It is going to cost some money to implement it, but your van will be the best it can be. if I had gas bottles and operated a gas dip tank system in my eight vans, I'd be following this. I've heard, for example, that some independents are fitting LPG external bottles - as used in LPG vehicles that can be filled up at petrol stations- which is a step in the right direction and a good idea.
If you are looking to buy a franchise or a business I'd say make sure that they are following these 'rules'. I think the key thing is to be properly trained in the use of the gas oven cleaning dip tank, in its maintenance, and operation by someone who knows what they are doing and they can show that they are doing this.
For example I notice someone who is selling courses in setting up an oven cleaning business and has a van with rear seats for his children to ride in and right next to them are two gas tanks for his system. Not mounted externally or in a sealed compartment that is separate from the passengers as stated in the HSE document.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Look at the number of deaths since 1995 here: https://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/data-menu/deaths/
And of course there is the other risk of dying from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. When i look at the number of deaths in the UK on the above list it makes me worry about a certain competitor of mine. They have gas systems and the oven cleaner stays in the van when he is heating up - with the windows down - for somethimes hours.
This is a serious issue as I know too well how easily a small mistake can easily kill you as in 1992 I nearly died in my cottage in North Wales from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - a blocked up chimney - I was only saved by my girlfriend dragging me, after I had collapsed with the fumes, from the building.