Endsleigh specialise in Home Contents Insurance for people in the UK

Fire Scare (don’t worry, there’s a happy ending)


Last night, at 2am, we were awakened by the “beep….beep….beep” of our fire alarm. I, being the paranoid one, shot straight up in bed and tried to wake Teague, who declared “The fire alarm just needs batteries. It’ll go off on it’s own.”


A) It wasn’t the “low battery beep, and no it won’t just stop on it’s own
B) I was way too freaked to stay in bed and not check on things

So, I get up, bleary-eyed and stumbling, and open the bedroom door to find our living room and office FILLED with what appears to be smoke. My heart drops, and I yell “Oh my god, Teague – the house is on fire!” and make a beeline for the office, where the smoke is densest. I don’t see any flames, so my first thought is some type of electrical fire in the walls. Teague has finally gotten out of bed and is wandering silently through the fog with a very confused look on his face. Keep in mind, we’ve only been awake about 30 seconds and are still extremely out of it.

My brother Cody (who lives in an apartment upstairs, and works a late shift so was awake at the time) hears the commotion and comes down to see what’s going on. I tell him I think the house is on fire, and his reply is “But it doesn’t smell like smoke… it’s like steam, or something.”

DOH! All of a sudden the lightbulb goes off in my head. Teague had unhooked one of our steam radiators to prepare the office for hardwood floor sanding. This particular radiator had no shut-off valve. Neither of us had remembered to turn the heat off, and temps dropped into the low 30’s last night.

When the heat kicked on, it filled the house with STEAM – which apparently will set off your fire alarm.

So…. yeah, we’re idiots. We had a good laugh about it, turned the heat off, and went back to bed.

I think it’s especially funny that I was walking through a moist, non-smelling, non-cough-inducing fog yet it never occured to me that it wasn’t smoke. I guess in my stupor, alarm=fire and that was that!

I shared an embarrassing story, so now it’s your turn. What’s been your biggest “DOH!” moment related to your adventures in home repair?

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

amanda had this to say on 04.28.06:

That would have been really, really scary! I’m glad that it wasn’t anything serious. Our biggest DOH! moment was after a year of dealing with low water pressure and freezing cold showers, we paid 5k to get the water line replaced. After the plumber, moling crews, concrete crews, and bulldozer crews left, I went upstairs to turn on the shower. The pressure was better, but it was still freezing cold. I called my husband, who came home early. For the next two hours, we ran through all of the possible things that we could do to get the water hotter… insulate pipes, replace the hot water heater, etc. etc. After he got home, he went upstairs and played around with the shower for awhile. I went downstairs to make dinner, and suddenly I could hear him screaming my name from upstairs- I was worried something was wrong, but when I got upstairs, he told me to stick my hand under the faucet. Of course, the water was hot! I asked him how he fixed it, and he pointed to the faucet handle. It was turned all the way to cold. 5k later, and all we really had to do (although the pressure was much better) was just turn the water on the other way. DOH!

Graham had this to say on 04.28.06:

Ok, so I had the really nice piece of molding for the livingroom and I wanted to put it up as one piece. Being the clever sort I measured from one wall out 6 inches and marked it,then measured from the other wall to my mark so I would have exactly the right length. Well I marked the molding and cut it. When I went to put it up guess what? It was exactly 6 inches short, I had forgotten to add the 6 inches that were my first measurement.

Alex had this to say on 04.29.06:

While doing the gutters and siding last summer I often worked outside in the dark with only a spotlight well into the night. This night, I had finished up the lower gutter on our single store 10ft roof. I had cleaned everything up and was packing it in for the night. It was about 95 degrees still at night, I was exhausted from working, and borderline dehydrated from sweat loss. I had packed everying up, including the folding ladder when I realized I left the spare end cap from one of the gutters on the roof. Rather then folding the ladder out completely to get back up on the roof, I decided I could set it up like a step ladder and get on the top rung and skooch my butt onto the roof.

This was a bad idea.

While skooching, I ha partial weight on the roof, but not enough to balance, and my foot kicked my ladder out from under myself, I tried my best to stay up, but my weight carried my forward. My feet and leggs swung under the roof’s edge and I lost my grip. I fell perpendicular to the ground, 10ft, landing on the bricks and tangled in the ladder, with only my hands to break my fall. My wife looked up in time to see me in mid flight and had heard the whole ruccus.

I broke both wrists, but I was so obsessed with getting the siding and gutters done in time for the painters, I never went to the hospital, I just dealt with the pain and ignored it. By the time I had it confirmed, it was too late to fix them, they had already healed on their own. Now, about 10 months later, both wrists hurt when it is cold and rainy. That was my most stupid moment of home improvement.

mindy had this to say on 05.01.06:

Oooof – painful stories, both to the wallet and body.

Alex, your wife must have freaked when she saw you flying past the window like that. How scary! At least you broke your fall with your wrists, instead of your head….

Kelly had this to say on 05.01.06:

I did the *exact* same thing to my radiator — came home after a Lowes-run to find the living room looking like the opening scenes from X-files. Complete sauna. Took me a minute to realize what had happened, and I didn’t have the excuse of being half asleep. I gotta say, it could have been a much more destructive oops!

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