Consumer Alert: Ovens exploding in homes across country

In recent weeks, there have been a lot of reports about exploding ovens across the country. One couple shared their story that consumers will want to hear.

Ben Cady and Jenny Drumgoole tell Action News they got the surprise of their life after baking a pizza this summer.

The two said after their food was done cooking they turned off their oven and an hour later it exploded.

"So the whole front of the oven just exploded out, all of the glass just shattered out," said Cady.

Cady and Drumgoole bought the Kenmore oven brand new from Sears five years ago.

"Their bottom line response was because it was more than a year old, which is their standard warranty, it's not their problem," said Drumgoole. "They just washed their hands of it."

Sears tells Action News Kenmore places the highest priority on safety and "uses safety glass that is specifically designed to 'pebble' into small pieces with rounded edges to help prevent injury" but "since this (the Cady/Drumgoole situation) is not a defect or safety issue, any repair or replacement would be at the consumer's expense."

The tempered or "safety glass" in ovens made by a wide variety of companies have been exploding in homes across the country.

Martha Kavanaugh in San Francisco said her GE oven exploded without warning in 2011, and she hadn't used it in days.

KGO, an ABC station in San Francisco, reached out to GE. The company admitted the glass on a range can suddenly shatter if it's been damaged before, adding the glass might not shatter until long after the damage was done - even months later.

"GE warns consumers about inadvertent damage to glass oven doors - including the potential for broken or shattered glass - in its Use and Care Guide," a statement from General Electric said. Specifically, the guide says to "avoid scratching or impacting glass doors, cooktops or control panels. Doing so may lead to glass breakage."

GE did not say how bad the damage must be to result in shattering, stating breaks are very rare, but the company uses a tempered glass design to break safely - just in case.

After ABC7 got involved, GE stepped up and replaced Kavanaugh's glass for free.

A similar story came out of Seattle in 2012 with a Frigidaire oven. Electrolux, which makes Frigidaire, said it too is serious about safety.

By email, spokeswoman Eloise Hale said, "We take the safety of our products seriously and work diligently with industry regulators to ensure the glass used in oven doors is performing as expected."

Manufactures like Electrolux point out the glass in its ovens are in compliance with federal and industry safety standards.

Glass experts warn to be especially alert when using your oven's self-cleaning feature because extremely high heat can increase your chances of an explosion.

Steve Geringer in North Carolina said his Kitchen Aid oven exploded during the self-cleaning mode last Christmas.

Jules Lynn of Berks County posted a photo on reporter Nydia Han's Facebook page this month stating her Whirlpool oven door shattered during the first self-clean mode.

Jules Lynn of Berks County posted a photo on reporter Nydia Han's Facebook page this month stating her Whirlpool oven door shattered during the first self-clean mode.



The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the government agency in charge of our safety.

But despite all the complaints it's received about this issue over the years, its response is simply:

As we always say, glass should break into nuggets and not shards. There is a safety standard that calls for glass to break in that manner (if it does break). We have consistently not gone on camera for stories related to glass breaking, but we are working to improve the federal safety standard to have it match the current industry standard. We encourage all consumers to use SaferProducts.gov to report incidents to us.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission also said there have not been any recalls of the GE models for glass breakage.

So what can you do to prevent this?

According to Kenmore's owner's manual (and other manufactures):

1. Do not close the oven door until all the oven racks are fully in place.
2. Do not hit the glass with pots, pans, or any other object.
3. Scratching, hitting, jarring or stressing the glass may weaken its structure causing an increased risk of breakage at a later time.

But the consumers we talked to said they didn't do any of those things, and that had nothing to do with the ovens exploding.

Still, they were still left with the mess and the repair costs.

If your oven does explode, take pictures, contact the manufacturer and file a report with the CPSC.

In some cases, companies will replace or repair the oven free of charge even after it's out of warranty. In many other cases, they may flatly refuse.

Here are some additional tips to avoid oven explosions:

- If you door has handles that need tightening, do not over-tighten the screws
- Never slam the oven door closed

The Consumer Product Safety Commission encourages all consumers to use http://saferproducts.gov to report incidents to Action News. You can also access reports related to this issue by visiting http://www.saferproducts.gov/Search/Result.aspx?dm=0&q=ovens+and+glass&srt=0&t=2.

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From CPSC:

Here is a link to reports that are readily available on SaferProduct.gov related to this issue:
www.saferproducts.gov/.
As we always say, glass should break into nuggets and not shards. There is a safety standard that calls for glass to break in that manner (if it does break). We have consistently not gone on camera for stories related to glass breaking, but we are working to improve the federal safety standard to have it match the current industry standard. We encourage all consumers to use SaferProducts.gov to report incidents to us.

Statement from the Kenmore brand:

The Kenmore brand places the highest priority on the safety of our products and those who use them. Ovens and ranges are specifically designed to withstand the high heat involved in cooking.

Damage to the glass can be caused by a number of things including using the door to push in an oven rack or an object striking the glass-both examples may cause a weakness and lead to failure over time.

As a precaution, and for the safety of our customers, the Kenmore brand (and the industry in general) uses safety glass that is specifically designed to "pebble" into small pieces with rounded edges to help prevent injury if the glass breaks. This is the latest technology and while the sound may startle a homeowner, Kenmore ovens and ranges comply with industry (UL) Safety Standards for Household Ranges. Some additional information which may be helpful is the reference to the glass pulled from our owner's manual.

Owner's Manual, page 26:
Special Door Care Instructions - Most oven doors contain glass. Glass can break.
Read the following recommendations:
1. Do not close the oven door until all the oven racks are fully in place.
2. Do not hit the glass with pots, pans, or any other object.
3. Scratching, hitting, jarring or stressing the glass may weaken its structure causing an increased risk of breakage at a later time.

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Statement from Kristine Sherman, Whirlpool Spokesperson, after we contacted them about the incident Jules Lynn posted on my FB page:

I am pleased that we recently came to a resolution that she found to be fair.

Whirlpool Corporation continuously monitors the performance of its products and reviews incidents that are brought to our attention. This process allows for a fact based, and individualized analysis approach to determine root causes which may provide valuable information and possible improvements in design and manufacturing processes.

To help understand what may have happened in this case it is important to understand the nature of Tempered Glass - often referred to as "safety glass" - which is used in a number of products in and around the home (Tempered glass can be found in automobiles, shower doors, table tops, coffee carafes etc.)

Whirlpool uses tempered glass in its appliances because it is heat resistant, strong, and less likely to break but also because when it does break, it "shatters" into small pieces with less potential for causing harm.

If tempered glass is damaged from an impact, it is possible that the impact was strong enough to leave a microscopic surface fracture, however not severe enough to break the glass at the time of impact. Many times this type of fracture is not apparent or visible. The surface fracture can continue to grow slowly over time and then when the fracture reaches the inner layer of the glass panel (which is in tension) the result produces a crumbling or shattering of the glass panel. This shattering can happen long after the initial impact that caused the surface fracture.

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GE response to KGO, ABC station in San Francisco:

General Electric admitted the glass on a range can suddenly shatter if it's been damaged before. GE says the glass might not shatter until long after the damage was done -- even months later.

"GE warns consumers about inadvertent damage to glass oven doors -- including the potential for broken or shattered glass -- in its Use and Care Guide," a statement from General Electric said.

Specifically, the guide says to "avoid scratching or impacting glass doors, cooktops or control panels. Doing so may lead to glass breakage."

GE did not say how bad the damage must be to result in shattering. GE says breaks are very rare, but the company uses a tempered glass design to break safely -- just in case.
A
fter ABC7 got involved, GE stepped up and replaced her glass for free.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said there have not been any recalls of the GE models for glass breakage.

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Frigidaire response from KOMO-TV, ABC station in Seattle:

Electrolux, which makes Frigidaire, said it too is serious about safety. By email, spokeswoman Eloise Hale said, "We take the safety of our products seriously and work diligently with industry regulators to ensure the glass used in oven doors is performing as expected."

"We also recommend the consumers reference their owners manual for safety tips and care instructions on the doors. They are: Special Door Care Instructions - Most oven doors contain glass that can break. Read the following recommendations: 1. Do not close the oven door until all the oven racks are fully in place. 2. Do not hit the glass with pots, pans, or any other object. 3. Scratching, hitting, jarring or stressing the glass may weaken its structure causing an increased risk of breakage at a later time. "

Electrolux points out that the glass in all their ovens are in compliance with federal and industry safety standards.

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Response for Kitchen Aid statement from WTVD, the ABC station in North Carolina.

We reached out to Whirlpool, which manufactures the Kitchen Aid brand. The company replaced Geringer's stove and issued this statement:

"Whirlpool uses tempered glass in its oven doors. Tempered glass is strong and heat resistant and gets its strength from a tempering process during which the glass is heated to extremely high temperatures and then cool quickly. Tempered glass is used because it is stronger and less likely to break, but also because when it does break, it "shatters" into small pieces with less potential for causing harm. If tempered glass is damaged from an impact, it is possible that the impact was strong enough to leave a microscopic surface fracture, however not severe enough to break the glass at the time of impact. Many times this type of fracture is not apparent or visible. The surface fracture can continue to grow slowly over time and then when the fracture which originated on the outer surface of the glass panel, (which is in compression) reaches the inner layer of the glass panel (which is in tension) the result produces the crumbling or shattering of the glass panel. This shattering can happen long after the initial impact that caused the surface fracture."
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