Thread Number: 71469  /  Tag: Refrigerators
Horrible Apartment Bulidng Fire In UK and Exploding Refrigerators.
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Post# 945757   6/28/2017 at 18:06 (299 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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First let one say am deeply saddened and greatly affected by the Grenfell flats fire. Such a tragic loss of life that could have been easily avoided it seems.. One's heart goes out to those who have suffered grievous losses and the other victims.

Being as this may while reading local media coverage of the fire (NYT) the article mentions an exploding refrigerator (Hotpoint) as likely culprit in starting the blaze.

Am at a loss on this; how does an refrigerator "explode"? Have never heard of such a thing in all my experience. We are speaking of an electrically powered unit no?

Post# 945762 , Reply# 1   6/28/2017 at 18:51 (299 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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Some earlier UK flammable gas based refrigerators did not put the switches and parts that spark outside the compartment. Hotpot inn the U.K. is such trash, I'm totally not surprised.

Post# 945768 , Reply# 2   6/28/2017 at 19:36 (299 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Fridge coolant

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I believe that when chlorofluorocarbon type coolants and their hydrochlorofluorocarbon successors were outlawed for damaging the ozone layer, butane/propane mixtures were used instead. These butane/propane mixtures are flammable.

There was some report about someone's Samsung fridge-freezer exploding, the door blew off and the kitchen was wrecked.


Post# 945769 , Reply# 3   6/28/2017 at 19:41 (299 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Creda, made by Indesit

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A woman's fridge-freezer exploded.


Post# 945771 , Reply# 4   6/28/2017 at 19:42 (299 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Exploding Refrigerators

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Most refs in Europe [ 90% in Germany alone ] use butane gas as the refrigerant which is highly flammable, a leak near the red-hot defrost heater or a leak at a compressor terminal is all you need for a really good fire.


We are seeing the little Frigidaire refs that are built in China that have Butane in them, there are even warnings inside the freezer not to ever apply heat or use any sharp tools in the freezer section.

Post# 945772 , Reply# 5   6/28/2017 at 19:50 (299 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Thanks guys

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Ever since events unfolded have been keenly following. Am that gob smacked that a building would be allowed to have such flammable cladding, worse that it seems everyone from local council on up to Downing Street ignored clearly what was a powder keg primed to blow.

Living in a large urban area (New York) which by nature includes many high rise buildings. ones worse fears are being stuck in when during a major fire. These fears were intensified after the horrible events of 9/11/01.

That a tall building basically went up in flames like *that*, is amazing.

Post# 945773 , Reply# 6   6/28/2017 at 19:50 (299 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Another one...

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But "pentane gas" is mentioned as being in this one, near the end of the newspaper article.

I suppose it is conceivable that different manufacturers might have different coolants.

Thoroughly dreadful for all families involved.


Post# 945774 , Reply# 7   6/28/2017 at 20:02 (299 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"Ignored clearly what was a powder keg"

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Indeed so.

Fire experts advised - and were ignored, or were overruled - as per usual. Probably cheaper variants were used to cut costs.

It is thoroughly shocking in this day and age, that house fires are as bad now as they were decades ago. So much for the march of progress.

The horror of the situation the victims were in, is just too awful to contemplate.

Post# 945775 , Reply# 8   6/28/2017 at 20:12 (299 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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Apparently, this is the machine which caused it all.


Post# 945788 , Reply# 9   6/28/2017 at 21:27 (299 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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What was put on the outside of the building to"Pretty it up" was never meant to be used in any building that a fire department ladder truck cant reach and I am sure London has good ones that could still not reach. this cladding has a very flammable inside and when that apartment blew up the whole place went up. Maybe other parts of the world should use the R2D2 or whatever it is that runs our refrigerators now.My next door neighbor is a Fire Chief and said this would never have been allowed in the US, BUT do people skirt the law, OH YA!

Post# 945791 , Reply# 10   6/28/2017 at 21:56 (299 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
No, that alumimum/styrofoam sandwich cladding

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Isn't allowed for building facades here in USA. And any one who did so in the event of a fire or disaster such on the magnitude of what happened in UK would be sued into the ground, and that includes Alcoa or whatever it calls itself now.

Since UK court system and liability laws are different there won't any of the same "hundreds of billions" of dollars legal judgments I shouldn't wonder. More is the pity; it clearly that would be the only thing those in government and elsewhere who failed to head the warnings would understand.

We shall have to see what comes out of coroner's inquest.

Post# 945830 , Reply# 11   6/29/2017 at 06:35 (299 days old) by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

From reading the news there are numerous buildings throughout Europe that have this type of siding on them. There was mentioned yesterday that a building in Germany was evacuated and all residents were moved to another empty building so that they could start the removal process. I think it was 76 units. They did not want residents staying in it another day. So I guess this is going to be an ongoing process. I pray that no others have to go through this and loose life.


Post# 945833 , Reply# 12   6/29/2017 at 06:57 (299 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
BBC Scotland's evening news...

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...reported that Edinburgh Napier University Halls of Residence has a similar dangerous cladding, with wood effect. These are to be replaced.

Apparently the student accommodation is owned by a third party, but maintenance repairs are done by the university. Supposedly other fire prevention measures were also fitted in this particular case.

And once again, who authorised the installation of these panels?


Post# 945834 , Reply# 13   6/29/2017 at 07:06 (299 days old) by iej (Ireland)        

I've been very surprised at the slow recall on some appliances that have had issues with fires.

The law suits here aren't exactly insignificant here in Ireland anyway. For example €51,244 for psychological trauma after a fire caused by a dishwasher.

There's been a major issue with a certain company's dryers catching fire and they have a recall and repair notice out but it's moving incredibly slowly.

Post# 945836 , Reply# 14   6/29/2017 at 07:24 (299 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
German evacuation

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Post# 945843 , Reply# 15   6/29/2017 at 07:55 (299 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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Public housing (or Social Housing) has been a sticky touch point in politics and society since it's inception in the late 1800's. Lack of proper funding, design problems and stigmas have plagued the sector and continue all but unabated today.

The U.S. HOPE VI program in the 1990's set out to correct many of these issues with aging housing stock but other than a handful of success stories, hasn't lived up to it's own name for providing safe, habitable housing for the poor and elderly. The Section 8 program in the US provides direct housing assistance for the poor and elderly and has adopted a voucher program in an effort to clear out behemoth housing projects in major cities and shifted the residents to, in many cases, private single family homes and apartments. Instead of being able to point a finger at a tower block or neighborhood, this has dispersed the same problems across larger areas of cities and towns but hasn't cured the problem. Lack of inventory and funding have only exacerbated the underlying problems but made them less visible and offensive to the observer. It's estimated that only one in four (one quarter) of our citizens who need and would qualify for housing assistance in this country actually get the help they need. For a glimpse of the largely invisible problems faced by a shocking number of people in the US who live with housing insecurity, check out the book Evicted by Matthew Desmond (link).

One of the HOPE VI programs that tried to alleviate the housing shortage was public-private partnerships, similar to the Grenfell tower in London. Instead of creating a more efficient and cost effective solution, in many cases, it has led to the degradation of quality housing and created another layer of danger in the housing system. The same can be said of health care and education, but those are different threads of the same fabric.

Until we as a society begin to take seriously the need for proper, safe housing for our fellow human beings and recognize the value of housing security being first and foremost in our supposed "war on poverty" we will continue to marginalize the most vulnerable and least powerful among us.


Post# 945864 , Reply# 16   6/29/2017 at 10:48 (298 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
I hope they never

start building those tower blocks here again.
A NY state company made those exterior panels. Several survivors were treated for cyanide gas inhalation made by the burning panels.
They are not legal for use in the USA for any building over 40 ft. high, or where a fire truck ladder can not reach.

There was a fatal tower block fire also in south London in 2011 which killed about 11 people.
Many of those have been demolished and replaced by low rise housing.
I realize the UK had to resort to towers after the housing shortage caused by WW2.
On site concrete prefabrication is low cost.
In winter, the steel lag bolts holding them together transfers the cold to the interior walls and condenses and makes mildew, so fires aren't the only issues.
The flamable cladding was added to insulate the walls better.
In 1968, at Ronan Point in east London, a 55 year old cake decorator lit her gas stove to make her morning tea, and it exploded, tearing out the entire corner of that 16 story tower. She was thrown to her living room by the blast and survived, but residents on other floors weren't so lucky.
If you know central London, you may be familiar with the now Grade 1 listed historical Barbican estate. It's style is brutalist architecture.
Another well know tower is Trellick Tower, designed by Erno Goldfinger.

Post# 945872 , Reply# 17   6/29/2017 at 12:16 (298 days old) by iej (Ireland)        

The biggest concern isn't the concept of social housing it's the appropriateness of British building regulations to high rise residential blocks.

The reality in the UK is high rise living is very much for exception and unlike many places, there's far less experience of it. Other than a handful of high exclusive apartment buildings in London, the only places that highrise have been used for was cheap 1960s-70s social housing.

We had limited experience and just a few examples of these kinds of blocks used for social housing in Dublin in Ireland, but they were demolished in the early 2000s and replaced with low rise and mixed developments with individual houses, terraces and smaller apartment buildings due to decades of major practical and social problems associated with the towers.

Some of the things that shocked me about Grenfell other than the cladding is the complete lack of sprinkler systems in a building that tall. It appears it only has one stairwell and one of its two entrances was closed for refurbishment.

Here's the only such development here in Ireland in 1966 (now demolished). It was put up to deal with a massive clearance of very poor quality city centre accommodation and a fairly huge social housing programme in the 1930s-70s

Interesting little patronisingly presented promo film of the Ballymun flat complex from the mid 1960s

They were very "brave new world" stuff back in their day but in general they were pretty unpleasant places to live.

*piped television (mentioned in the film) is mid 1960s irish terminology for cable TV.
the Corporation = old terminology for city council. It doesn't mean a private company as in the US.

I think though many of those buildings were built to a price and a speed and were very human-unfriendly places in reality, particularly where they were badly run.

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This post was last edited 06/29/2017 at 12:44
Post# 945874 , Reply# 18   6/29/2017 at 12:58 (298 days old) by mrb627 (Buford, GA)        
At Least...

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it was an accident and not malicious or terrorism.

I hope this doesn't entice an arsonist into targeting another building with similar cladding.


Post# 945887 , Reply# 19   6/29/2017 at 14:48 (298 days old) by iej (Ireland)        

Very unlikely to happen again now that the cause is identified the cladding will all have to be replaced, regardless of cost, as otherwise the buildings would be uninsurable.

Post# 945894 , Reply# 20   6/29/2017 at 15:38 (298 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Ah Yes! Ballymun,

near the Dublin airport. Looks very different today, as does Divis in Belfast, where only the tower stands as senior apartments now. Oh, the "troubles".
The Divis flats were meant to improve life for poor and lower working class, but within 5 years were worse than the old back to back slum terraces it replaced.

Post# 945898 , Reply# 21   6/29/2017 at 16:32 (298 days old) by Davey7 (Chicago)        

I've been following the Grenfell Tower fire fairly closely, partially for professional interest.

A few things I've learned about the fire and it's rapid spread (and have opinions about):

1. It sounds like a lot of European refrigerators have flammable plastic backs rather than it being a problem of flammable gas per se.

2. The Cladding, the cladding and the cladding (or it's the cladding stupid). It was obviously flammable (and isn't allowed on the continent or in the US above 40 feet iirc) and improperly installed. There were also likely no firebreaks as specified within the installation. This was seen in Australia as well on a fire started on the exterior of a high-rise by an errant cigarette.

3. It sounds like much of the refurbishment was shoddy - poorly installed doors and rubbish in the stairs and corridors. This was an ongoing issue - I knew about this several years ago (it wasn't an exceptional building, downright ugly in fact, compared to a lot of other iconic buildings nearby) and it was no secret that the residents were angry.

4. It hasn't been made clear yet, but as there was gas service to the individual units, was it shut off when the firemen arrived (have seen no sign of this)?

5. I also suspect that there was a lot of flammable materials in the recent construction - I'd always thought that the UK was strict about that in construction, but I think they got both cheap and complacent with standards, although they are also at the forefront of improvements in fire safety in some construction scenarios. Since it appears that pretty much all the buildings that have been reclad have failed, it's a systematic national problem in the UK with construction, not just social housing or tall buildings - I've seen a lot of cheap construction for market rate buildings too - lots of plastics, etc.

6. In and of itself the single stairway isn't a problem, though probably undersized for exiting/egress (or evacuating the entire building at once). In this case it sounds like doors were propped and ill-fitting and the ventilation incorrectly designed or modified (and of course, people were evacuating via elevator - some died this way! - as someone who lives and works in elevator buildings, I know to avoid the elevator in fires).

7. I think lack of fire alarms and central smoke/fire detection system was the biggest problem - people would have gotten out quicker had they known right away rather than waiting. With the high density of residents and single stair there should have been sprinklers in the common corridors and stairs, though this could have been compromised by the insane spread lower down in the building (and a lot of the deaths probably were inhalation which stopped people from getting out - sprinklers might not have helped).

Anyways, rant over, I hope I gave at least **some** insight.

Post# 945914 , Reply# 22   6/29/2017 at 20:24 (298 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
European refrigerators have flammable plastic backs

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They do.

London Fire Brigade has a video which compares a UK model to an American fridge. The US model had a metal back plate and thus reduces the fire blaze.
The UK model went up like Roman Candle within one minute, due to the plastic.

Linked, below. Scroll down the link for the video of fridge comparison.

But remember too that the gas in the compressor is flammable. The same kind of gases found in camping stoves, portable gas fires and cigarette lighters. One of the newspaper reports in another tragic fire (Reply #6) said it was like a Bunsen burner.

Put the two together (plastic and flammable gas), and well, you're asking for trouble. That should not be allowed to happen.


Post# 945996 , Reply# 23   6/30/2017 at 10:22 (297 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
I'm very surprised

that building codes, or major appliance specs are so antiquated in the UK or EU.
I know many are sourced from Beko, a Turkish company, and Turkey isn't second or third world either.
Germany is really the surprise because they take such pride in their products and most are masterpieces in quality.
Gaggenau, Miele, Bosch, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Benz, etc.

Post# 946192 , Reply# 24   7/1/2017 at 09:02 (297 days old) by iej (Ireland)        

I think the European regulations on fridges need to be reviewed.
There's been too much reliance on industries to self regulate and be sensible and a move away from heavy state sponsored lab testing and towards self declaration of conformity with standards. This was all a very Oro business move that only appeared in the 1990s really.

Also with regards to UK building regulations, they're all great on paper but they're very loosely inspected and there's a long history of self regulation of trades and so on.

I wouldn't be quite as surprised as you. The UK and Ireland have far, far less regulated construction and access to trades than most of the USA. A lot of regulation is assumed to work because it's assumed that people will just follow the code and a lot of professions and trades are almost entirely self regulated rather than licenced. There are inspections but they're not anything like as aggressive or as frequent as the many parts of the US.

Even electrical work was largely just self regulated until EU rules began to require proper licencing of those trades and that was transposed into local law.

It's hard to generalize about Europe because you've 28 EU members and then others and all of them approach building regulations quite differently in terms of enforcement and licencing.

Post# 946227 , Reply# 25   7/1/2017 at 14:11 (296 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Appliance safety

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I am not convinced that the "CE" mark denotes any quality whatsoever.

I think we had much better quality when appliances were BEAB approved, and products - of all types - conformed to British Standards.

Look at the carry on with Bosch dishwashers. From what I read, the reason for the control panel printed circuit board catching fire, was because of underrated components being unable to withstand British over-voltage.

We need testing to be brought back in-house, and not to rely on other countries 'testing' the product in question. I just doesn't work.

Post# 946228 , Reply# 26   7/1/2017 at 14:14 (296 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
That was supposed to read...

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"It just doesn't work."

Post# 946259 , Reply# 27   7/1/2017 at 19:46 (296 days old) by iej (Ireland)        

Other countries testing would be absolutely fine.
The problem is CE is ****self-declaration**** and only really spot checked.

I think we need to move towards am independent lab tested version of CE.

The current regime places a hell of a lot of trust in manufacturers to do the right thing.

The issue with fridge standards needs to be dealt with by European Directive to force the fire retardant standards way up.

It's likely that fridge was in full compliance with existing regulations.

Post# 946315 , Reply# 28   7/2/2017 at 05:46 (296 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
How does an refrigerator "explode"?

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It doesn't. Thats the terminology the media uses which is incorrect. Much like every time power lines down and arc the media mistakenly calls it a "transformer explosion" Absolutely has nothing to do with a failing transformer and nothing is exploding. Same with a car that caught fire around me, the local media mistakenly reporting a "a car exploded going ablaze earlier this morning" People literally thought a bomb had exploded before the thing was a blaze.

This is exactly why our president frequently calls out the media so frequently. By lot and far just about everything the media reports is in some way shape or form obfuscated, erroneous, misrepresented or just plain untrue. Just about every expert in his field will tell you when the media does a report in his area of understanding its often inaccurate to some degree or another.

Major media outlets seek to generate revenue, and that often involves sensationalism. Reporters and journalists are not experts in the fields they are investigating or reporting on; and there is no system of accountability to make sure their work is accurate or truthful. Most are employed by networks seeking to push political agendas with heavy bias, and media outlets will often make up sources to remain interesting or relevant. I know most of you will think I am describing the coverage of big political stories, but this mod of operation stretches to everything from covering wars to weather reporting. None of it should be taken seriously, its extremely dangerous when you do.

Post# 946323 , Reply# 29   7/2/2017 at 07:33 (296 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
How does an refrigerator "explode"?

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They do.

Look at the newspaper reports linked above, then you'll see.


Post# 946325 , Reply# 30   7/2/2017 at 08:18 (296 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        
"None of it should be taken seriously"

See how easy it is to go wrong?  Even without meaning to.


Transformers DO explode.  The industry term is 'fault'.  Consists of high to very high potentials escaping from where they belong, exceeding the trip rating of the switchgear feeding them, accompanied by an immense amount of heat inside a sealed container, breaching said container.  In other words, exploding. 


I've seen it happen.  So have a crew of hapless firemen helplessly watching it burn for hours.  As though prescient, I awoke at 3AM just in time to hear a huge EXPLOSION a mile away, and the LED clock went dark.  Only one thing within a mile of my house to explode.  I drove to the substation and sure enough, 138kV transformer with 30-foot flames where the top used to be.


Here's where you're right:  Media covering a tornado, video of purple plasma on the horizon, voiceover says "transformer exploding".  It's typically not.  The industry calls that "faulting" too.  And there is a rapid expansion of heated gas (atmosphere) making a sound akin to thunder but with a 120Hz component thrown in. 


Here's why they say that:  They have to call it something their audience (of dummies) can relate to and they settled on 'transf explod'g'. 


Here's where you're also right:  EVERY time I hear media reporting on something *I* know in some depth, they misspeak to some extent and sometimes a great extent.  But to the bulk audience, the distinction is immaterial as it wouldn't understand the 'correct' terminology anyway, much less the physics.  Worse, from media's perspective, the audience would actually tune away because their ignorance was being exposed.  And if there's anything stupid people don't like it's their stupidity exposed. 


Which ironically is the root cause of the stupidity plague.  Media being caught in that loop. It wouldn't pay them to be dead on balls accurate.  (It's an industry term.  My Cousin Vinny.)


"The cockpit?  What is it?  It's the little room at the front of the plane where the pilots sit, but that's not important right now." 

Post# 946328 , Reply# 31   7/2/2017 at 08:52 (296 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Exploding Refrigerators

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As I mentioned in my earlier post many if not nearly all newer refs in much of the world use Butane refrigerant which is highly flammable and if a leak develops inside the ref from say a leaking evaporator [ leaking evaporators are by far the common source of sealed system leaks ] and then the control kicks on and the spark from the contact in the thromostat or relay if the ref has an electronic control and BOOM.


This could also happen with tragic consequences when you open the door and the spark from the light switch sets off an explosion.


[ Imagine being on a diet and sneaking down to the ref in the middle of the night to score some ice cream and having the ref blow up when you open the door, LOL ]


I would like to hear from you guys in other countries about how common the use of flammable butane is in refs where you live.


John L.

Post# 946329 , Reply# 32   7/2/2017 at 08:53 (296 days old) by kenwashesmonday (Haledon, NJ)        

chetlaham asked: "How does an refrigerator "explode"?"

Some refrigerators in other parts of the world use refrigerant R-600a which is actually isobutene. This is not an example of "fake news", it's an example of something you're not aware of.

I have personally seen electrical transformers explode.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO kenwashesmonday's LINK

Post# 946339 , Reply# 33   7/2/2017 at 09:38 (296 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
explode or burn...

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I was translating white papers for B/S/H when they started planning to make home refrigerators with flammable refrigerants.

They did an enormous amount of testing - both in terms of the manufacturing (vent fans and air flow and both sophisticated and mega-simple, fail-safe monitoring systems) as well as shipping, inventory, end-user.


Their engineers knew enough gas was present at the factory for an explosion. They knew enough was present in a delivery wagon on a train or in a truck for an explosion. They were unable, ever, to bring a single, solitary unit to explode with the amount of gas with which it was charged. Just couldn't get the air/gas mixture needed.


But - they (to their shock!) managed to ignite gas jets which burned long enough to set surrounding plastics on fire.

This really, really bothered them. Enough for them to change the composition of the materials, the rear wall and to reroute one capillary tube (at considerable expense).


Had I not been there, I'd have never known of it. It cost B/S/H enormous amounts of money to do it right. I sincerely doubt that the gas in a properly designed fridge, in an of itself can collect in the proper gas/air mixture to explode in the dictionary definition sense of the word. That, however, the plastics used and the awful construction and attention to safety (lack thereof) for which today's Hotpoint is known all contributed to one heck of a fire?

Don't doubt it one bit. That the melting plastic might have released enough explosive gas/es to make an explosion possible? Don't doubt that, either.


Is it possible Hotpoint had such a bad design that a pocket of R-600 managed to reach a gas/air mixture capable of explosion? Sadly, yes, I've seen enough of their trash in the UK to believe they'd make such a mistake.


So - realistically - no, refrigerators don't, all in all, explode. Can they, under certain conditions? Obviously, yes.


Is R-600 therefore a bad choice? Nope. Just Hotpoint.



Post# 946362 , Reply# 34   7/2/2017 at 14:53 (295 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Exploding Refrigerators

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Cigarette lighters can explode with barely one once of butane in then, refs usually have 4 or 5 ounces of butane in them.

Post# 946373 , Reply# 35   7/2/2017 at 15:39 (295 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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My Beko fridge-freezer has R600a, which is isobutane.


Post# 946375 , Reply# 36   7/2/2017 at 16:21 (295 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
It's the volume of air to gas ratio which matters.

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We all know this stuff can explode, its the necessary conditions for an explosion.

Post# 946378 , Reply# 37   7/2/2017 at 16:43 (295 days old) by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        
Hotpoint in the UK...

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"I've seen enough of their trash in the UK to believe they'd make such a mistake" says Panthera...

Really ? what you would have seen is Indesit products with the Hotpoint name on them, alas Hotpoint UK had their main refrigeration plant in Peterborough their head office, and made quality refrigeration products that withstood the test of time since the 50`s and are still going strong today.

The cost cutting does see new models now consisting of a side skin of metal with foam insulation and a polycard backpanel, thats on most cheaper refrigeration products, ya get what ya pay for, Miele / Liebherr on the other hand are a different kettle of fish .

Whirlpool must rue the day they ever entered into world domination of the appliance market with the takeover of Indesit, BUT even we must be patient and see what the outcome of the affected model is, ie was it a faulty appliance ( as this model was not on a recall programme) or did other aspects conspire ?

Whatever it is its a horrendous situation for all those dear people affected, don't even ask about the underfunding of social housing stock since the Thatcher years in this country!!

Post# 946384 , Reply# 38   7/2/2017 at 17:36 (295 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Exploding Refrigerators

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It would be very easy to have an explosive mixture of gas and air behind the evaporator cover when a ref goes into defrost and the fan is off with just a few ounces of R-600, the folks at Bosch did not try very hard.

Even with refrigerants that are not flammable like R-12, R-22 or R-134A you can have quite a fire when a terminal blows out of the compressor and a spark occurs as the terminal is torn loose from a live wire and the refrigerant is blowing oil out, I have seen it happen.

Post# 946407 , Reply# 39   7/2/2017 at 19:25 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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"Transformers DO explode. The industry term is 'fault'. Consists of high to very high potentials escaping from where they belong, exceeding the trip rating of the switchgear feeding them, accompanied by an immense amount of heat inside a sealed container, breaching said container. In other words, exploding."

Of course they explode, and yes an uncleared fault within a transformer or uncleared external short circuit on the secondary of a transformer can cause one to explode from the oil boiling over and building pressure within the tank. Pole mounted units are the most susceptible because they are only protected by fuses and not sophisticated differential protection. That however does not make downed wires, arcing and sparking, an exploding transformer.

"I've seen it happen. So have a crew of hapless firemen helplessly watching it burn for hours. As though prescient, I awoke at 3AM just in time to hear a huge EXPLOSION a mile away, and the LED clock went dark. Only one thing within a mile of my house to explode. I drove to the substation and sure enough, 138kV transformer with 30-foot flames where the top used to be."

I never said transformers do not explode. In fact I've personally seen a few, from a distance go up in a fireball. Nowhere did I say they were in capable of doing that, but people are insinuating I did.

"Here's where you're right: Media covering a tornado, video of purple plasma on the horizon, voiceover says "transformer exploding". It's typically not. The industry calls that "faulting" too. And there is a rapid expansion of heated gas (atmosphere) making a sound akin to thunder but with a 120Hz component thrown in."

But why call it a transformer explosion when its not? Where would a doctor go calling a blocked artery an aneurysm? Or calling asthma, diabetes? Sure all of them are medical conditions, but their is a clear distinction.

"Here's why they say that: They have to call it something their audience (of dummies) can relate to and they settled on 'transf explod'g'."

The audience wouldn't be dummies if the media could call things for what they are. People understand "power lines arcing" just as well as an 'exploding electrical giget'

"Here's where you're also right: EVERY time I hear media reporting on something *I* know in some depth, they misspeak to some extent and sometimes a great extent. But to the bulk audience, the distinction is immaterial as it wouldn't understand the 'correct' terminology anyway, much less the physics. Worse, from media's perspective, the audience would actually tune away because their ignorance was being exposed. And if there's anything stupid people don't like it's their stupidity exposed."

Its not just in depth stuff, its everything. People would not be stupid or afraid if the media did not create an artificial understanding of reality such that people would run away when given the true facts.

"Which ironically is the root cause of the stupidity plague. Media being caught in that loop. It wouldn't pay them to be dead on balls accurate. (It's an industry term. My Cousin Vinny.)"

Its safe to say even you think the media plays a role in this, correct?

But going back to the fridge, I'd like to see solid evidence by those reporting it that the fridge exploded.

Post# 946410 , Reply# 40   7/2/2017 at 19:45 (295 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Mike (UK)

panthera's profile picture

I'm quite well aware who currently builds them and it will be difficult for you to convince anyone right at the moment that I'm wrong in my analysis of their product.

Post# 946411 , Reply# 41   7/2/2017 at 19:47 (295 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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I'd like to see proof, too. What does matter is that a lot of people died because of a badly built refrigerator. If and why it exploded are questions to be answered.

Post# 946412 , Reply# 42   7/2/2017 at 19:48 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
Firdiges with flammable refrigerant

chetlaham's profile picture
"chetlaham asked: "How does an refrigerator "explode"?"

Some refrigerators in other parts of the world use refrigerant R-600a which is actually isobutene. This is not an example of "fake news", it's an example of something you're not aware of."

And while you are correct that 600a refrigerators exist, from that fact how can we say this particular fridge had R600a? All those outlets calling it an explosion have nothing to back it up, which is conflicting other outlets saying it was just that the fridge caught fire.

"I have personally seen electrical transformers explode.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO kenwashesmonday's LINK"

Again lol, Show me where I said its impossible for a transformer to explode. No offense to anyone, but this is kind of proving my point about how media influences thinking.

Post# 946414 , Reply# 43   7/2/2017 at 19:53 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

chetlaham's profile picture

"I'd like to see proof, too. What does matter is that a lot of people died because of a badly built refrigerator. If and why it exploded are questions to be answered."

I agree. Without documented proof and/or an official investigation the reporting is speculation. But IMO, its not just the fridge to blame. The fire should not have spread like that, and while its just siting news reports, I hear that the cladding on the building is also to blame. Its very tragic and I hope answers come soon.

Panthera, by chance do you know anything about these Hotpoints?

Post# 946425 , Reply# 44   7/2/2017 at 20:32 (295 days old) by brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

Its not just small European fridges that are now R600A, our new Full size F&P is R600A, I wasn't impressed when it arrived and I discovered they're replaced their tried and true Condenser that was moulded into the outer walls of the fridge with one that looks like a small radiator and has a computer fan attached. The old fridge required no condenser cleaning because it was all built into the smooth walls of the fridge, the new one will need to be pulled and cleaned every 6 months.

We'll see how it lasts, its already had one service call for the electronics which is disappointing considering the one it replaced is 15years old and still working. One thing the repair man did enlighten me to, is that the 2 door Top and bottom freezers are still using the same plant that was used when they were built in Australia. They packed the factory up and moved it all to Thailand, so the interior liners, door hinges etc are all still made on the same design that they have been for the last 30 years. Its the Haier influence that is making the Refrigerant system more "Efficient"

Air-conditioning is also R600A here now as well, the 8kw unit we had installed last year is R600A, its use is very widespread.

What is the modern refrigerant standard in the US if its not R600A?


Post# 946430 , Reply# 45   7/2/2017 at 21:02 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
US standard

chetlaham's profile picture
In the USA it used to be R12, but went to R134a for refrigerators about 30 years ago. AC units just recently went from R22 to R410a. Commercial freezers used to be R502A and went to R404A and R507A, though the commercial systems is going by memory only so I could have forgotten the correct numbers for the new refrigerants. And while I don't know about 2017, I remember in the 2000s there were food plants around me that used ammonia as a refrigerant.

Post# 946431 , Reply# 46   7/2/2017 at 21:03 (295 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture

US refs are still using R134A, most window and central A/C systems are using R401.


Outer shell condensers are not as efficient especially if you want to install your ref in a tight spot, with a shell condenser heating the outside of the appliance is like making the ref operate in a 100F+ room all the time. It is better to get the heat away from the appliance and now that condenser fan motors often draw less than 5 watts it is far more efficient to use a fan. A condenser coil on the back of a ref should not need cleaning more than every  5 years or more unless you have a very dusty house, light dust accumulation has almost no effect on the operation of home refs.


The ref in the London fire did not kill 80 people, the cladding on the building and lack of good exits and lack of sprinkler systems throughout the building were the main cause of the excessive loss of life.


Strong fire codes should be the norm for any country, where I live sprinkler systems have been required in all new homes [ even single family ] apartments and businesses built since 1990

Post# 946440 , Reply# 47   7/2/2017 at 21:54 (295 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

wayupnorth's profile picture
Sprinklers are required in all new homes in ME. Pex run to sprinklers are alot cheaper than rebuilding your home when a sprinkler could have saved it. My neighbor, the Fire Chief, swears by them but to do it in one of the oldest housing stock in this country, tearing ceilings out just wont work financially. Problem is around here, there are so many volunteer fire departments that nobody wants to dedicate the time to volunteer any more.

Post# 946445 , Reply# 48   7/2/2017 at 22:18 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
Swearing by them

chetlaham's profile picture
Your neighbor would be right. I truly believe fire sprinklers should be in all new homes, but sadly its often amended out of the building codes at the local level. Sprinklers speak for themselves, and contrary to what people say the cost is next to nothing in a new home. You don't need any special plumbing, in most districts you can tap right off the potable water supply if you really wanted to.

Post# 946446 , Reply# 49   7/2/2017 at 22:22 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
Sprinklers don't need special plumbing

chetlaham's profile picture
Here is a sheet backing up my above claim:

Post# 946450 , Reply# 50   7/2/2017 at 23:53 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
AC unit refrigerant

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@Combo, isn't it R410a for all new units while R401a is simply a retrofit for old R-12 systems?

Just wondering, its been years since I touched refrigeration so I'm sure my memory may not be exact.

Post# 946452 , Reply# 51   7/3/2017 at 00:27 (295 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Some familiarity

panthera's profile picture

I was able to visit friends and relations in Scotland and Ireland frequently until 2014. Many have Hotpoint appliances - they're familiar, they have pleasing designs and, like the old Sears here in the US, there's still a sense of value.

Just, from what I've seen, the most played out Hotpoint from the 1970s with just a bit of restoration is going to be a safer, better working appliance than anything put out under that name after 2005.


Post# 946454 , Reply# 52   7/3/2017 at 01:06 (295 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I have also seen "exploding" transformers as well-and exploding oil filled capacitors.When I lived in Florida-during a hurricane a palm frond landed on top of a pole transformer------BOOM!!!Next day when going by that pole-ruptured transformer case still on the pole-lid,core-coil assembly on the ground.Oil caps--in various broadcast transmitters I have worked on-when they fulat-short inside arcing,gas builkdup and BOOM-cap goes oil everywhere inside the Tx and the film paper core bits everywhere inside,too.Glad there is a metal cabinet between me and the caps!There is a 3ph 115Kv-4160V 10MVA substation feeding our transmitter plant where I am at now--3 large oil filled transformers-each containing a few thousand gallons of oil each-hope there is no faults-Had one while on-a 4160V insulator blew-substation system went to protection-lockout mode-primary 115Kv switches open-had to call the Progress Energy folks to replace the insulator and rest their fault system.The 115Kv switches can open very quickly.Didn't see them open-would have liked to have seen that!!!!Even dry transformers can "explode" under certain conditions-hence keeping them in a metal case-not only to keep folks and animals from live parts-but to contain the debris if the transformer goes -"faults"HV primaries usually rupture in these-from a lightening hit,fault in the insulation and so on.Examined a 1Mva 13Kv-480V 3Ph dry transformer that served a shopping mall-heard it get hit by lightening-biggest BOOM and flash I ever saw!The transformer had two large fist sized holes blown in its HV primaries-and a good dent on the transformer case!-from the inside!

Post# 946458 , Reply# 53   7/3/2017 at 02:06 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
115kv speed

chetlaham's profile picture
Oh yes! Newer systems with SF6 breakers and communicating protection relays (ie line differential; permissive over reaching transfer trip; DUTT; ect; ect) can clear in in as little a 4 to 5 cycles in a 60Hz (60 cycle) system.

But with that said yes I am well aware transformers explode and it has been witnessed by many. But if one was to type "transformer explosion" in YouTube 9 out 10 videos that pop up are just lines shorting out. Case in point:

Arcing fuse cutout:

Post# 946460 , Reply# 54   7/3/2017 at 02:21 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

chetlaham's profile picture
And only because I can't edit (my apologies). To clarify #1 at 8:00 in the first video is an actual transformer explosion. Most likely a fault in the transformer causing the oil to heat up, build pressure and burst out in flames.

Post# 946461 , Reply# 55   7/3/2017 at 02:30 (295 days old) by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        
Fridge Fire

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"The Hotpoint FF175BP was manufactured between March 2006 and July 2009 and has not previously been recalled. Tests will be carried out to establish whether a product recall is necessary, the government said.

Hotpoint said a total of 64,000 units were made over the three years, adding that the number of appliances in use today would be lower because of normal product obsolescence."

The model was made by Indesit under the Hotpoint brand; both are part of Whirlpool, whose UK head office is in Peterborough.A spokeswoman for the trading standards arm of Peterborough city council said it had contacted Whirlpool. “We have been in touch with the company and asked questions but the government is taking the lead on this and would be in charge of any product recall decision,” she said"

CLICK HERE TO GO TO chestermikeuk's LINK

Post# 946462 , Reply# 56   7/3/2017 at 02:38 (295 days old) by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        
Hotpoint Notice

chestermikeuk's profile picture
As soon as the brand was identified by fire officials Whirlpool under the Hotpoint brand issued a safety notice asap, and now we await the findings of a judicial inquiry / review / inquest into what really happened.

A sad demise of a great name in the world of appliances, and the ensuing tragedy for all those people involved, our thoughts and prayers are with them all !!

CLICK HERE TO GO TO chestermikeuk's LINK

This post was last edited 07/03/2017 at 03:21
Post# 946491 , Reply# 57   7/3/2017 at 06:28 (295 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

SF6 switch/breaker-the ones we have at the transmitter they are used to switch between main and aux 4160V feeders for each transmitter.Switches built by GW electric.They caution you to NEVER operate their SF6 switch when its under load.There is a key interlock system for these switches before you can operate them-You have to shut the transmitter being switched completely down.Then open its 4160V circuit breaker-then take the key from the breaker to unlock the SF6 switch.Then you operate the SF6 switch to change the line.Next take the breaker key from the switch and reset the transmitter breaker.The new Powell 4160V medium voltage breakers use vacuum contact bottles.Relays are solid state-These can trip[ under load up to 1200A.Main generator -powerline breakers are 1600A-vacuum contacts.SF6 breakers can explode when operated under load.They can be used as disconnects and or transfer switches when operated NO LOAD.Oh yes-guess this was on the burning apartment house and exploding fridges.And on those videos we do witness the "arc welder from Hell"!!!Power co linemen say-"we stay away from their fires!"-Firemen say-"We stay away from their wires!"Watched a video of a substation near Miami Fla that faulted-its transformer exploded-burning-finally a fuse cutout killed the power-then the power cfo killed power upstream of it so the firemen could put the fire out.The station was a total loss.Had to be replaced.Was frightening to watch!-that could happen here under the right circumstances.The 115Kv line we are on is shared by other major customers-Weyerhauser in New Bern and DuPont in Kinston.

Post# 946493 , Reply# 58   7/3/2017 at 07:16 (295 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
A lot of the argument here

panthera's profile picture

Is unnecessary.

First, for those of us working in the fields of or training/education in the natural sciences (the real sciences as opposed to the social sciences) the term 'explosion' simply means:

"an expansion in which energy is transmitted outward as a shock wave". 


Now that's really putting it simply but it certainly encompasses what I've seen left over after hooking up an electrolytic capacitor the wrong way. So, yeah - let's stop splitting hairs.

Post# 946506 , Reply# 59   7/3/2017 at 09:00 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
SF6 Circuit breakers

chetlaham's profile picture
I hear you, switches are a different beast used only for isolation under no load. Fortunately the circuit breakers used in utility substations can safely interrupt high levels of fault current (see typical ratings here):

Post# 946611 , Reply# 60   7/4/2017 at 00:52 (294 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

TheSF6 breakers use a blast of SF6 gas while the circuit is being interrupted-so there is the difference rather than contacts in a pressurized SF6 gas filled container as in the isolation switches.One of our transmitters had a sealed SF6 breaker-this has been replaced with a vacuum contact one.We used to have to pressurize it occasionally from a small tank of SF6 gas.Now Progress Energy does this with our isolation switches.Remember a UHF TV station that pressurized their UHF antenna with SF6 gas.The antenna was handling 240Kw of transmitter power.9" nitrogen filled transmission line on the tower.5 Klystron transmitter-oh those old analog days!That has been long replaced-was quite something in 1972 when that system was installed by Harris.

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