Thread Number: 77931  /  Tag: Refrigerators
exploding refrigerator?
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Post# 1019566   12/31/2018 at 07:24 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Post# 1019567 , Reply# 1   12/31/2018 at 07:33 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Wasn't that horrible fire in London's Grenfell Towers a year and a half ago traced to an 'exploding' Hotpoint refrigerator? IIRC, the refrigerant was something flammable like butane.

Post# 1019571 , Reply# 2   12/31/2018 at 08:24 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Yes, I think I remember the Grinnell Tower fire was related to a fridge fire. That one spread to flammable exterior building cladding and turned into a horrible tragedy.

For years, the mini-fridges have been charged with and R600A (isobutane)for "environmental reasons." They have been sold overseas for a lot longer than they have been sold in USA, due to our safety standards.

Now, the current generation has been so indoctrinated with environmental "teachings"; that they are willing to accept an appliance charged with hydrocarbon refrigerant. The mini fridges contain a very small charge, so that any leak would be less of a risk. However, recently, the larger fridges are also coming with hydrocarbon refrigerants. Look for the logo "natural refrigerant" and a green leaf icon.

Once enough fridges are out in the wild with this configuration; accidents will inevitably occur.

Post# 1019598 , Reply# 3   12/31/2018 at 13:26 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

I am glad that the TV station got the brand name in the headline. I don't understand what happened. I saw no sign of combustion. Did I miss it? They are saying they saw smoke, but I wonder if it was the dispersing refrigerant like from an overcharged system forming a cloud as it expanded at lower pressure.

Post# 1019601 , Reply# 4   12/31/2018 at 14:03 by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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I have seen an advertisement posted on my local CL warning about the danger of this.  I've never paid a lot of attention to the posting - not really sure what good the ad is other than to serve as a warning.  The photos included in the ad look similar to what's seen in this story.  If I see the ad again I will include a link to it.



Post# 1019611 , Reply# 5   12/31/2018 at 15:31 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Unbelievable, perhaps Freon might make a comeback if a few more cases of this happen. Throw away all reasonable safety for the ozone which wasn't supposed to be affected by R134a, anyway.

Post# 1019613 , Reply# 6   12/31/2018 at 15:47 by RP2813 (Too many people know the way)        

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So maybe the loud banging noise the fridge makes in those incessant Lowe's ads that run on HGTV isn't so ridiculous after all?

Post# 1019619 , Reply# 7   12/31/2018 at 16:35 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        
No way

First, Iím pretty sure Thats a r134 Unit. Second , if it was charged with r600 it would have perhaps 2-3 ounces tops. Butane is flammable, maybe it would push the doors open but definitely not explode like that.

I suspect there is more to the story.

Post# 1019624 , Reply# 8   12/31/2018 at 16:52 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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A few ounces is a lot when you consider its normal state is a gas, gasoline fumes, for example, need only a small amount to cause a massive explosion.

Post# 1019637 , Reply# 9   12/31/2018 at 19:57 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

I agree but gasoline is explosive. ISO butane doesnít expand that fast. That box expanded with such force it pushed the granite counter 4-6Ē in to the steel frame of the cook top. I just canít believe that butane could produce that much energy. The freezer door was bent 90 degrees from hitting the counter top.

Further, we are all ASSUMING that this fridge is filled with r600 which I highly doubt.

Post# 1019640 , Reply# 10   12/31/2018 at 20:28 by joelippard (Hickory, NC)        

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I don't know, something just doesn't seem right about this after watching the news story.

Post# 1019644 , Reply# 11   12/31/2018 at 20:40 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

I wonder if the foam liner had anything to do with it.

Post# 1019647 , Reply# 12   12/31/2018 at 21:29 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

From the looks of it to my ignorant eyes, the rapid expansion came from inside the box, not from beneath where the compressor and other components that might provide a source of ignition are located. The evaporator in the food compartment is the low pressure side allowing the gas to boil and absorb heat so this is even stranger. I just hope that this is spoiling New Years for the Upton Family. It is a blessing that no one was in the kitchen when whatever happened happened. And, for there to be so much pressure that it blew out a window in an adjoining room, this was huge. If the problem is not found and resolved, it could stop builders from using Whirlpool appliances.

For such a violent refrigerator explosion, I don't see much flung food.

Post# 1019653 , Reply# 13   12/31/2018 at 22:28 by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

I saw this on the news tonight. Surely this would still use R-134 would it not? I know we bought a fridge in 2016 (not WP but Haier made) and it still uses it.

Post# 1019657 , Reply# 14   1/1/2019 at 00:13 by RP2813 (Too many people know the way)        

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Might there be a Walter White connection to this phenomenon?  Some new cold brew method?  Just saying.

Post# 1019664 , Reply# 15   1/1/2019 at 03:31 by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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Cooling off Batch of Crack ?

Not a Wardrobe Malfunction... A Whirlpool Malfunction.

Post# 1019678 , Reply# 16   1/1/2019 at 08:52 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Please don't tell me the fool put ether in the refrigerator. Our professor told us about someone taking out an entire science lab in college with that stunt.

Post# 1019680 , Reply# 17   1/1/2019 at 08:58 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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"Ether" that, or there had to be gasoline stored too close in proximity, even a propane tank, that it took one cycle of the compressor just initially kicking on, to set off...


I am not worried about this happening to my fridge, but as it is pushing a decade old (It's a 2009) what can I do to preserve its longevity given that I managed to neaten it up, but still it is filled to capacity...


I don't like to waste food, let alone an entire kitchen, not to mention even one life, that everyone should thank their lucky stars, something important like that had been spared...




-- Dave

Post# 1019681 , Reply# 18   1/1/2019 at 09:08 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
There's got to be more to the story...

Looking again at the picture, I tend to agree with Tomturbomatic's observation about the lack of flung food into the kitchen. It looks like this was someone's main kitchen fridge, which would have had food stored in it. This as opposed to a beverage fridge; where closed cans could have been thrown without leaving much evidence.

It makes me wonder, as said; what was being stored in it; or if the owner may have had a motive* to induce an incident such as this.

The general public will probably never know.

* By a motive, I mean scenario similar to a possible disagreement with the company who sold the refrigerator and not providing what the owner expects for warranty service. In other words, the owner wanted to tarnish the name of the manufacturer or distributor; while ensuring he received a replacement unit.

Post# 1019725 , Reply# 19   1/1/2019 at 15:08 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

If the kid was home alone, he might have been eating take out so there was not much fresh food in the box. I just hope that drugs are not involved in any way because his parents' insurance would not cover the damage and his ass would be grass.

Post# 1019798 , Reply# 20   1/2/2019 at 09:10 by paulg (My sweet home... Chicago)        
It's true

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For years I was performing fire-investigations on electronics and appliances and would attend various symposiums to keep my certifications.
During meetings, focus was drawn to the new phenomenon of exploding refrigerators. All of the case studies occurred outside of the USA. Bear in mind my data is over five years old, things have probably changed in the market.
Turquoisedude was spot-on in that a Hotpoint "brand" refrigerator was the culprit in the London fire. However I do not immediately recall if it was a "gas" explosion or rather the lack of a fire-barrier around the compressor and electronics that resulted in that fire. Some inexpensive refrigerators, (IIRC, those refrigerators typically sold outside of the USA) have no barrier between the compressor and supporting electronics to stop small fires from spreading to the insulation. I have a good-quality apartment fridge in the basement and recall getting nervous at the meeting about whether mine had a metal barrier around the compressor. (It did).
I have seen Fire Chiefs' Powerpoint presentations showing the damage to the kitchen after the doors got blown off a faulty refrigerator, and the damage was impressive.
Recently I went to a closeout-style store that sells inexpensive refrigerators. I was shocked, but not really shocked to see big warning labels on the interior of small-to medium sized compact refrigerators warning of explosive refrigerant.
Is this something we have to get used to? I'm not liking this. I've seen many an appliance / electronic fire and am naturally very attentive to product safety - whether mine or someone else's. My refrigerators and freezers are 10, 15, 20 and 65 years old respectively. Must I keep them running forever?? Me don't wanna buy a appliance with explosive refrigerant.
Regarding pressure:
In an unrelated fire-investigation, a mobile home owner had a can of aerosol under the kitchen sink. It rusted.
The propellant from ONE CAN migrated to the range which had a pilot light.
The resulting explosion blew the kitchen window over the adjacent mobile home.
A little pressure goes a long way it seems.

Post# 1019806 , Reply# 21   1/2/2019 at 10:28 by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

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Both 'save the whales' refrigerants (134 & 410) are chock full of fluorine.  Which doesn't eat ozone.  But what it DOES do is trap heat a whole lot worse than CO2.  That is the leverage against corporate and geo politics, why the euros are dabbling with explosive gases in refrigerators.


Yes fluorine is horrendously greenhouse.  But the volume used in refrigeration is a fart on a motorcycle compared to fluorine released by industrial processes.  Every refrigerant is somebody's child and the usual slanted science, fear marketing, lobbying are behind it.  Thus shall freon wars prosper going forward. 


What exploded?  Insufficient data for a conclusion.  If the user caused it, s/he would have to have been very knowledgeable and cagey to avoid detection.

Post# 1019808 , Reply# 22   1/2/2019 at 10:54 by paulg (My sweet home... Chicago)        
Stupid unrelated fire story...

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Since we're talking about fires, I'll add this strange story.
I had left my last wash-in and was flying home. Depending on the flight pattern, you can see my house from the sky.
As is the usual case with me, I found my house and said to myself, "Yay. All seems well at home!"
I land, go home. Being hungry I sit at the island and have some lunch and remember all the fun I had.
A few minutes later I hear sirens. I spend the next few hours on my lawn as they put out a fire in the house next door. It is rebuilt now but it took two years. Cause unknown to me. My house was undamaged.
However I did get a chance to teach my neighbor's children about what all the firemen were doing (in shorts and stupid house-slippers). I am glad to have gotten home just in time though.

Post# 1019813 , Reply# 23   1/2/2019 at 11:08 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

"I am glad to have gotten home just in time though."



Well, yes, because if you had arrived later, the street would have been blocked by emergency vehicles and you would have been inconvenienced.

Post# 1019828 , Reply# 24   1/2/2019 at 15:53 by paulg (My sweet home... Chicago)        
Inconvenienced.... Not really

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I'm always inconvenienced, and it doesn't bother me anymore.
Rather, I was glad to have gotten home early as I could work WITH the firemen to ensure my home was OK internally and externally rather than find them taking license to break my door down to check without my being there.
Cleaning glass out of my lawn WAS an inconvenience. I sure wish I had help with that task.

Post# 1019830 , Reply# 25   1/2/2019 at 15:56 by paulg (My sweet home... Chicago)        
Problem with my grammar.

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My grammar wasn't perfect in reply #22.
The firemen were not in shorts and stupid house slippers.
I was in shorts and stupid house slippers.

Post# 1019833 , Reply# 26   1/2/2019 at 16:30 by paulg (My sweet home... Chicago)        
Getting back on track....

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I did pull the last fifteen years or so of seminars I attended to get more data on that refrigerator fire.
Couldn't find a print of the presentation. I think it was added to the end of the original presentations and after the binders were printed.

Post# 1019888 , Reply# 27   1/2/2019 at 21:10 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

An aerosol can will have 12+ oz of gas and refrigerators have like 3oz. Iím betting on the foam liner which is cyclopentane. Look it up, itís nasty stuff. Or the kids blew it up and are trying to blame it on the fridge so they donít get in trouble

Post# 1019895 , Reply# 28   1/2/2019 at 21:40 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Exploding Refrigerators

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Hi Paul, Eugene. It is certainly possible for the amount of refrigerant in a refrigerator to create quite and explosion, all that has to happen with the new butane refrigerants is for a spark to blow a hole in the paper thin aluminum evaporator during defrost in a closed freezer compartment to have a bomb in your kitchen.


Current refs usually have 5 Oz of gas in them [ very few aerosol cans would have that much flammable gas in them ], I am apposed to using flammable refrigerants in refrigeration systems whether in homes cars or commercial buildings.


I know that we have sold several smaller FD refs that had R-600 flammable butane refrigerant in them, and WP told us that they were going to start doing the same.


John L.

Post# 1019933 , Reply# 29   1/3/2019 at 04:12 by iej (Ireland)        
R134a seems to be the most common legacy refrigerant in EU

I was just looking around various tech sheets and in the EU R134a seems to be the most common refrigerant used at present in existing fridges with R600a replacing it in new fridges, especially since 2015. Even R134a is potentially flammable but only at over 100įC and under pressure which would be a bit hard to achieve in normal circumstances.

The issue with the fire risk identified with some cheap fridges was about the use of plastic backing materials. The insulation foam was flammable and the back material on those fridges was plastic which seemed to pass a rudimentary glow wire test but did not perform well under flame.

The explanation is that the motor overheated and set an evaporator tray located on top of it on fire and that ignited the back of the fridge with a sustained flame, causing the foam to burn. It had nothing to do with the refrigerant gas.

There has been a serious cheapening or appliances due to people expecting to be able to buy major white goods at knock down ridiculous prices. So typically they're made in China or similae, using very cheap components and materials to get the base cost down.

I don't think the regulations kept pace with the fact that manufacturers might actually use those materials. They are catching up rapidly.

They being said, fridges have only been implicated in less than 8% of appliance fires and appliance fires aren't that common. Mostly they're caused by dryers, cooking or heating appliances.

Ozone depleting gasses are just not really an option at all. We canít function without an adequate ozone layer, but we do need to prioritise which greenhouse gas emissions we are chasing. Refrigerants in domestic fridges donít generally get discharged to the environment at all and recycling in most markets includes gas recovery.

The priority for reducing greenhouse gasses should focus on the areas that give maximum reduction and where theyíre replaceable - energy production, transportation, energy efficiency and reducing agricultural emissions etc

This post was last edited 01/03/2019 at 04:28
Post# 1019934 , Reply# 30   1/3/2019 at 04:32 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I expected it to be a Samsung to go with their phones and washers.

Post# 1019935 , Reply# 31   1/3/2019 at 04:35 by iej (Ireland)        

Also seems EN/IEC 60335-2-24 regulations apply in Europe to any fridge using R600a or similar. Those tightened fire and explosion ratings.

Post# 1021094 , Reply# 32   1/13/2019 at 23:31 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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I sent the link of the article to YouTuber JayKay18, a friend of mine. He made a video regarding it.


Post# 1021096 , Reply# 33   1/13/2019 at 23:49 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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If you haven't watched this video don't waste your time doing so, this guy is a total nut case, he brings no good information about this unfortunate incident out, it is just 12 minutes of swearing with no solutions offered, I would rater listen to DJT explain what happened.


John L.



Post# 1021097 , Reply# 34   1/14/2019 at 00:09 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Jay pointed out the fact that they are now using R600A in cars as well, a serious point regarding safety. There are no solutions to offer, this video was more meant to just cover the story to Jay's subscribers, many of whom are appliance aficionados and aren't here on AW to have caught it.  I just posted it here as it regarded the same subject. Jay is a friend of mine, I have talked to him for a while, and he is no nut case, he just uses strong words to express his opinions.



Post# 1021098 , Reply# 35   1/14/2019 at 00:10 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I can AGREE with the video shown-the "Greenie" stuff is NONESENSE!!!!!Did those folks know when there is a major volcanic eruption CFC's are produced in NATURE-and MORE than what is in our fridges and AC units.It used to be the refrigeration designers creed was to make refrigerants that were non toxic,flammable,or explosive.The fridge must of had a leak in its systems and a spark from an electrical contact could have ignited the leak.In a car--under the hood-besides the spark plug cables and ignition systems you have the engines exhaust manifold that can get hot enough to ignite a flammable AC refrigerant.Its time to BAN flammable,explosive,and toxic refrigerants-peoples lives and property are at stake.Ammonia refrigerants are com,ing back to vogue-there was an incident where an ammonia leak from a chicken processing plant killed several people at another plant nearby.

Post# 1021103 , Reply# 36   1/14/2019 at 00:46 by RP2813 (Too many people know the way)        
Maybe not a nut job . . .

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But a real piece of work. 


That joker clearly demonstrates that he doesn't know much about anything he's ranting over.  He just likes to hear himself talk.  I loved how after ten minutes, he states, "I don't know what to say," then continues to ramble for another two.  I was LOL over that line!


And he has subscribers?  SMH.

Post# 1021117 , Reply# 37   1/14/2019 at 07:48 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Maybe Not A Nut Job ?

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But A Real Piece Of Work,


Hi Ralph, Yes I think your review was a little better, I just would never waste another 10 minutes watching this guy to learn about nothing, LOL


When Jay starts railing against environmentalists it is obvious he is just a DF. Anyone who thinks the solutions to the worlds climate problems are just going back to the way things were done in the 1960s is simply not offering any real help.


John L.

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