Yes, your fridge can catch fire and explode. Capacitator failure is a common cause, leakage of gas along with faulty power supply is a dangerous recipe for disaster. Our 15 safety tips during installation and usage will help in preventing disaster.
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How can a fridge catch fire?
A fridge can catch fire due to multiple reasons. Some of the common reasons are
- Fault in the power plug and power supply cord.
- Faulty electrical wiring.
- Faulty fan motor or compressor fan.
- Freezer Capacitor failure.
- Positive Temperature Coefficient Resistor (PTCR) failure.
- Damage leading to escape and ignition of refrigerant.
- Faulty Defrost timer fault.
Fridge catching fire and explosion is a very important topic and has been researched thoroughly. The reason is the fire from the fridge spreads rapidly and has a devastating effect.
Even research paper has been published showing the reasons for and effects of the fire.
In a research IFIC Forensics, The International Fire Investigation and Consultants Limited, Forensic says that the most common reason for fire from the fridge is the capacitor Failure.
The polypropylene capacitor is located at the base of the fridge freezer. It starts the motor on the compressing system. Which intern enables refrigeration through the appliance’s cooling system.
The capacitor can fail due to the following:
- Any age-related wear and tear,
- improper installation
- incorrect connections
- sub-standard materials and manufacturing processes.
Even fire from the faulty electrical wiring or the PTCR can cause a fire to the capacitor.
The PTCR is responsible for initiating the freezers compressor motor. It is a small disc-shaped component. It is located between two spring plates. This is manufactured in such a way that they can withstand high temperatures.
But foreign particles, or faulty particles or wear and tear will lead to an increase the temperature. This temperature will ignite the plastic casing around the PTCR.
Isobutane (R600a) is a highly flammable refrigerant. If it escapes or leaks it will immediately catch fire and will result in a massive explosion.
The R 600a has a global warming potential of 3 and ozone depletion potential 0. You can understand what that is by the name. So it is considered good in terms of not causing global warming. But it is highly flammable.
So, if it leaks and escapes. You open our windows as soon as possible. This will help in ventilation. Make sure that there is no electric spark or fire. And call the service center as soon as possible.
Faulty defrost timers
This will also lead to a fatal fire.
As you can understand that specific knowledge is required for handling the electrical circuits of the fridge. So, you should be let the specialist to handle those faults.
What can we do? We should be aware of what we have and what needs to be done. So the safety tips will help you in understanding it.
Fire and Explosions from the fridge in India.
Fire and Explosion of refrigerators are common in India also. They are also fatal. But they are not documented as they should be.
So, I searched some newspapers and will mention some cases.
A family of 3 people was killed in a suspected case of a fridge explosion. This incident happened in Chennai. The police suspected that the leakage of gas from the compressor and a high voltage current directly from the socket, in absence of a stabilizer, led to the explosion.
A family of four had a narrow escape from a fridge blast in Ranchi. Experts suggested that the compressor leakage and fluctuating voltage might have led to the explosion.
A family died in Chennai. Police Investigation suggested that the fridge exploded due to a possible short circuit.
These are some of the cases that were reported in the Media. I did not find any concrete data or research on this matter. If and when I find I will let you know.
But this shows that the fridge explosion is also common in India.
Now that we know it is common and we need to be safe. Let us know about the safety tips which will prevent fire and explosion.
Your refrigerator is an electrical appliance. A pretty expensive one. So it is always better to be careful. You will need to take some precautions. These precautions will definitely help.
For the ease of understanding, I will approach it in a step by step manner. What you need to do during installation and what you will need to keep in mind while using it.
1. Dedicated Socket.
Do you have an extension cord in your home? Those are great and useful stuff. But never use them to supply power to your refrigerator. Your refrigerator will run 24 x 7, for 365 days. So it is better to get a dedicated socket.
Also, the extension cord will have multiple sockets. You might sometimes use those sockets. If you do, you will increase the risk of causing a fire. Because using multiple devices from one power outlet increases the chances of fire.
So, get a dedicated socket for supplying power to your fridge.
2. Power plug position.
Be careful while positioning your power plug. If you are not careful, chances of your fridge catching fire will increase. Water can fall and slip into the plug. Even the power plug can be damaged. Both these will lead to catching fire.
Some precautions and carefulness are required.
- Do not allow the power plug to face downwards.
- Do not allow the power plug to get squeezed at the back of the fridge.
These small precautions will help you prevent catch fire.
3. Power plug condition.
Be careful while inserting the plug into the socket. You will see sometimes, some water and dust accumulate over the pins. You must clean them. Wipe them with a clean dry cloth. Once you clean them to fit it correctly and tightly into the socket.
These small steps will help you prevent fire. You won’t need to do it every day. But only when you are putting the pins of the plug into the socket. That means during installation. Or if and when you have unplugged like after coming back from vacation.
4. Power supply cord.
Now that the power plug is inside the socket, it is time for the cord. A damaged cord will lead to an accidental fire. You can also get some electric shock if you touch the cord if it is damaged.
Some preventions are required.
- Power supply cord should not be bend
- Power cord should not be pressed under heavy objects.
- Power cord length should not be extended or modified.
These 3 things regarding the power supply cord should be kept in mind. Now some of them you have to check in a periodic manner like say after 3 months. But if you take care of them during installations, you will be safe. But still, it is good practice to check the cord in a periodic manner. But always remember to switch off while checking the cord.
5. Condition of power supply
Lastly regarding power supply. Do check the condition of both the power plug and the cord. You will need to do it in a periodic manner. If at any given point you see, power supply cord and the plug has damaged, or has holes or is loosed. Then the time has come to call the service center.
Do not overlook it. It can have some very serious implications.
6. The place for the refrigerator
It is always an important decision. A refrigerator is a bid appliance. It will occupy space. It comes in different dimensions. Most of the modern Kitchens will have a dedicated place to place your fridge.
But some times that place is not enough. So, while placing the fridge in terms of safety you will need to be careful.
Choose a place where you will be sure, that the fridge is not exposed to water. Water can come from rain or spillage. Of course, your fridge will be protected from rain. Make sure that there are no windows nearby. Secondly. There should not be any washing basin or pipe near the refrigerator.
7. Earthing or grounding
Grounding and earthing is important. If you are leaving in a flat, you will have grounding. But still ask the builder, while taking the flat itself. If you have made your own house, then ask the engineer. If the grounding is broken these have the potential to cause a fire.
The grounding should be at least 30 inches below. To read more about grounding read this article in Wikipedia.
8. Placement of the fridge.
This is a small and simple thing. But do not ignore it. Always place and install the fridge on a flat surface. If the stands are not in the proper place, then make some changes. You must ensure that the fridge is standing on a flat surface and not tilting in any way.
This will prevent the refrigerator from falling down.
Once you have installed the fridge you will use it. That is why we all buy the fridge, to use it.
Now we have to be a bit careful even then. You have already seen the things are small and minute. Yes, minute changes make lots of difference. Ok, enough of being philosophical. I will be factual again.
Let us take a quick look at the safety tips during usage of the refrigerator.
9. What not to place above the refrigerator.
The refrigerator itself takes up lots of space. We also will have access to space above the refrigerator. I am not saying do not use that space. But use it wisely.
You should definitely avoid keeping some stuff above the refrigerator.
- Avoid keeping Heavy dangerous objects above the refrigerator.
- Avoid keeping electrical appliances above the refrigerator.
- Do not keep harmful chemicals above the refrigerator.
- Do not keep flammable substances above the refrigerator.
Apart from these things you can keep whatever you like. Make good use of the top of the refrigerator. I do know that this is broad. So to be more specific you can read this article on our website.
10. What not to put inside the refrigerator.
Now that we have seen what not to put above the refrigerator. Let us focus on what not to put inside the fridge.
Do not put or store the following substances in your refrigerator.
- LPG Gas
- Medicinal sprays.
- Sprays containing alcohol (ethanol, methanol, ethyl glycol etc.)
- Inflammable substances
- Glass bottles in a freezer.
Use your fridge for the right purposes. Avoid putting the above mentioned things inside your fried and be safe.
11. How not to clean the fridge.
Cleaning the fridge is mandatory. Keeping it clean and properly maintaining it will increase the longevity of the appliance.
But while doing so we need to be careful and avoid certain substances.
- Avoid cleaning the fridge with water. Especially at the back.
- Do not clean the fridge with benzene or a thinner.
- If you cover the fridge, then do not cover the exit hole of cold air.
But be sure to clean your fridge. Cleaning it will help you get rid of any bad smells, which is a common occurrence in a not well maintained fridge.
12. What not to do near the fridge
- You should not use combustible sprays near the fridge.
- You should not put or use heating devices near the fridge.
Two short points. Just remember them. If you want to put a microwave oven or stove near it, keep some distance between them.
At least keep a distance of 30 cms from the fridge to any other substance. If it is a heating device, then more the distance, better it will be.
13. What not to do.
These are a list of things you should not do. This will prevent any accident from happening.
- Don’t give children easy access to the fridge. Especially the naughty ones.
- Do not touch the power supply cord or plug with wet hands.
- Do not touch food containers inside the fridge with wet hands.
- Do not put your hands below/ bottom of the fridge.
14. When to call the service center.
I am sure that you do not take chances with your fridge. I generally contact an electrician for some minor problems which I cannot solve, in case of other electrical appliances. But not for the fridge.
If you find any fault in your fridge, call the service center. Just a phone call that is it.
In some cases, you just cannot avoid it. Some of those instances are.
- Power plug and supply cord damaged.
- In case, of gas leakage, you should open the windows to ventilate the air and immediately contact the service center and say urgently.
- In case of a strange smell, disconnect the fridge and immediately call the service center.
15. What to do
Go through the user manual thoroughly before using the fridge. And of course, read the articles on our website.
Place it safely on the selected position and use it safely.
Also if you are leaving for a long vacation, you should switch off and unplug the refrigerator. This will prevent any unwanted incident from happening. You can read our article to know more about this topic.
A fridge can catch fire and also can explode. The fire spreads fast and can be devastating. So go through the safety tips in this article. Also, read the user manual once you buy a fridge.
Follow the instructions and use the fridge safely.
Always remember “Safety first”.