Warning: Hazardous KA & GE Microwaves causing fires

elyashFebruary 24, 2013

The March 2013 Consumer Reports warns of self-starting Kitchen Aid and GE microwaves. If you are shopping for a new microwave or own one of these brands you should read the article. Below are two brief excerpts from the article.
The CPSC provided us with 70 reports about KitchenAid microwave ovens, and 41 of them detailed incidents in which the ovens apparently started by themselves or caught fire while not in use. Most of the cases occurred in 2009 and 2010; a few go back to 2002. Many of the other reports described glass doors shattering spontaneously.
The GE documents offer cause for concern, too. Of the more than 400 incident reports we reviewed, 82 involved self-ístarting or spontaneous ignition of microwave ovens. Model numbers varied, but 30 complaints listed the Spacemaker line of over-the-range microwave units. Other complaints included shattering glass doors and units that continued to run after the door was opened.

There were at least six reports of serious fire, including a 2008 home blaze in Hudson, Ohio, blamed on a GE Spacemaker microwave and causing $60,000 of property damage. According to the insurance companyâÂÂs official laboratory examination from that case, the fire was caused by an electrical failure or malfunction of the microwaveâÂÂs control panel. But the problem is not confined to those two brands. Several other manufacturersâ microwaves received consumer complaints on SaferProducts.gov for fire-related incidents.

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The area over a range, particularly when the air flow rate will be modest, is a tough environment for electronics. Any error in electronics built without adequate design margin will lead to a failure. In a device pulling more than a thousand watts into a small volume, the risk can become hazardous.

GE has a long history back to tube TVs of aggressively minimizing the cost of their electronics. My perception is a Pinto type of mentality wherein the cost of lawsuits is deemed modest relative to the savings in material costs and gains in sales due to the lower prices possible by cutting corners to the bone. Looked at Pinto-wise, there were only a few hundred fires out of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of units. Do you think the successors of Jack Welch are loosing any sleep over this?


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 12:18PM
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