GE Fridge Ice Maker FIRE!

MichelleDTFebruary 6, 2012

As a caution to others with GE fridges...our side by side refrigerator ice make caught fire. Luckily we were home and smelled the burning plastic and put it out before there was any damage to our home. I have sent the information to GE and I certainly hope I get a response. From a quick google search, this does not look like an isolated incident with GE.

M

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NYC-Guy

That's awful. Glad everyone is alright. Which model was it and how long have you had it?
Let us know if GE responds.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 11:48PM
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MichelleDT

Model TFX25CR - it is older and while I didn't expect it to last forever I certainly didn't expect it to catch on fire. In researching it I see several Profile refrigerators with the same issue.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:01AM
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chac_mool

Michelle, You may want to let the CPSC know about this (with the photos) -- I didn't find anything there, quickly searching your model #.

Here is a link that might be useful: US Consumer Product Safety Commission

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 2:41AM
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mojavean

Second the CPSC report, Michelle. Very happy you guys caught that thing and put it out before disaster took your home.

I would make sure CPSC gets a copy of the pics and the model/serial/year of the unit.

Close one, and scary. Good fast thinking on the part of you and Mr. Mister,

If it would not be too much trouble, would you mind following up on this thread to let us know how GE handles this? I am curious as to whether they will buy the fridge from you for lab testing/post mortem or just tell you to throw it away. How they behave right now is critically important, in my estimation.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:25AM
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MichelleDT

Thanks for the link to CPSC. I just submitted the report with pictures. I also posted pics on the GE Facebook page, emailed GE at eresponse@ge.com and entered the information directly on GE's customer support webpage. I will keep everyone posted.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:26AM
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MichelleDT

Response from Facebook post:

"Thank you for buying a GE appliance and we're sorry to hear about the ice maker in your fridge! Please email our team at eResponse@ge.com with your appliance details and we'll make sure to help you resolve this issue as soon as we can.

Thank you again for taking the time to write us and have a great day."

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:09AM
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billy_g

Wow, I'm so glad you're OK. Who would have thought an icemaker would catch fire?

FYI, I think all GE appliances are made by others. Long ago I saw Samsung microwaves rolling off a production line in Korea -- in GE boxes. GE does provide specs and requirements to their suppliers. No big surprises here.

I'm glad you're reporting it to the CPSC.

Billy

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:12PM
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MichelleDT

GE has responded and is sending a tech to look at the fridge. If it is repairable, they will do so at their expense. If not, then they will discuss next steps.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:46PM
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deeageaux

GE stil makes many of their own appliances.
Top freezer fridges,Profile,Cafe,and Monogram wall ovens, Monogram ranges,Monogram/Profile built-in fridges etc etc

Neither Whirlpool nor GE nor any American appliance company makes their own microwaves.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 5:26PM
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mojavean

Looking at the CPSC site and reading the relavent statutes (Title 16: Commercial Practices PART 1115�SUBSTANTIAL PRODUCT HAZARD REPORTS
Subpart A�General Interpretation)
it looks like GE must self-report the incident to CPSC. Of course, this theory depends upon whether one interprets a fire and potential inferno in your refrigerator to pose a serious threat to life.

It seems to me it does, but what do I know?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 12:01PM
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MichelleDT

Mojavean,

It certainly could have posed a serious threat - had we not been home, the home could have burned down. Had we been home and asleep, who knows. The fridge is in our pantry off of the garage, a far distance from the upper level master bed. I also sent the information to Consumer Reports - they have a separate email to report appliance fires. It was listed in the 2012 article on appliance fires - a good article BTW.

The tech will be here Friday. We shall see. To be honest, even if they repair it, I am not comfortable using it again.

M

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 12:20PM
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maire_cate

Thanks for posting this and I'll look for an update after the tech examines it. I wouldn't feel comfortable using it after their repair either.

We have a GE Profile side by side at our vacation place - I'll have to double check the model. What year is your refrigerator?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 12:40PM
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dodge59

Looks like it would be a good idea to disconnect the ice maker, in a home where you not there much. Then hook it up when you are there.

I'm not sure who makes GE's ice maker, maybe them, but lots of fridges, including SZ use the ice maker made by whirlpool, so it would be interesting to see if there are any Whirlpool icemaker related fires, Ya thinks?

Gary

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 5:12PM
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maire_cate

dodge59 - We do turn the icemaker off when we leave but I winder if that alone would prevent a fire. I'll have to see what's involved in disconnecting it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 3:47PM
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MichelleDT

In this case, the icemaker was not on. We don't use the icemaker in the pantry fridge. No water hook-up either. Tech to be here tomorrow between 8-12.

M

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 7:09PM
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maire_cate

I hope they give you a brand new refrigerator. My first GE Profile SxS failed to maintain a safe temperature in the refrigerator. It took 4 visits from the GE Tech and lots of paperwork but they finally agreed to replace it but it was still under warranty.
Good luck tomorrow.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 7:15PM
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quilly

bump -

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 1:28PM
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MichelleDT

The tech was here yesterday. His diagnosis was that the icemaker had been turned on (I guess we hit the down arm by accident) and was repeatedly cycling with no water in the line (it is not hooked up to water) and over heated. He said he has seen units burn out when not hooked up to water but never a fire.

He explained that a small heater is turned on to release the ice when ready and as there was no water or ice it overheated. There was no damage to other components or the case. He installed a new icemaker (current version with an on/off switch), cleaned the freezer and we are good to go.

They did this at no charge even though the fridge is 10 years old.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 1:48PM
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dadoes

I suppose that's possible but it sounds kinda suspicious to me. The heater is only on for the time it takes the arm to make a cycle, which doesn't take long, and I don't believe it's a particularly high-wattage heating element. During normal use, the arm (motor) triggers at the same time the element comes on. If the cubes haven't loosened sufficiently at the point the arm contacts them, the arm stalls pressing on the cubes until they melt enough to loosen then the arm moves on with the scooping. Once the harvest cycle is complete, the heater (of course) turns off and harvest doesn't (shouldn't) run again until the mold reaches freezing temperature. If turned "on" with no water connected to the unit, it should zoom through the harvest cycle without pause, then not again until the mold gets rechilled.

More likely something just went wrong with the 10-years-old unit.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 3:32PM
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chac_mool

A guess: Maybe the arm was taped or otherwise blocked from swinging through its cycle, so it stalled with the heater on until fire ignited.

Or maybe something just went wrong, as Dadoes suggests.

Glad Michelle and others are all right. The article on appliance fires in the most recent issue of Consumer Reports is long, prescient, and scary -- worth reading. This fire issue is not limited to this happenstance.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 4:43PM
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mojavean

Either there is no overlimit on that element (what is commonly known as a thermal cutoff) or the one that is on there failed. Either way, what we have here is a consumer appliance that lit itself on fire and may well have killed people. And it is being "fixed" by wiping off charred interior panels and sticking on a new icemaker. Does the new icemaker have a thermal cutoff that will interrupt power to the icemaker if it happens to overtemp?

I wonder if GE self-reported like they are required to?

This whole thing is rather alarming to me. You don't start a fire in your customer's house and then just shine it on with a free service call and a shoe shine.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 5:52PM
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MichelleDT

Mojavean - How do I check to see if it has a thermal cut-off? I have no plans to use the ice maker again.

Thanks.

M

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 6:37PM
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dadoes

You can disconnect the ice maker and remove it if you aren't going to use it ... unless the refrigerator requires it be physically present, which is unlikely.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 7:07PM
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mojavean

I can't see any thermostatically-controlled heater element getting UL approval without some kind of overheat protection. Still, we are looking at pictures of a household appliance that suffered a thermal runaway and fire.

The alarming thing is that the same icemaker that set your appliance on fire is sitting in thousands of homes.

GE is responsible to determine whether your fire is something that could reoccur. In the absence of solid evidence to the contrary, I assume the worst.

It seems to me that a free icemaker is a superficial remedy to a serious problem. I would not plug the blasted thing back into my house for any reason. I would insist that GE provide me a complete explanation accounting for why their GD appliance almost set my house on fire and what they were planning to do to make sure it does not happen to anyone else.

I have no perfect answer for this, but until I had a thorough explanation for why that sucker went up in flames I would not be satisfied and would raise hell.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 12:13AM
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weissman

If it were me, I'd toss the fridge and buy a new one. Better safe than sorry.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 12:30AM
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beekeeperswife

One would think the engineers at GE should make sure this can't happen. Some sort of safety mechanism should be in place. But I guess they don't need to have a consumer tell them the obvious.

Glad no one was hurt or any other property damaged.

bee

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 1:40PM
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ailene54

A refrigerator fire is so frightening. This is an item we leave on all the time, and don't think of it going on fire. I am thankful you were home and that this fire wasn't worse.

Fifteen years ago I had a new maytag refigerator, the night it was delivered my husband and I were suppose to go for dancing lessons, my daughters were 12. One was being a pain in the ____ and refused to eat what I had prepared, so I was making her mac and cheese at the stove when I noticed black sparks coming from the back of the refrigerator. I told my husband to call 911, and get out of the house with the girls, I ran down to shut the electricity to the house, and then ran out too. We found out soon the wall paper had burned as did part of the wall. We were so lucky to be home. I was told by the firemen if I hadn't turned the electricty off we would have lost most of the house (if not all of it). Maytag came the next day and replaced the defective refrigerator, I refused to take the same model, and they were accomadating to the upgrade. I did not see any other problems with that model.
ilene

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 1:56PM
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