Why Do Oven Doors Shatter and How to Prevent It?

Willie Mae Truesdale was startled by a loud bang from her kitchen. Upon checking, she discovered her glass oven door shattered on the ground. “It was shocking and you had to really see it to believe it,” she explained. “It was like what in the world. Glass shattered, glass was out here on the floor.”Furthermore, her oven was not in operation during that period, which added to the perplexity. What’s even more alarming is that Truesdale is not the sole homeowner to experience an exploding oven.

The Curious Case of Exploding Glass Oven Doors

Cheryl, a mom living in the suburbs, had a similar surprise during the COVID-19 lockdown. She attempted to make brownies, but they turned out to be wet in the center. Despite her oven being just three months old, she discovered that its temperature was off by approximately 25 degrees. Once the quarantine was over, she contacted a professional to repair her appliance. However, before doing so, she opted to run a self-cleaning cycle. As it neared completion, there was a sudden and loud explosion, causing the inner glass on the oven door to shatter.

Michelle Wheat experienced an oven door explosion, resulting in shattered glass throughout her kitchen. Similar to Truesdale, Wheat’s oven was not in use when the incident occurred. Thankfully, her four young children were unharmed by the flying glass. Like Cheryl’s Bosch oven, Wheat’s oven was from Frigidaire, but other brands have also been reported for having glass doors that explode. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received approximately 450 reports of this happening since 2019.

Sadly, the three women faced issues with the manufacturers following the incident. Truesdale’s oven was covered by warranty, but Frigidaire’s technician accused the family for the explosion despite the oven being turned off. As a result, she had to pay for a new door herself. Fortunately, Bosch replaced Cheryl’s oven after NBC contacted them for a statement.

In the meantime, Wheat’s oven was no longer covered by warranty. She had to pay $100 to the technician who informed her that the glass was broken and needed replacement. This additional expense cost the family $314. Frigidaire recommended Wheat to purchase an extended warranty to avoid such situations in the future. “This should not have happened,” said the frustrated mom of six. “That was the point I was trying to make to them.”

What Causes Oven Doors to Shatter?

“There are two scenarios of why oven glass can break spontaneously,” says Mark Meshulam of Chicago Window Expert. “There’s one family of oven glass that is soda lime glass, which is window glass, and it’s heated and cooled rapidly so that it becomes tempered. That’s one type of glass that is used in oven doors. Another type is borosilicate glass. It is more used in laboratory glassware or the old time Pyrex glass, and that one tolerates heat and cold very well. So, the shift to soda lime glass has brought about an increase in these types of breaks because it’s not as tolerant of the thermal cycles that the glass will go through.”

However, it is also probable that the explosions originate from a tiny defect in the glass called a nickel sulfide inclusion. “It’s only about a tenth of a millimeter in diameter. That little ball has some strange properties. ” Meshulam said, adding, “over time it’s fighting to get out. And sometimes the high heat event like oven cleaning event can bring about that finally that spontaneous failure that was in there.”

However, Meshulam assures individuals that the self-cleaning function of ovens is secure. “Most people will survive their whole lives using the self-cleaning feature and not really encounter this problem,” he said. He also thinks that tiny chips and defects are responsible for ovens exploding even when they are not in use. However, what is particularly scary about this potential is that the door can break much later after the initial harm happens.

Prevention Tips

Damage can occur to glass during production, shipping, or installation. Homeowners have no control over these situations, but there are ways to prevent damage at home. For example, certain habits like aggressive cleaning techniques and excessive physical impact can cause microscopic scratches or chips on the glass.

It’s better to use soft sponges and brushes instead of scouring tools. Also, avoid putting dishes on the oven door when taking food out. Don’t slam or kick the door shut. Make sure trays and racks are in the right place; don’t push them back with the door. Check that dishes in the oven don’t touch the door, and don’t hang wet towels on the handle. Exposing the glass to different temperatures can weaken it.

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