Exploding oven doors menace consumers in SWFL, elsewhere

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan
Published: Updated:

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Shattering or exploding tempered glass has frightened and caught consumers off guard for years. Now, a nonprofit group is asking the government to recall a household appliance because of its high rate of shattering incidents.

Hundreds of people around the country have reported that the glass on their Kenmore oven door shattered or exploded.

Port Charlotte resident Liz Low recalled the evening that glass in her oven door mysteriously shattered, sending glass flying in all directions.

“I walked by the oven; it was not even on. I was getting ready to turn it on and it blew up. … We were like, in a state of shock.

“It actually propelled glass out. It exploded. It was like a bang, boom.”

Right after the incident, Low said her sister-in-law suggested she call WINK News Call for Action.

“She said there was a newscast on two weeks ago at least, and I said are you serious?”

Over the last few months, WINK News Call for Action reporter Lindsey Sablan has reported on tempered glass spontaneously exploding. In May WINK News told you about a glass table shattering. Last month, WINK News showed you a glass vessel sink that exploded.

When Low reached out to the maker of her Kenmore oven, she says Sears “tried to say it’s from pushing the oven door in when the shelf is out.”

“Now how many times have we done that and the thing has never exploded?”

Low also said she was told she would have to pay to replace the part.

“When it comes down to it, it’s $200 to replace. Now do I want to put $200 into an oven that is six years old or do I want to buy a new one?” she said. “And I can tell you, it won’t be Kenmore!”

Complaints roll in

Unlike the other cases highlighted by WINK News Call for Action, Low’s Kenmore oven incident does not seem to be isolated. Some people even reported injuries.

“This is something that is occurring at a very high rate. They clearly have a problem, and they need to step it up and deal with this and pay for the repairs,” said Sean Kane, founder and president of The Safety Institute.

Kane’s nonprofit group sent a letter last year to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission asking that the government investigate and recall the Kenmore 790 series ovens because of the issue with shattering glass.

“What really initiated our letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission was specifically the number of problems we found in the Kenmore 790s,” Kane said.

The doors of the ovens, in particular, elicited a rate of complaints that Kane said his group simply isn’t seeing with other ovens.

No recall yet

More than a year after the letter was sent, no recall has been issued. In a response to WINK News about the issue, a spokeswoman for the CPSC sent us this statement:

We take all incident involving shattering glass seriously. There are standards in place for consumer products that use glass which should lead to the glass breaking into nuggets and not shards, if the product shatters.  Consumers should report all safety-related incidents involving glass oven doors to CPSC by logging on to SaferProducts.gov. CPSC looks at all incidents reported to the agency.

When we talked to Doug Daubmann with local glass manufacturer D3 Glass in Fort Myers, he was very clear as to why tempered glass is used in products in the home.

“So you heat-strengthen the glass so in the event that it does break, it breaks in little particles,” he told us.

That means when the glass breaks you most likely will not receive a serious injury like a laceration. Daubmann told us that whenever an imperfection happens in tempered glass, however rare, it is impossible to detect and impossible to predict when or if it will shatter.

“It could happen at any time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Low is holding out hope that Sears will eventually pay for an error she believes the manufacturer should cover.

“I don’t think I really should have to pay for it,” she said.

WINK News reached out to Sears about the number of cases of consumers, including Low, reporting their glass oven doors shattering. They sent this statement:

The Kenmore brand places the highest priority on the safety of our products and those who use them. Ovens and ranges are specifically designed to withstand the high heat involved in cooking.

Within the first year of purchase, on a very small number of units, failure in the glass may be due to imperfections in the glass at installation and would be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.  Breakage beyond the first year following purchase is most likely due to damage caused to the glass during use. Damage to the glass can be caused by a number of things including using the door to push in an oven rack or an object striking the glass—both examples may cause a weakness and lead to failure over time.

As a precaution, and for the safety of our customers, the Kenmore brand (and the industry in general) uses safety glass that is specifically designed to “pebble” into small pieces with rounded edges to help prevent injury if the glass breaks. This is the latest technology and while the sound may startle a homeowner, Kenmore ovens and ranges comply with industry (UL) Safety Standards for Household Ranges.

Some additional information which may be helpful is the reference to the glass pulled from our owner’s manual, below.

Owner’s Manual, page 26:

Special Door Care Instructions – Most oven doors contain glass. Glass can break.

Read the following recommendations:

1. Do not close the oven door until all the oven racks are fully in place.

2. Do not hit the glass with pots, pans, or any other object.

3. Scratching, hitting, jarring or stressing the glass may weaken its structure causing an increased risk of breakage at a later time.”

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