Chef Bobby Nahra knows his way around a kitchen, especially his own.
That is why he still can’t believe what happened inside his home.
“The floor was all full of glass,” Nahra said.
After doing some digging on my own, it seems this is a problem affecting different brands and models of ovens. Chef Bobby had recently purchased a Thermador oven, but it didn’t appear to be fully heating up and never hit the 500-degree mark.
“It did make a loud noise, like someone hit glass with a baseball bat,” said the St. Clair Shores resident.
After a service, he was able to get the oven fully heated. That’s when the oven door shattered, sending glass everywhere.
More than 700 similar reports
Since we learned how this problem is affecting many different brands and consumers across the country, I contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to see what they could tell me about this problem.
The CPSC sent us this statement:
“From 2015 to 2018, CPSC received over 700 reports of oven doors shattering or ‘exploding.’ No severe injuries (beyond stitches) were reported. While CPSC has not issued recalls or warnings on shattering oven doors in recent years, we do take all incidents 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.”
Alicia Baker experienced the problem when her Whirlpool oven was in self-cleaning mode.
“After living here for four years I decided to try the self-cleaning mode and the next thing I know I hear a loud boom and my husband says the oven exploded,” she said.
The glass from her oven door was in pieces which stunned Baker.
“My initial response was what did I do wrong?” she said.
Unclear what exactly is the cause
There is no clear answer to what is causing this problem. We turned to Jason Haraldsen who is an associate professor of physics at the University of North Florida.
“People would immediately say, ‘This has to be happening because I’m heating it up,’ but if it was the heat, it would be happening more often,” said Haraldsen. “It would be a much more significant problem if it was just the heat, so then the question is what is the problem?”
Haraldsen has not tested any of these ovens. He said the glass in an oven is tempered glass which makes it stronger and able to handle more heat. However, according to Haraldsen, “it can be broken much easier if it gets a microfracture.”
“If it gets a crack in it, it will shatter,” he said. “We also like it because if it shatters it will literally shatter into a million pieces as opposed to the shards of glass you would see from a window or something like that.”
Harladson also explained what can happen if there is a microfracture and higher temperatures in your oven like the self-cleaning mode.
“Now all the molecules are getting really agitated by the heat and that can make the microfracture expand to a legitimate crack in the glass, and once that happens then the tempered glass just shatters,” he said.
The oven-making companies themselves are not saying much about the problem. I reached out to the makers of Thermador who said:
“BSH Home Appliances takes the safety of our customers very seriously. For this reason, our ovens are purposely designed using state of the art tempered (safety) glass.”
As for Whirlpool, the company said:
“Glass breakage like what this consumer experienced is exceedingly rare.”
What you can do, or not do, to help avoid this
They also recommend to prevent the glass on oven doors from exploding, do not do the following;
- Do not close the oven door if the racks are not fully inserted.
- Do not set objects on the glass surface of the oven door.
- Do not hit glass surfaces with bakeware or other objects.
- Do not wipe down glass surfaces until the oven has completely cooled.
This does appear to be an industry-wide issue affecting many brands and price points. If you happen to notice any flaws in the glass, you should contact the manufacturer immediately and try to avoid using the oven until the problem is addressed.
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