Can Fridges Explode?

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A fridge is one of those home appliances that work hard, mainly because it works almost non-stop throughout its lifetime. That may lead you to wonder if a fridge can explode, maybe from overworking. And if it does, how bad can the explosion be, and will you have enough time to react?

Fridges can explode. Fortunately, it’s rare for fridges to explode. Compared to other home appliances, fridges are more dangerous when they explode because the explosions can occur without warning, giving you very little time to react.

When a fridge explodes, it can cause severe damage to your house, injure your family and potentially cause damage to neighboring homes. Keep reading.

Why Do Fridges Explode?

While fridge explosions are rare, there are a number of reasons as to why they could happen. The first, and perhaps the most common, is a failure in the compressor. When the compressor overheats, gas gets trapped inside it and then explodes. 

The compressor is found at the back of the fridge and contains a pump and motor. Its function is to push a gas refrigerant through its coil, which cools down and becomes liquid. The liquid absorbs the heat in the fridge and freezer, keeping everything inside cold. 

The problem is that the back of the fridge can get extremely hot while the gas moves through the compressor causing the compressor’s coil to contract. Then the highly flammable gas gets trapped in the coil, pressure builds up, and eventually explodes when this happens. 

How To Prevent Fridges Exploding

There are a number of preventative measures you can make to minimize the likelihood of your fridge exploding. The first is to wash the coils regularly and ensure they’re not clogged. Newer fridge models often come fitted with a heat shield at the back to prevent explosions and fires, along with other safety measures.

Older and cheaper fridges usually have a plastic backing that’s highly flammable. If caught alight, the fires spread quickly and release toxic gas. Therefore, investing in a high-quality fridge is advisable. 

If you’re not keen on buying a new fridge, follow these steps to prevent your fridge from exploding.

Clean the Coils

It’s best to clean the compressor coils at least every six months. All you need is a flexible appliance cleaning brush and a narrow vacuum hose attachment. Before getting to work, unplug the fridge and locate the coils, typically found in the front behind a kick plate or base grille or at the back of the fridge. 

Next, you’re going to vacuum the in and around the coils. Work carefully and move the hose in the direction of the coils so that you don’t damage them. The vacuum cleaner won’t get to the tiny crevices and corners, so use a flexible appliance brush to clean these areas that are difficult to reach. Once it’s all cleaned, you can plug the fridge back in.

Pay Attention to the Noises That Come From Your Fridge

Another thing you need to do to avoid unpleasant surprises is to listen to the sounds your fridge makes. The compressor in a fridge that’s in good working order will emit a steady, high-frequency humming sound. If you hear a choppy sound or no sound at all coming from your fridge, it could signal that the coils are clogged. 

Defrost Your Fridge

If you don’t defrost your fridge, frost will build up in it. The frost affects the functionality and efficiency of the fridge and, over time, will require more energy to work. It creates more heat, and more heat can lead to an explosion. 

Ensure There’s Space Behind the Fridge

When positioning your fridge against the wall, be sure to leave some space between the wall and the fridge. Leaving some space allows the air to circulate and creates a cooler environment which means the coils are less likely to overheat. 

Keep Your Family Safe and Call for Help

A fridge explosion will likely result in a fire; as such, you’ll want to ensure your pets and family are out of the house as soon as possible. You’ll also want to phone the fire department, who’s better equipped to deal with this disaster. 

The gasses emitted from a fridge on fire are toxic, so inhaling these gasses can result in severe illness. It’s recommended that anyone exposed to the gas goes to the ER.

Watch Out for Anything That Could Cause Fire to Your Fridge 

The compressor isn’t the only component to be concerned about. Several other factors can cause your fridge to catch fire. 

Plastic Components Are Vulnerable to High Heat

Plastic components like drip trays and wall backing materials are highly flammable, and fire will develop quickly if these plastics catch fire. Additionally, fridges contain large amounts of foam insulation that’s highly flammable. These foam insulations are usually covered with a thin plastic covering that can also easily catch fire. 

An Overheated Fridge Light Bulb Can Melt the Plastic Surface

Another potential fire risk is the light bulb in the fridge. The light bulb is often mounted on a plastic surface. If the light stays on, overheats, and melts the plastic, the wiring could be damaged or catch on fire.

Another risk involving the lightbulb is that if the wire conductor gauge is short, it can overheat, leading to a fire. 

Failure of the Mechanical Defrost Switch Can Lead to a Fire

Sometimes, water gets into the case of the defrost switch, which can form a conductive path between the defrost switch contacts and become hot. The heat could lead to flammable gases being released that collect in the case and can cause a fire.

A Fluctuation in the Voltage Can Cause a Spark That Leads to a Fire

A common cause of fridges catching on fire is an irregular power supply, especially if the voltage increases above its threshold value. When this happens, a spark occurs that grows into a fire. That said, you want to watch out for any fluctuation in the voltage.

Any Issue With the Refrigerants Can Potentially Be a Fire Hazard

Several issues can occur with refrigerants that can cause a fire. The flammable refrigerant gas could escape if the seal becomes damaged due to wear and tear.

Also, if there’s a fault in the refrigerant circuit, gas can leak. It only takes a tiny spark to ignite a fire that spreads quickly in both cases.