Why Is My Dishwasher on Fire: How to Avoid Appliance Fires

Dishwasher fires can be caused by electrical issues, overheating components, grease buildup, overloading, lack of maintenance, or faulty models. Key preventive measures include regular cleaning, avoiding overloads, and proper electrical inspections. If a fire occurs, use a fire extinguisher and call for help. Be aware of recalls and ensure regular maintenance to avoid risks.

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Written by: Mohammad Waseem

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Is your dishwasher on fire? Yikes! A dishwasher fire isn’t exactly the after-dinner “spark” you were hoping for, right?

Whether it is smoke or actual flames, an electrical fire in your appliance can be super scary.

You might catch a funky smell before your dishwasher decides to play with fire.

From recalls to repairs, let us dive into what might have made your trusty appliance decide to become a pyromaniac. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Regular maintenance and proper use can prevent dishwasher fires.
  • Common causes include electrical issues, overheating components, and grease buildup.
  • Recalled models should be addressed immediately to avoid fire risks.
  • Never leave the dishwasher running unattended.

Why Is My Dishwasher on Fire?

Want to keep your dishwasher from catching fire? Here are some super simple tips to keep in mind:

  • Clean out that grease trap often! It is a must.
  • Don’t put stuff like wooden spoons, acrylic, or aluminium in the dishwasher.
  • And never ever turn on your dishwasher and leave the house. Don’t do it.

If your dishwasher does catch fire (let’s hope not!), here’s what to do: If it’s a small fire, you can try smothering it with a heavy blanket—just make sure the flames aren’t big enough to catch the blanket on fire.

For bigger fires, grab a Type C fire extinguisher and use that.

Electrical problems

Electrical issues like faulty wiring, worn power cords, or electrical shorts can cause sparks and even start a fire in your dishwasher.

Solution:

  • Check the Circuit Breaker: If your dishwasher keeps tripping the circuit breaker, it might be an overloaded circuit or a faulty breaker. It’s best to get an electrician to check the voltage levels and overall electrical system.
  • Inspect the Power Cord: Take a good look at the power cord. Any fraying, damage, or wear? If so, replacing that worn-out cord can help prevent electrical shorts and fires.
  • Look for Wiring Issues: Inside the dishwasher, faulty or damaged wiring can cause short circuits and sparks. You’ll want an electrician to inspect the internal wiring. They can spot and fix any problems to keep things safe.
  • Test Electrical Components: Grab a multimeter and check the continuity of heating elements, thermostats, and other electrical parts. If you find any faulty components, replacing them can prevent overheating and fire hazards.
  • Ensure Proper Grounding: Make sure your dishwasher is plugged into a properly grounded outlet. Avoid using extension cords or makeshift connections, as these can increase the fire risk.

Overheating components

A common cause of dishwasher fires is when parts overheat, especially the heating elements that dry your dishes. 

Solution:

Malfunctioning Thermostat: thermostat keeps the water temperature in check during the wash cycle. If it’s busted, the dishwasher can overheat. You’ll need a qualified tech to replace it.

Faulty Heating Element: This part heats the water and dries the dishes. If it malfunctions and gets too hot, it can start a fire.

Improper Water Temperature: Sometimes the water coming in is too hot, making the dishwasher overheat. Check your water heater settings and adjust the temperature to what’s right for your dishwasher.

Overloading the Dishwasher: Cramming in too many dishes can overwork the appliance and cause it to overheat. Avoid overloading it and stick to the manufacturer’s recommended capacity.

Lack of Maintenance: Not cleaning your dishwasher regularly can lead to grease and food buildup, which can catch fire when the heating elements get too hot.

Grease buildup

Do you know how grease buildup can be a fire hazard in your dishwasher? Yep, it’s a real thing. Grease and food bits can collect inside, especially on those heating elements used for drying dishes. And guess what? All that gunk can catch fire if it gets too hot.

To keep things safe and sound, here’s what you should do:

Clean your dishwasher regularly, at least once a month. This is super important to prevent that nasty buildup.

Remove the bottom dish rack and check the drain for any gunk or debris. Clear it out—don’t let it sit there!

Image source: reddit.com

Run a hot water cycle with a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the top rack. This helps eliminate grease and grime. It’s a lifesaver.

Sprinkle one cup of baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short, hot water cycle. This will freshen up the interior. Trust me, it works wonders.

Image source: thespruce.com

Use an Affresh dishwasher cleaning tablet every now and then. It helps keep that grease buildup in check.

Wipe down the bottom of the dishwasher door every so often to get rid of any grease that might accumulate there. Don’t forget this step!

Avoid overloading your dishwasher. When it’s too full, it has to work harder, which can lead to overheating. And overheating + grease = fire hazard.

Overloading

When they’re packed in tight, they can knock against each other during the wash cycle, and that can lead to chipping, cracking, or denting. Glassware and metal stuff are especially prone to getting damaged when overloaded.

Image source: absoluteappliancesrepair.com

Here’s some tips to help you out:

  1. Load your dishes according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and make sure to leave some space between items. This way, you’ll get proper water and air circulation.
  2. Don’t put too many pots, pans, and utensils in at once. It’s tempting, but try to resist!
  3. Make sure the spray arms can rotate freely without any obstructions.
  4. Use the right amount of dishwasher detergent, and avoid using too much.
  5. Run the dishwasher only when it’s fully loaded, but not overloaded.

Lack of maintenance

food scraps, grease, and mineral deposits can build up, turning your dishwasher into a potential fire hazard. If you don’t clean it regularly, these flammable materials can pile up.

Here’s a few simple steps for proper dishwasher maintenance:

  1. Clean the filter: Make sure to clean the dishwasher filter regularly. Get rid of any food bits that might be trapped there.
  2. Wipe it down: Don’t forget to wipe down the interior walls and racks. This helps get rid of grease and grime buildup.
  3. Run a cleaning cycle: Use a dishwasher cleaner or vinegar and run a cleaning cycle. This helps remove mineral deposits and any odours.
  4. Check the door gasket: Look at the door gasket for any cracks or damage. A damaged gasket can cause water leaks.
  5. Inspect the power cord: Check the power cord for any signs of wear or damage. A worn-out cord can lead to electrical problems.
  6. Clean the exterior: Use a stainless steel cleaner to keep the exterior looking good and to prevent corrosion.

Faulty or recalled models

Got some important news about Bosch, Thermador, Gaggenau, and Jenn-Air dishwashers. Nearly 663,000 of them in the U.S. and Canada have been recalled because of a problem with the power cord that can overheat and catch fire. This affects models made between January 2008 and January 2017.

The recall actually started in 2015 for 194,000 dishwashers and then expanded in 2017 to include another 469,000. BSH Home Appliances, the manufacturer, has gotten 51 reports of incidents, including 30 fires causing property damage. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.

If you have one of these dishwashers, stop using it immediately and get in touch with the manufacturer for a free repair. They’ll replace the power cord, and the whole fix should take less than an hour.

Which dishwashers have a fire risk recall?

there are Bosch, Thermador, Gaggenau, Kenmore, and Jenn-Air dishwashers – over 61,000 units are recalled. The problem is with the power cord, it can overheat and start a fire. 

Then we’ve got GE, GE Adora, GE Eterna, GE Profile, and Hotpoint dishwashers – about 1.3 million units recalled.

There’s an issue with the heating element, it can fail and cause a fire hazard. GE got 15 reports about this, including 7 fires, and 3 of those caused a lot of property damage.

According to Kiro7 report, Last but not least, Cove Appliance 24-inch built-in dishwashers (models DW2450 and DW2450WS) – 42,000 units are recalled because the heating elements can overheat and cause a fire. Cove got 5 reports of burning smells, flames, and smoking.

FAQs

Why do dishwashers catch fire?

Dishwashers can catch fire for several reasons, including faulty electronics, poor maintenance, or problems with the power cord. Keeping your appliance in top shape can significantly reduce these risks and help prevent dishwasher fires.

How do I know if my Kenmore dishwasher is at risk?

To check if your Kenmore dishwasher is at risk, you should register your dishwasher on the manufacturer’s website using the serial number. This way, you’ll be informed of any recalls or issues that could potentially lead to a fire.

What steps should I take for fire prevention with my dishwasher?

For fire prevention, make sure to always have a working smoke alarm, never leave your dishwasher running when you go to bed or leave the house, and regularly inspect the power cord and other components for wear and tear.

What should I do if my dishwasher catches fire?

If your dishwasher catches fire, immediately turn off the appliance if it’s safe to do so, use a fire extinguisher to douse small flames, and call the fire department. Do not attempt to handle a large appliance fire on your own.

Are older dishwashers more likely to catch fire?

Yes, older dishwashers can be more prone to fires due to aging electronics and worn-out components. Upgrading to a new dishwasher can be a safer option if your current one is significantly aged.

Should I get restoration services after a dishwasher fire?

Yes, enlisting professional restoration services after a dishwasher fire can ensure proper cleanup and help address any damage caused by smoke and water, ensuring your home is safe again.

Can poor maintenance lead to dishwasher fires?

Absolutely. Poor maintenance can cause problems like water leaks and electrical issues, which are common culprits behind dishwasher fires. Regular maintenance can help keep your appliance in good working order and reduce fire risks.

Is it safe to leave appliances running when I’m not home?

It’s generally not recommended to leave appliances like dishwashers running unattended or when going to bed. This reduces the risk of fires and allows you to act quickly if something goes wrong.

What should I look for when purchasing a new dishwasher to ensure fire safety?

When buying a new dishwasher, check for modern safety features, reliable brand reviews, and a strong warranty. Brands like Whirlpool and Kenmore Elite dishwashers are popular for their advanced safety mechanisms.

What role does a working smoke alarm play in fire safety with appliances?

A working smoke alarm is critical for early detection of fires. It can give you the crucial time needed to address the blazing appliance or evacuate the house safely.

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