Is your electric stove safe? Yes, it is. But as this guide will soon show, the stove can still catch fire if you mishandle it. In fact, stoves can explode.
Can Electric Stove Catch Fire? An electric stove can catch fire. Electric stoves cook food by running a current through a metal coil, raising the temperature, and transmitting the heat to the cooktop surface. Any appliance that generates enough heat to cook food can start a fire.
Modern electric stoves have an automatic shut-off mechanism that deactivates the appliance if it stays on for too long. But that is not an excuse to leave your electric stove unattended.
Some stoves can remain active for a whopping 12 hours before the automatic shut-off feature kicks in and switches the devices off. That is a problem because 12 hours is more than enough time for a stove to catch fire, start a fire, or explode. You can avoid these outcomes by turning the appliance off whenever you stop using it.
What Can Cause A Stove To Catch Fire?
Electric stoves cannot combust randomly. If yours started a fire, you can blame one or more of the following:
1). Loose Connection
Is your stove connected to a conventional wall outlet? That outlet can start a fire because of loose connections and damaged wiring. Sockets fail all the time. This becomes a problem when those failures produce arcing.
2). Damaged Coils
Despite what many laypeople presume, the coils won’t burst into flames simply because you left the electric stove on all night. The coils become a threat when they develop faults. That includes cracking, coming loose, and shifting out of their original position. Damaged coils can produce sparks, paving the way for a roaring electric fire.
3). Flammable Material
Some homeowners don’t stop at leaving their stoves on for hours on end. They also store flammable items on top of the stove. That includes towels and cereal boxes. A fire will start if someone accidentally turns these appliances on without removing the flammable items.
But what if you’re too clever to leave towels and boxes on the appliance? You still have flammable items in the area. A spark from a stove you left unattended at night can ignite the curtains or a magazine on the counter.
4). Wrong Gauge Wire
When was the last time you hired an expert to perform maintenance on your kitchen appliances? Routine maintenance allows technicians to identify and replace outdated wiring. The conductors in the outlet are not your only concern.
You have the power cord to consider, not to mention the cables that transmit electricity from the circuit to the electric stove. A fire may start as a result of the stove’s electrical needs exceeding the cable’s capacity because your previous contractor selected the wrong gauge.
Or maybe the gauge is acceptable, but the wiring is worn out. As such, it can’t tolerate the stove’s load. You expect the circuit breaker to protect you by responding to overloading, especially in cases where the cables are too small to accommodate the stove. But a breaker cannot protect you from the consequences of damaged wires.
Laypeople expect power surges to destroy their appliances. But that doesn’t always happen. Some surges cause arcing and overheating, two variables that start fires. A surge can also damage the wiring.
6). Greasy & Fatty Food
Do you cook greasy and fatty foods? These components can start a grease fire if you’re not careful. Grease and fat have been known to spray during the cooking process. In fact, if you inspect the heating elements, you will see all manner of food gunk and residue.
The heating elements can ignite that residue if you leave the stove unattended for long periods. The same thing can happen if you leave a pan on the stove. As your meal bubbles, some of the ingredients may spill out of the pan and onto the stove, igniting and starting a fire.
Spills are not your only concern. The food in the pan can start a fire if you leave it on the stove for so long that all the moisture evaporates.
Some people catch fire because they handled the electric stove while wearing robes, scarves, ties, and other clothing articles with loose sections, such as long sleeves. Similar accidents can occur if you permit children to play with the electric stoves.
Even if your appliance is sophisticated enough to lock the controls in your absence, an active stove can start a fire if you leave it unattended in a house with children.
How Long Does It Take For An Electric Stove To Catch Fire?
A grease fire can start within minutes. But if you have a habit of leaving an active stove unattended overnight, it can take months for the heating elements to incur enough damage to start a fire.
What To Do If Electric Stove Catches Fire?
- De-energize the stove. You can turn the heat off where possible. But if the device is engulfed in flames, you are better off cutting the power at the wall outlet. If the outlet started the fire and you can see sparks, use the breaker to kill the power.
- Depending on the size of the fire, you should think about calling emergency services. Small fires are manageable. You can use a fire extinguisher to put them out. But if you don’t trust your ability to control the fire, call for help.
- What if emergency services are several minutes away and you don’t have a fire extinguisher? Don’t open the windows and doors because doing so introduces more oxygen. Fires feed on oxygen. They will get bigger. You are better off keeping the windows and doors closed and covering your nose and mouth with a cloth.
- Avoid flour. It will make the fire worse. Baking powder is a superior alternative because it is non-combustible. The best option is sand. Although, most homeowners don’t have sand lying around.
- Avoid water. It will make a grease fire worse. If you have an electrical fire, the water can cause electrocution.
How To Prevent Fire From Electric Stoves?
- Don’t place flammable items on top of the appliance or around it. That includes towels, plastic containers, plastic bags, paper bags, etc.
- Replace all the damaged outlets in the kitchen.
- If you just extinguished a fire the stove started, ask an electrician to inspect the device for damage. They should do the same for all the appliances in the vicinity.
- Include an electric safety check in your home’s calendar. Hire an electrician to inspect your circuit’s wiring. They can identify and replace old or damaged wires.
- Make sure your home has plenty of fire extinguishers. Fires can start despite your best efforts to prevent them. It will give you peace of mind to know that your kitchen has all the tools you need to extinguish a fire if one starts.
- Don’t allow spills to sit because they tend to harden. Clean the stove immediately. The last thing you want is for a thick layer of grease and fat to form.
- Don’t leave stoves unattended. Turn them off once they are no longer in use.
- Don’t use the highest heat settings unless you have the time to sit and supervise your food. Don’t forget that food can start a fire when it bubbles over and spills onto the cooktop surface.
- Shut the stove off the moment you observe sparking, strange sounds, and burning smells.
- Buy stoves with a shut-off device that cuts the power if the stove goes unattended for too long. If yours doesn’t have one, ask a technician to buy and install these components.
- Use child lock mechanisms to prevent children from turning the stove on in your absence.