NBC 5 Responds

Refrigerator Explodes Inside Fort Worth Family's Home

Cause of explosion unknown, under review

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A Fort Worth family said they didn’t notice anything unusual before their eight-year-old refrigerator exploded inside their home.

“No noises, no smell, no nothing. Just a regular, good refrigerator. I would think it was a great refrigerator,” said Llajaira Bolaños.

Bolaños said she, her husband, and three children were sleeping when they heard the explosion just before 11 p.m. on Feb. 2.

“All of a sudden, we hear a large bang like an explosive,” said Bolaños. “We came to the kitchen, I see smoke, I ran, got my phone and called the fire department.”

No one was hurt and the family waited outside as firefighters checked the home. When the smoke cleared, the family found fridge parts scattered across the kitchen. The blast blew the French doors several feet away from the fridge.

The Fort Worth Fire Department said it couldn’t determine what caused the explosion and did not find anything criminal.

Bolaños said she reached out to Whirlpool about the explosion and it sent a team to pick up the fridge to examine it.

In an email to NBC 5 Responds Whirlpool shared, “Whirlpool Corporation is committed to providing safe products for our consumers. While we have only been able to complete an initial investigation at this point, we do not believe this incident was caused by any sort of product failure. We believe this is an isolated incident and we are in the process of working with the consumer to conduct a complete investigation. We stand behind our products and encourage anyone who has questions or concerns about their Whirlpool Corporation appliances to reach out to us at 1-866-698-2538.”

Whirlpool said there is no recall for that particular fridge model and the model is safe to use.

Whirlpool said an investigation team is working to pin down the source of the explosion.

NBC 5 responds asked a handyman and master electrician about the explosion. Neither have examined Bolaños’ fridge and neither are involved in the case.

Both agree fridge explosions are very rare.

“In 30 years, more than 15 residential, specifically, I've never heard the case of the exploding refrigerator,” said Aaron Behunin, a master electrician with Milestone.

Chang Lee, a handyman with Fixer.com, agrees.

“It's not as common as people think. If you're worried about that, some preventive maintenance should give you peace of mind,” said Lee.

Lee recommends checking your fridge to ensure there’s enough airflow. If your fridge is pressed up against the wall, pull it back a few inches.

Lee and Behunin said they recommend cleaning up dust. Wipe down appliances and use canned air or a vacuum to clear trapped dust and pet hair. Check user manuals to be sure you’re maintaining your appliance properly.

“Dust particles and other things, if they collect in areas where there is electricity being used, specifically motors that can provide a bit of a spark, it can create a combustible situation,” explained Behunin.

Lee recommends looking for the coils in your fridge and wiping them down, per manufacturer recommendations.

“In the front or back of the refrigerator [depending on the model], there is a compressor and next to the compressor there's a set of coils,” said Lee.

Lee said when coils in your fridge are caked with dust and dirt, excess heat builds up.

“The coil will constrict and you will not be able to get gas to go from gas to liquid and back around to gas properly. So, you build up pressure and once the gas keeps building up, at a certain point, the coils could explode,” said Lee.

He emphasized there could be an explosion, but that’s not typical.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were no recent reports of refrigerator explosions in its databases – going back to 2018.

Bolaños said she’s eager for answers about what caused their fridge to go out – with a bang.

In April, Whirlpool delivered a replacement fridge to the family.

Bolaños has filed an additional claim with Whirlpool for damage to her kitchen.

Whirlpool said that claim is under review.

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