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Appliance Fires: What You Need to Know

Your household appliances: you rely on them to toast your bread, clean your clothes and dishes, and cook your dinner. 

But what happens when something goes wrong, and those same appliances lead to fire and damage in your home? 

Here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, our Chicago-based fire damage cleanup team regularly restores homes damaged by appliance fires, so we know a thing or two about how devastating this can be. 

In this article, we’re going to talk a bit about appliance fires, cover some appliance fire statistics, and help you understand what you can do to avoid this calamity.

Let’s dive in. 

How Do Appliance Fires Happen?

Appliance fires sound frightening, but they’re shockingly common. Each year, thousands of fires flare up in the U.S. across homes and hotels alike because of kitchen appliances alone. In some cases, these fires are the result of user error. 

In others, though, they have nothing to do with use. Instead, they’re the result of faulty wiring or electrical components in the appliance. 

In some of the most frightening scenarios, fires start when recalled parts go haywire on appliances, as was the case in the 2008 fire that destroyed a couple’s condo in Oakland Township, Michigan. 

The cause? 

The pair’s GE microwave oven turned on by itself, burning the home down while they celebrated the fourth of July elsewhere. 

Which Household Appliances Cause the Most Fires?

dryer fire
We regularly service homes whose dryers have caused fires

While any household appliance could, theoretically, cause a fire, these are the most common culprits:

  • Cooking ranges. Stoves are an obvious culprit when it comes to house fires. The most common causes are human error or electrical or mechanical problems inside the stove itself. 
  • Clothes washers and dryers. Clogged lint traps are a significant fire risk. The dryer isn’t the only culprit, though: the moving parts inside a washing machine drum can (and do) catch fire. 
  • Furnaces. Heating appliances like oil-fired furnaces have malfunctioned and caused smoke to be distributed throughout the property.
  • Dishwashers. While it may come as a surprise, dishwashers are the second leading cause of kitchen fires caused by non-cooking appliances. The culprit is typically the combination of electronics and heating elements with water. 
  • Refrigerators. Did you know that refrigerators are actually the most common fire-causing appliance in the U.S.? You can blame the fact that refrigerators run all day and night, leading to tired old relay switches and worn-out compressors, both of which are serious fire risks.  

Appliance Fire Statistics You Need to Know About

tv fire damage chicago il

Of all the residential building fires reported in 2018, FEMA reports that a whopping 50.7% were due to cooking. 9.4%, meanwhile, were caused by heating elements, and electrical malfunctions caused 6.8%. 

Here are some additional appliance fire statistics to be aware of:

  • Appliances caused 6.2% of residential building fires resulting in injuries in 2018.
  • Heating equipment is the leading cause of fires in U.S. homes, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
  • Heating equipment fires (due to appliances like furnaces and electric fireplaces) caused 15% of all home fires between 2012-2016. Even worse, they were responsible for 19% of home fire deaths.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission, reporting on estimates collected between 2006-2008, says that major appliances were responsible for upwards of 150,000 residential fires annually. Those fires were responsible for 3,670 injuries, 150 deaths, and a whopping $547 million in property damage.

Does an Appliance Fire Damage the Outlet?

Depending on the type and severity of the fire, the answer may be “yes.” As a general rule, appliance fires release toxic, pungent smoke that is heavy enough to cling to furnishings and embed itself in the walls. 

Even worse, appliance fires may release Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, breathing VOCs can cause a variety of health effects, including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, and dizziness. 

Even if the damage to your home looks minimal, you can never take that for granted with an appliance fire. To protect your health and minimize damage to your property, contact a skilled restoration company that knows how to cope with the unique challenges and dangers of appliance fires.

Dealing with an Appliance Fire in Chicago, IL? We Can Help!

servicemaster fire damage van

If you’ve experienced an appliance fire at your property in Chicago or the suburbs, you need a skilled team of restoration experts ready to respond at a moment’s notice. 

At ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, our team of IICRC-certified restoration technicians specialize in repairing the damage from appliance fires and getting your property back to working order. 

Don’t suffer through fire damage on your own – contact our best-in-class team to help.

Give us a call today to request an on-site inspection and quote: 312-707-8597