Imagine coming home to meet your dishwasher extremely heated, smoking, and on the brink of causing a fire. Thankfully, you were right in time to save your house and yourself.
But after switching off your machine’s power switch, you are left with a sigh of relief in your mouth and the mind-boggling question in your heart: “How on earth did my dishwasher almost cause an outbreak?”.
This analogy might look like a hypothetical situation, but sadly, statistics reveal that dishwasher ranks as one of the leading cause of fire outbreak in homes.
This article is all about revealing the truth behind dishwasher fires and how you can prevent them.
Can Dishwasher Cause a Fire?
The dishwasher sitting in your kitchen is capable of causing a fire outbreak in your home. Although this is primarily hinged on a few factors; the most common cause is a malfunction in the electrical appliance, amongst other factors like an oversight from the users and manufacturers.
Just like any other escalated electrical spark, a dishwasher-caused fire can raze down the kitchen, spread to other rooms, and claim lives if not attended to early.
Why Would A Dishwasher Catch Fire?
1- Overheating Caused by Leaving the Dishwasher to Run Overnight or for an Extended Period
If you are fond of leaving your dishwasher to run for a long time, especially when you are about to step out or go to bed, today would be a good day to stop.
Just like any electrical appliance, when a dishwasher overheats, it is on the road to a malfunction. Letting the machine run for so long would leave the control board extremely hot.
This heat would affect certain connected wires by melting or burning them, eventually leading to a spark or fire.
2- Leaky Dishwasher
Leaks are common problems that owners of dishwashers often encounter. This can be caused by a faulty hose or pipe problem.
Aside from a leaky dishwasher making a mess on the kitchen floor, it is a step away from an electrical disaster.
When the water trickling down comes in contact with an electric opening, a spark will be caused, and the machine might blow up if not fortunate.
3- Poor Wiring
As much as a dishwasher installation might seem like a plumbing job, it is also necessary for you to call an expert electrician alongside to ensure that the electrical fittings are perfectly in place.
A seemingly little oversight in the wiring can cause current to flow in the wrong direction and trigger a catastrophe.
You have to ensure that the wirings and connections are where they are meant to be, and that can only be possible when a plumber and the electrician work together.
4- Plugging Your Dishwasher into an Extension Box
Several electrical appliances are used in the kitchen, and in some cases, the switch outlet may not be enough to cater to all of them.
Getting and using an extension box might seem like a great option to solve this problem, but it may lead to a bigger problem in the future.
It is often advised to connect big appliances like the dishwasher to the main power source because an extension box may not be able to carry the dishwasher’s power current.
Sooner rather than later, the extension box or the dishwasher cord might melt, and a spark and a fire might start from there.
5- Failure to Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions
Not all dishwashers are designed the same way. Some dishwashers have certain peculiarities in the way they should be used.
The instructions could range from how long the dishwashers should be made to run to the type of detergent to be used.
Failure to do so may result in a malfunction of some sort, and rarely, a fire could be caused.
What to Do After a Dishwasher Caused Electrical Spark, Overheating, or Fire?
As we will get to understand in the subsequent sections deeply, there are varying causes of dishwasher sparks, over-heating, and fire.
If you just experienced any of those mentioned above and are wondering about the next thing to do with the dishwasher (especially with the fact that one might want to put the dishwasher away), here are a few things to do after a dishwasher experiences a spark, over-heating, or causes a fire:
1- Contact the Experts
If your dishwasher ever gets to cause a fire, the first step after dousing the fire or turning off the power supply is to inform the plumber/electrician who installed it of the situation you just encountered.
This way, whenever you encounter a problem, that expert would be in the best place to help you discover what went wrong, fix it, show you how to prevent a repeat, or tell you if you should entirely discard the appliance.
2- Inform the Manufacturer
This is more or less an ethical responsibility. Many manufacturers cherish feedback as it would help them learn better about users’ experiences.
If your dishwasher ever causes a spark, fire, or overheats, it is necessary for you to make the makers of the dishwasher aware of this.
By informing them, they would be able to cross-check that their appliances are in saleable condition and garner information to discover if the cause of the problem was a result of a mistake during the production of the machine (or not) and to prevent sending out faulty dishwashers to the market.
How Can You Prevent Your Dishwasher From Causing A Fire?
1- Purchase Your Dishwasher from a Reputable Brand
“Bad dishwasher” is not always written on the body of the machine.
The first step to guaranteeing that you don’t bring a ticking time bomb into your home is by purchasing a quality dishwasher from a trusted brand.
Low-quality dishwashers would definitely have a fault here and there, and someday, a spark might happen.
It is advisable to read reviews online about products or consult friends and experts on the best pick before making a buying decision.
2- Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions
You can prevent a spark and fire if you follow the instructions diligently on how the dishwasher should be used.
These instructions could include how the machine should be powered, the type of detergent to use, or how long the device should be left to run.
3- Contact Experts for Your Dishwasher Installation
Being a DIYer helps save costs and gives you hands-on knowledge about your appliances, which is excellent.
To be extra safe and avoid making a costly mistake, leave the dishwasher installation in the hands of an expert plumber and electrician.
4- Repair Any Malfunction Immediately Upon Noticing
Never take chances with a leaking hose, melted power cord, or any malfunction in or around the dishwasher.
These pose fire hazards, and they often happen when one least expects them.
5- Avoid Letting Your Dishwasher Overheat
More often than not, using your dishwasher for an extended period often can cause it to overheat.
Not only can an overheated dishwasher injure the user (who wants to use it) or pets (that innocently rest on the body of the dishwasher), but the heat might also burn some wires, which can trigger a flame.
How To Put Out A Dishwasher Fire?
1- The first thing to do immediately after you discover that your dishwasher is on fire is to call the fire services.
2- While the phone rings or as you speak to the agent on the phone, head to where the main power supply is and turn it off to avoid directly turning off the power outlet where the dishwasher is plugged.
If you can reach the dishwasher power outlet, turn off the power switch immediately.
3- If the fire is quite intense, evacuate family and pet(s) from the building and unplug/remove anything in the kitchen that can further intensify the fire (if you can).
If it’s only a little fire, you can use your fire extinguisher.
4- It is crucial to have your fire extinguisher close by in case of an emergency like this.
With your fire extinguisher in your hands, spray the fire back and forth or side-to-side sweepingly. Do not spray on a particular spot.
5- If you do not have a fire extinguisher at that moment, get the baking powder in your cabinet and pour it excessively on the fire.
Baking powder is excellent for putting out minor fire outbreaks.
Is It Safe To Leave Dishwasher Running Overnight?
No, it isn’t safe to leave the dishwasher on overnight. Homeowners have recorded several cases of dishwasher fires caused by letting the dishwasher run all night. (Source)
When you let this happen, your machine begins to receive power for an extended time, and gradually, the control board becomes overly heated.
This can make the plastic within and outside the machine melt. Even the wires are at risk of melting and this would eventually lead to a fire outbreak.
Dishwasher fires are not so uncommon in homes. This problem has become a source of concern as no one knows who would be affected next and its level of impact.
In this article, we delved deeply into the root causes of a dishwasher fire, how to prevent it, and what to do when it happens.