Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oven Fire!!!

Last night my oven caught on fire.  I'm not talking about a little red glow here, I'm talking flames shooting up and causing my entire kitchen to glow with the eerie reddish-yellow glow of a house on fire.  From what I have learned since last night, a quick 10-15 second inspection prior to using the oven could have prevented this fire. 

Wall Oven, element bubble, oven

Here's the story of what transpired.  We decided to make homemade pizzas last night.  I turned the oven on to preheat while my son and I worked together to make a specialty pizza for each member of our family.  It's always lots of fun but last night's will definitely be the most memorable.

In the past couple of days, I have noticed a little black bubble form on my oven's bottom heating element.  It looked exactly like what happens when a casserole spills over and burns onto the element.  Despite my best efforts, spills happen every now and again so I didn't think much of it.  The only thing that was "odd" about it this time was there was no spill in the bottom of the oven from a casserole overflowing, just a black bubble on the element.

I put the pizzas in the oven to cook and walked out of the kitchen to another part of the house.  Remembering I'd left my drink in the kitchen, I returned to retrieve it and noticed an odd reddish-yellow glow coming from the direction of my oven which was lighting up my entire kitchen.  Thinking my son had turned on the oven light when I wasn't looking, I pushed the button to turn the oven light off.  It didn't work, so I pushed it again and again.

Completely perplexed, I opened the oven door (big mistake) and got a face full of searing heat and a flame of fire which flashed up due to the oxygen that came in and fed it.  I jumped back and inadvertently slammed the door shut.  I checked my face with my hands and yep, I had both eyebrows and eyelashes..... and skin.  I must have screamed because my husband and son came at a full run.

I immediately turned off the oven while my husband ran out to the breaker box and shut off the power to it.  My son grabbed the phone and was ready to dial 9-1-1 (he's used to this drill given his father's penchant for inadvertantly setting things ablaze).  Because we shut off the power to the oven, the fuel for the fire (electricity) was cut off and the fire died almost immediately.

Last night as I was googling to see if the oven was able to be repaired or a total loss, I discovered exploding heating elements are a very common problem.  If I had not gone back into the kitchen and noticed the glow from the oven and stopped the fire right when it happened, our entire house could have caught on fire.  Since we were in other parts of the house, this could have become a very dangerous and life-threatening situation.

So, in an effort to prevent others from experiencing this very scary and very dangerous problem, I'm going to ask you to go check your oven's heating elements (top and bottom) right now, before your heating element ever has the chance to explode like mine did.  The heating element will almost always get a place on it which looks (to me) like something had dripped just on the element and created a kind of black blob or bubble.  I thought that spot was just chicken grease, or maybe a casserole that overflowed just right and hit the element but not the bottom of the oven.  Nope, that black bubble was the element going bad. 

If your element has one of these bubbles, DO NOT USE THE OVEN.  Either call a service repair person or, if you're handy (thankfully my husband is), you can replace it rather quickly and easily yourself (it's only 2 monkey wrenchs out of 5 on the DIY scale of difficulty) after turning off the breaker and watching one of the How-To videos on YouTube.

If you should experience one of these explosions, KEEP THE OVEN DOOR CLOSED, TURN OFF THE OVEN IMMEDIATELY AND SHUT OFF THE BREAKER TO THE OVEN.  Do not mess with throwing flour on the fire.  Because the electricity is the fuel for the fire, it's imperative to get the power shut off.  As the power current shuts off, the fire will go out on its own. 

Because this could have burned our house down (with us in it), I now realize the danger this little inocuous looking bubble poses, and would like to suggest that you check your oven's heating elements every single time you go to turn your oven on.  It takes maybe 5-10 seconds.  Please pass this information along to your friends and family (or a link to this blog posting), so they too can be proactive in checking their ovens.  Keeping friends, family, and loved ones safe is worth the few extra seconds it takes to check the oven element on a regular basis.

by:  Christie Bielss


  1. Awesome post i had a great experience of this Oven its very easy to operate it and very helpful for my daily life

    1. Thanks Arshdeep Sidhu! This oven is very easy just have to watch out for those aging baking elements.