Exploding ovens: why glass doors shatter and what to do it if happens to you - Which? News

2022-08-20 17:15:14 By : Mr. Abie Peng

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Glass oven doors can explode without warning, sending glass fragments flying across your kitchen – or into your dinner.

Back in 2017, we investigated the problem of exploding oven doors after receiving a consistent trickle of reports on the issue from Which? members. When we asked members to come forward with their stories, we ended up with more than 70 examples, across all the major brands, of doors on ovens and cookers that have exploded unexpectedly.

Not only is this a distressing and unsettling experience to have, we also heard plenty of horror stories from members who had frustrating interactions with manufacturers when trying to get their oven fixed or replaced.

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Watch our video below for a quick guide to exploding ovens, then read on for more on why oven doors can explode, how to minimize the risk, and your rights if it does happen to you.

Cases of exploding oven doors are rare, but if yours does explode, you probably won't see it coming. There was no particular rhyme or reason as to when – or how – oven doors exploded in the cases we were told about by members. It could be either the inner or outer glass panels that shattered. Sometimes it happened when the oven was on, or running a pyrolytic self-cleaning cycle. Other times, the oven was cool and not in use.

We spoke to a variety of experts to understand the science behind exploding oven doors, including manufacturers, oven engineers and academic glass experts, and it turns out that this explosive problem is all down to the type of glass used.

Need a new oven? See the Best built-in ovens we've tested.

The glass in an oven door is strengthened to make it more resistant to heat and mechanical stress, and less likely to shatter under these conditions than ordinary glass. This is essential for ovens and cookers, which have to cope with extremes of temperature and daily use.

Tempered glass is thermally strengthened by heating it to more than 600°C, followed by rapid cooling. The outer layer of the glass cools more quickly, creating a compressed outer layer. This works to protect the inner part of the glass, which cools more slowly.

However, tempered glass is still brittle and can shatter. When it does, it tends to do so suddenly and violently. While this can be extremely alarming, tempered glass shatters into smaller, blunter fragments (image above, left) than ordinary glass (above, right). These are much less likely to cause a cut, hence why it has the nickname 'safety glass'.

There are lots of possible reasons why the tempered glass in an oven door might shatter, but it's often tricky to pin down exactly why it has happened. This is partly because the glass failure may happen a long time after the initial damage – a knock, scratch or accidental bash – occurred.

Our lab tests include measuring how hot the glass door gets when an oven is in use, to warn you of any potential risk of burning. We report the worst offenders in our built-in oven reviews .

As we investigated the possible reasons for why oven doors can explode, one thing became clear. You could be inadvertently damaging the glass when you use or clean your oven.

While looking after your oven will stand you in good stead to avoid a shattering experience, there are other factors that are less easy to control:

Another possible factor is the rise of full-glass oven doors. Older designs had a small window in the door, or no glass at all, but in recent years full or nearly full-sized glass oven doors have become fashionable. This means there's a greater surface area with potential for damage.

You could do everything right with your oven's glass and there's still no guarantee it won't explode due to inadvertent damage or natural imperfections that aren't your fault. As these cases aren't always clear-cut, you'd hope manufacturers would be sympathetic to your cause. Unfortunately, Which? members who told us about their shattered doors encountered a range of responses – from helpful to downright indifferent.

If your oven door shatters and your appliance is out of warranty, you may be in for a long wait and a costly repair. While some of our members had a speedy and sympathetic response, others were left without an oven for weeks, and ended up having to foot costly repair bills of more than £200.

In 2017, when we asked manufacturers to explain their policy on exploding ovens, most reiterated that safety was their number-one priority and that cases of exploding ovens were rare and dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Smeg told us it had recently changed its policy, and the brand now offers a repair or replacement in 95% of cases, even when out of warranty, subject to individual circumstances. We'd like to see more manufacturers taking this approach and giving customers the benefit of the doubt.

Best oven brands  - find out which brands came out on top for reliability and customer satisfaction in our latest brand survey.

Free glass replacement under warranty isn't usually a problem. But warranties usually last only one or two years, when your oven is likely to last 10 or more.

You could be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement from the retailer, but if your oven is more than six months old, the onus will probably be on you to prove a fault was present at the time of purchase.

If the worst happens, here are some steps you can take to get the best results:

For guidance on buying the best new oven or cooker, use our built-in oven reviews , range cooker reviews and freestanding cooker reviews .