Refrigerators Can Explode, Because There's Not Enough to Be Worried About

Find out how to prevent a fridge explosion in your house.  

Woman Opening Refrigerator
Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images

"I was in my room I was asleep and I just heard the bang," Mark Ligondie recalled to WPTV last month.

Ligondie woke with a start and ran from his bedroom to the kitchen of his family's home in West Palm Beach, Florida. In the kitchen, he found the smoldering remains of the refrigerator.

"There were fumes coming everywhere," he added.

The four-month-old fridge had exploded, expanding to the point that it bent the metal of the stove. The blast created large cracks in the ceilings and walls, and even broke a window in the primary bedroom. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

It sounds like a horrible fluke, but reports that though rare, refrigerator explosions pose a very real threat to homes. Neil Everitt, former editor at ACR News, referred to refrigerator explosions as "ignored disasters" and went as far as to call them the most dangerous appliances in a home.

Why? Because they occur suddenly and without warning.

As for how a fridge can spontaneously explode, sheds a little light. It all starts and ends with the compressor—the mechanism that keeps your food cold. Sometimes, as the gas refrigerant moves through the compressor, the back of a fridge becomes extremely hot, causing the compressor's coils to contract, trapping the highly flammable gas. When the gas gets constricted, it can cause it to burst out of the coils trying to contain it.

So, what's a concerned homeowner to do?

Wayne Archer, an appliance expert at Sears Home Services, told to rely on your ears to identify a fridge on the fritz. The compressor of a properly functioning refrigerator should emit a steady, high-frequency humming noise when it's running. If your fridge makes a choppy sound or no noise at all, the coils could be clogged.

"The easiest way to save your refrigerator is to clean the condenser coils," Archer advised.

Think your fridge needs a cleaning? Find out more about cleaning your refrigerator coils here.

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