Friday 5 October 2018


Can your refrigerator explode?                                     

Luckily no-one was hurt when Kathy Cullingworth's fridge exploded but the damage bill was £10,000 ($13,149 in US money)

A series of violent fridge explosions is believed to have been caused by leaks of 'environmentally-friendly' coolant.

Safety standards for manufacturers might have to be reviewed following the blasts, which have destroyed several kitchens.

At least four similar explosions have been reported in the last three years in the UK, two of them since May.

The problem appears to result from a widespread switch to 'Greenfreeze' technology over the past 15 years and the use of isobutane and propane hydrocarbon gases as refrigerants.

Previously CFCs and HFCs were used in fridges but these gases damaged the ozone layer and contributed significantly to global warming. There are now more than 300 million Greenfreeze fridges around the world.

They are designed with safety features to ensure the flammable natural gas inside the pipework cannot leak into the fridge.

However, if this happens there is a risk of a powerful blast as the gas could be ignited by a spark when the thermostat switches off.

Graeme Fox, an air-conditioning and refrigeration contractor, said: 'During the day when the fridge door is frequently opened there isn't a problem. 

'But at night, when everyone is sleeping and the door remains shut, this leaked highly flammable gas can build up in the fridge cabinet.'

Mother-of-two Kathy Cullingworth, is taking legal advice after her Creda fridge exploded three weeks ago at her home in Normanton, West Yorkshire. The Mail told how it caused more than £10,000 of damage.

An independent engineer confirmed the fridge contained isobutane refrigerant and a leak is suspected. It was the similar fate befell Carline Preece and her family at their home in West Bromwich.

Fortunately Mrs Preece, 44, her husband Michael, 45, and their four children were in bed when the fridge blew at 6 am. 

Mrs Preece thought an earthquake had struck. She said: 'The doors were ripped in half, the front door has a gaping hole in it and all the windows were blown open by the force.'

Jane Gartshore, president of the Institute of Refrigeration, said there is a 'theoretical possibility' that such explosions can be caused by a leak of isobutane.  However,  she stressed that there  are hundreds of millions of these fridges in kitchens and these incidents are very, very rare. However, you don’t want to be next to one when it explodes. The suspense would be awful. It would be like standing next to a time bomb when you don’t know the time it will explode.

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