Monday, May 21, 2012

Appliances With Electronic Controls Can't Be Left Running

New Appliances Have Electronic Controls 

If you have any new appliance, it probably has an electronic control panel that keeps it functioning. The control panel is the brain to the appliance, so we found out with our Whirlpool electric range. With no brains, the appliance has no sense. 

We returned from a two-mile walk and decided we'd cook a frozen pizza for supper. I turned on the oven and pushed the temperature panel to stop at 400 degrees. When the preheat had less than a minute to go, I popped the pizza in the oven and went to watch television for 15 minutes while the pizza cooked. I heard the buzzer when the preheat completed.

Don't Use Your Appliances When You're Out
I was just in the next room, but smelled something strange. Got up to check on the pizza and saw that the oven no longer showed 400 degrees, but had something that looked like F-3 on the panel. The pizza smelled like it was burning and there was an electrical smell in the air.
I pulled on the oven door. It wouldn't open. I peeped through the glass and could see the coils were hot and continuing to heat. I called Hubby. He ran to the garage to turn the breaker off while the house was filling with smoke and burned-pizza odor. We opened the doors, trying to prevent the smoke alarm from attracting the neighbors.
The door wouldn't open even after the breaker was turned off. The pizza continued to burn because the oven was at a high temperature.
I went to the Internet to check to see if this happened to other people. It appears that it is fairly common, but I couldn't get the oven door open to locate the serial number or style of the oven. Even the 800 number is inside the oven. 
I rifled through the warranty files to locate the owner's manual and installation booklet. There is no information about this problem in the literature.
How the Electronic Controls Work 

After an hour or so, the oven door could be opened and we took the black pizza out and threw it away. The next day, I called Whirlpool and reported the dangers of what happened. They said that was normal and "the way the oven was intended to work." I suggested that the pizza could have caught fire if we hadn't been watching and that serious damage could have resulted.

The repairman replaced the control panel and assured me that it was made to work the way it did. When the control panel goes out, the temperature is uncontrolled and goes up like it does in self-cleaning mode. The oven door locks to avoid human burns -- to heck with the pizza or whatever you have inside. I suggested that a fuse could prevent this and was told that there is a fuse that would probably blow if the pizza had ignited.

The lesson we learned here is not to leave an appliance with an electronic control panel operating while we're out. This goes for the washer, dryer, oven, range or whatever. If the control panel fails, the appliance runs uncontrolled.

We hope our experience helps others realize the perils of electronic controls.  We had never used the self-cleaning feature on the oven and joked that the oven decided it was time for a cleaning -- but this is not a joking matter. A house full of smoke, a pizza in the oven that can't be rescued and an appliance with a locked door creates a scary situation. I'm still a little reluctant to use the oven when I'm home alone.

See you soon!


PS:  On a fun note, we've been seeing the yellow-crowned night heron in Central Texas since we've had some rain.