Target 11 investigates exploding oven glass

PITTSBURGH — Target 11 discovered the glass in oven doors is shattering without warning and it's happening with alarming frequency. Consumer Investigator Robin Taylor found out, so far, there have been no life-threatening injuries, but people have gotten hurt.

I talked to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They're very concerned and have launched an investigation to see if oven glass is meeting federal standards.

I also talked to homeowners, like Mary Walker, who weren't even cooking when the tempered glass exploded.

"My husband was here doing dishes. He's like, 'Oh my God. The glass just shattered,'" said Walker of Sarver, Pa.

She showed me what happened. "The whole glass, the outside glass, just splintered," said Walker.

Mary took pictures of her Frigidaire range that show tempered glass everywhere. Here's the odd part about it, the couple hadn't used the oven for months.

"It just collapsed into a million pieces, just everywhere," said Walker.

Sherry Sobansky shared a similar story with me about her Frigidaire Gallery Professional Series range, only this time it was the inner glass in her oven door that shattered.

"The glass was everywhere. And my dinner wasn't covered with foil for anything, so I lost dinner that night too," said Sobansky, of Canonsburg, Pa.

"It's happening with alarming frequency," said Alex Filip, a Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman.

The CPSC is investigating hundreds of complaints over the past couple of years, involving many manufacturers, and some include injuries.

"The agency is really concerned about this. We have not received any reports of major injuries, but we are concerned about it. We hope it is not a question of when," said Filip.

Local appliance repair experts are finding the glass in newer models isn't as sturdy as it used to be.

"It's very frightening when you hear the 'ching' of the safety glass just breaking everywhere," said Deborah Hauck of the Appliance Service Center.

Hauck says it's not considered a defect in the manufacturing process unless it breaks within the first year.

"In the first year, it is covered under certain terms in your warranty," said Hauck.

Technicians are taught to look for telltale signs indicating what caused the break.

"You may have hit it with a grocery bag six months previous, and it may have taken that long for just the vibration in your kitchen to initiate that crack," said Hauck.

The self-cleaning feature may also weaken the glass from the extremely high heat.

The CPSC is looking for patterns of defect. According to Underwriters Laboratories Safety Standards, tempered glass must break into nuggets, not shards, and that appears to be what's happening. But it still doesn't explain why.

"It wasn't at extreme temperature or anything. I was just cooking chicken," said Sobansky.

Sherry's range was 6 years old, Mary's was 8. The breaks came without warning and for no apparent reason.

"It just baffled us. It still does. We still can't figure out why it would do that," said Walker.

"We take the safety of our products seriously and work diligently with industry regulators to ensure the glass used in oven doors is performing as expected," said Eloise Hale, a spokeswoman for Electrolux, the company that owns Frigidaire.

Manufacturers recommend that consumers refer to their owner's manual for safety tips, because tempered glass can break.

Frigidaire recommends the following:

1. Do not close the oven door until all the oven racks are fully in place.
2. Do not hit the glass with pots, pans or any other object.
3. Scratching, hitting, jarring or stressing the glass may weaken its structure causing an increased risk of breakage at a later time.

If the glass in your oven shatters, take multiple pictures, contact the manufacturer, and file a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.