Fire concerns over self-starting microwaves
Sandra Hermiston & Lynda Steele, CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, February 14, 2013 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 14, 2013 8:10PM PST
A group of residents in a Squamish condo complex is concerned their microwaves pose a fire hazard, claiming the appliances turn on by themselves.
The allegedly malfunctioning microwaves are the same model at the centre of a consumer investigation in the U.S.
Amanda Andrew, one of the residents demanding a recall, told CTV News her microwave was acting possessed.
"Basically it would start beeping and then turn itself on. We didn't even have to be using it for this to happen," said Andrew. Andrew now has to plug the microwave in and unplug it after every use.
Dawn Marie Haldenby lives in the same Squamish condo complex. Her KitchenAid microwave is the same model, KHMS155LSS, and Haldenby said it has a mind of its own.
"You would all of a sudden start hearing beeping. In the middle of the night was when I first started noticing it. It would wake you up in the middle of the night thinking that someone was downstairs playing with our microwave," said Haldenby.
The condo residents were horrified to learn about a Consumer Reports investigation into devastating house fires blamed on the same model KitchenAid microwave. The investigation looked at thousands of pages of Consumer Product Safety Commission documents detailing appliance fires, including many obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.
More than 40 of the CPSC reports involved KitchenAid microwaves that were said to have turned on by themselves and, in some cases, caused fires.
Consumer reporter Lynda Steele contacted Whirlpool, the maker of KitchenAid microwaves, and the company said it has not been able to verify reports of fires caused by the model in question. It did admit that a service pointer was issued to appliance technicians in January of 2010 that says the microwave “display behaves erratically, flashes on and off, counts down, beeps and possibly starts the microwave oven."
But in an email to CTV News, Whirlpool officials insisted that "this issue does not present a safety concern” and the company had not “verified a single instance where the microwave self activated and caused heat damage outside the unit."
Whirlpool said the microwaves “are equipped with several safety features, including a thermal cutoff switch. This feature cuts off power to the unit if the temperature reaches a certain point and eliminates the risk of fire or flame escaping the cavity of the microwave.”
Andrew says the residents of the condo complex want the company to take action and recall the units.
Whirlpool said it stopped selling the KitchenAid microwave in 2007. But a lot of homeowners may still have the model in question in their homes and may not know about the self starting risk.
The company is willing to fix the microwaves that are having issues, even if they are not under warranty anymore. The models affected are: KitchenAid KHMS-155-LSS, KHMS-155-LBT, KHMS-155-LBL and KHMS-155-LWH.
Customers can call Whirlpool at 1-800-422-1230 and the company will send a technician to install a replacement keypad or control panel at no charge.