Mini fridges are one the most convenient household appliances to own. It benefits people who live in small apartments and have to worry about space.
It also works well for people who want one in their bedrooms for convenience. However, if you are safety conscious, you might be concerned about the likelihood of your fridge causing a fire.
A mini fridge can catch fire or blow up. However, it is rare for this to happen. According to a BBC survey, of all household machines, a mini fridge causes fire outbreaks 7% of the time. Despite the low percentage, there are a few reasons your mini fridge might blow up.
Can a Mini Fridge Explode and Cause Fire?
A mini fridge can explode and cause a fire. But this explosion only happens on rare occasions.
The number of times a fridge causes a fire is relatively low compared to washing machines, tumble dryers, ovens, and stoves.
Some reasons why a mini fridge might catch on fire are:
The compressor is the part of the fridge that promotes the flow of the gas refrigerant through the coils. It is found at the back of the mini-fridge.
The compressor functions so that it keeps the inside of the fridge cold and the outside warm.
However, if the external coils get too hot, the coils begin to contract to trap and prevent the refrigerant gas from cycling.
Over time, as the gas accumulates within the coil, the pressure can lead to an explosion.
#2. Non-Metal Backing
If your fridge is entirely made of metal, the chances of it catching on fire are even more reduced.
However, most mini-fridges, especially older models, have some plastic and non-metal pieces in the back of the fridge. These pieces can cause fires when the external temperature becomes too hot.
Although, even mini fridges with metal backings stand a chance of overheating. This possibility also poses some risks of explosion.
#3. Coils Overheating
The external coils of a regular or mini fridge are usually warm to the touch. But, if the refrigerator is not placed in a well-ventilated area, the coils can become hot.
This heating up disrupts the movement of the refrigerant gas, trapping it within the coils.
This trapping will lead to a build-up of pressure and, eventually, an explosion. This explosion can, in turn, lead to a fire.
#4. Fridge Placement
Where you place your mini fridge is crucial. It is paramount to install this appliance on a flat surface, in a well-ventilated area, and away from flammable substances.
Surfaces like carpets absorb the heat that should escape from the fridge. Unfortunately, carpets also block proper airflow to the fridge condenser.
These two actions can cause overheating of the fridge and possible explosions. It is also necessary to avoid putting other appliances near the fridge.
For example, heavy-duty appliances like microwaves, stoves, and ovens should not be on the mini-fridge. The heat these other machines emit can cause your mini fridge to overheat.
#5. Plugs and Sockets
Faulty plugs or sockets can produce sparks which can lead to a fire. While this can be easily controlled, it becomes challenging if the fridge is in a crowded space surrounded by flammable substances.
How Do You Keep a Mini Fridge from Exploding?
You can keep your mini fridge from exploding through good maintenance practices. Mini fridges are one of the most straightforward household appliances to maintain.
You can practice the following tips to prevent mini fridge fires or explosions.
#1. Buy Fridges with Certified Protection
Most mini fridges have third-party certified protection from companies that offer a guarantee that your appliance meets safety and quality standards.
The major companies that offer these certifications are Underwriter Laboratories, Electrical Testing Laboratories, and the Canadian Standards Association.
These companies are UL, ETL, and CSA for short. Appliances certified by these companies have a label that identifies them.
#2. Ventilate the Compressor and the Back Coils
It would be best to ensure that the compressor is in a well-ventilated area. Avoid putting your mini fridge in enclosed spaces where the compressor cannot breathe.
Places like cupboards and closets are not ideal for a mini fridge. It is ideal for your mini fridge to be at least a few centimeters from the wall to allow proper ventilation.
#3. Ventilate Under the Fridge
It is advisable to place your fridge on flat surfaces. However, it is also necessary to check the distance between the bottom of the fridge and the ground.
You should ensure that there is a reasonable distance to allow air exchange. Doing this is even more crucial if you have a carpet under the fridge.
#4. Keep Your Fridge from Other Appliances
It is common for people to put appliances like blenders and toasters on their fridges. Some people even put things like ovens, stoves, or bigger fridges near the mini-fridge
This practice is risky. Your mini fridge should stand alone in a space that receives proper ventilation. This measure goes a long way to prevent overheating.
#5. Check the Sockets and Plugs
Because fridges are almost always left on, it is easy to neglect their plugs and sockets. It is best to always check the sockets, especially before installation.
Faulty wires, sockets, and plugs can give off sparks or melt, causing electrical accidents.
This step is essential if your house or apartment is old, as these houses are most likely to develop faults.
#6. Check the Entire Back Compartment
The back of your mini fridge holds the compressor, fans, vents, and external coils.
These components require good ventilation to avoid overheating. Unfortunately, dust, papers, and other clutter can prevent ventilation.
Clutter-like paper can serve as kindling in the event of sparks and fires. Also, dusty and cluttered coils and vents can be tasking on the fridge, increasing its energy intake.
For these reasons, you should regularly vacuum and clean behind the mini fridge, ensuring that the fridge works in optimal conditions.
Below is a table showing possible causes and preventive measures for a mini refrigerator exploding or catching on fire.
|Possible Causes||Preventive Measures|
|Compressor and back coils||Proper ventilation and regular cleaning|
Take your fridge to professionals regularly for servicing.
|Coils overheating||Proper ventilation|
Regularly use a vacuum cleaner to clear dust from the coils.
|Fridge Placement||Place fridges in spacious areas, away from other appliancesAvoid putting the fridge directly on the floor to allow for ventilation.|
|Faulty plugs and sockets||Correct wiring and regular inspectionAvoid using the fridge sockets for other appliances.|
Other maintenance measures for mini-fridges are:
- Take your mini fridge for servicing and check the circuits and wiring.
- Pay attention to any unusual smells like burning wires or parts.
- If you notice any smells, unplug the fridge and call for a technician.
- Pay attention to unusual sounds or no sounds at all. This sound malfunction usually means the fans or other parts, like the vents, are blocked or clogged.
- Ensure your fridge is on an even surface to prevent tilting and falling.
- Clean the insides of the refrigerator, especially the shelves, drip pans, and the door gasket. Throw out leftovers that have been in there for more than a month.
- As much as possible, avoid placing heavy items on your mini fridge.
- If your fridge is old, pay extra attention to the wiring as they are susceptible to electrical hazards.
Can an Unplugged Fridge Catch Fire?
On its own, an unplugged fridge cannot catch on fire. When any electrical appliance catches on fire or blows up, it is usually due to electrical malfunctions.
These malfunctions include faulty wiring, circuits, or, in the case of regular or mini-fridges, overheating.
So even if your apartment experiences a fire, your refrigerators will most likely be the least burnt appliances.
Unplugging your fridge is not advisable to prevent a fire’s likely occurrence. You should only unplug your fridge if it is empty and you know you will not be home for a while.
Doing this helps you to cut down on electrical costs. However, you should not disconnect your fridge from power if you have food items in the refrigerator.
Do Mini Fridges Overheat?
Yes, a mini fridge can overheat. Overheating usually happens for many reasons, most of which have been discussed above.
Usually, the back of the fridge is supposed to be warm when you touch it. It becomes a problem when those external coils are too hot to touch.
The most common reason your mini fridge would overheat is if the coils and compressor do not receive enough ventilation.
Another reason for the overheating is the failure of the fans to work properly. If the fan is not performing its function, the fridge will overheat.
Eventually, the overheating will lead to pressure build-up. This pressure is risky as it can lead to electrical hazards.
Overheating can also cause the compressor to fail. Irrespective of the extent of the damage, compressors are expensive to repair or replace.
All home appliances are likely to cause fires. However, regular or mini fridges are less likely to do so. Most reported fire cases caused by fridges are a result of faulty fridges.
Therefore, if you notice any problems with your appliance, call a technician immediately.
Good maintenance practices will help your fridge function properly and reduce the possibility of explosions.