Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Waking up to the smell of burning plastic…

As the lazier member of this particular family unit I usually manage an extra hour of uninterrupted sleep while the spousal unit enjoys an hour of peace and quiet with her first cuppa every morning. That’s normally a good thing and I awake to the smell of a fresh pot of coffee brewing. But this morning was different as I was disturbed by the distinct odor of burning plastic and a wall of smoke when I surfaced from the Land of Nod. Our Bosch dishwasher had burst into flames. Fortunately my wife was right there at the time and was able to extinguish the fire before too much damage was done, but it was still a frightening experience. Who expects their dishwasher, of all things, to catch fire?

IMG_20170221_080942249

Well, it seems like the manufacturer does. Apparently Bosch made a number of dishwashers in the early- to mid-2000s (this one’s vintage) that are known to be a fire hazard, and multiple recall notices were sent out to have defective units repaired. We never got any notice but there was a move in between so maybe it got lost in the mail (giving them the benefit of the doubt). The recalls had limited success it seems as Internet searches indicate that 10’s of thousands of these machines are still out there with this ticking little firebomb in their circuitry.  (So far two Facebook friends have learned they have affected Bosch units in their kitchens so, if you have a Bosch dishwasher, check their web site ASAP.)

I have reached out to Bosch to see what they are prepared to do by way of compensation but I’m not holding my breath. The machine was nearing its end of life and had served us well until this morning, so I expect the standard warranty disclaimer letter in response. Whatever will happen will happen and eventually we’ll acquire a new dishwasher. And the burnt countertop will be a conversation item for the foreseeable future.

But the real lesson here is about attending to operating appliances.

Over the years we have become so habituated to the ubiquitous presence of these labour saving devices that we simply assume they will function, and function correctly and safely, every time we turn them on. We set the dishwasher (or clothes washer, or dryer, or stove …) and then head out, expecting it will go through its normal cycle and then shut down, just like it did the last 1,000 or 2,000 times it was used. Had we done that this morning I would be writing quite a different post about today’s experience, so I think we’ll be doing a lot less of that in the future.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the link. Fortunately, our dishwasher is not on the list. It was such a pain to install that I really didn't want to take it out. I leave things running like that too while out of the house. Maybe I shouldn't anymore...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An experience like this certainly makes you think about it.

      Delete
  2. Good to hear that the damage was limited to the machine and countertop... I am paranoid about electrical stuff, call it childhood trauma, because a washing machine caught fire while I was home alone babysitting my siblings. So, I tend to switch off all the little helpers when leaving the house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's a strategy we're going to try to employ more consistently from now on.

      Delete
  3. Yikes, glad you were home.

    My brother had this happen several years ago, luckily they too were home. This is only the second one I've heard of that has done this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Scary indeed. I know the odds of it happening again are exceedingly low, but it will be a while before I trust the new one and leave it unattended.

      Delete

Please feel free to comment, but any comments with commercial links will be deleted. You have been warned.