I-Team: Dishwasher Fires Catch Homeowners Off Guard

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve

BOSTON (CBS) – Of all the potential dangers in your home, few would put their dishwasher on the list.

But hundreds of people, many here in Massachusetts, say their dishwashers could have killed them.

Home alone for the weekend, Maryellen Guditz was startled by a strange sound coming from under her counter.

“It was a bursting sound, a loud sppppssshhh, I remember thinking to myself that didn’t sound good.”

And it wasn’t good, something was seriously wrong with her KitchenAid dishwasher.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

Maryellen says, “I found flames coming out, shooting out from the top of the dishwasher and the side of the dishwasher!”

Dave Waller of Malden was cleaning up after dinner when he too saw flames shooting from his dishwasher.

“It was more like a blow torch, a concentrated jet of flames!”

“I just thanked my lucky stars my house didn’t burn down.”

Both Dave and Maryellen found out the fire started in the circuit board inside the control panel. The charred evidence hangs from the appliance in Maryellen’s Acton home.

Shortsleeve asked her, “What were you thinking?”

“I was very scared… scared to death as a matter of fact!”

Ralph Harriman teaches appliance repair at the Bay State School of Technology. He is guessing that the interior control board somehow got wet.

Shortsleeve asked, “If moisture got in, how would that cause a fire?”

“That would become a short circuit. If the board is not protected then moisture and electricity could cause a spark.”

Dave and Maryellen are just two of hundreds of complaints posted online at www.kitchenaidfire.com.

It is a web site started by an angry homeowner.

One woman says her house still smells of burnt plastic days later. A St. Louis man claims the fire in his dishwasher caused $100,000 in damage.

Despite the long list of complaints, there has been no recall or warning from the consumer product safety commission.

When WBZ-TV asked why, a representative refused to even confirm if they were looking into the reports.

KitchenAid’s parent company, Whirlpool, sent us a statement.

“Our safety engineers investigate and analyze any and all safety concerns reported by our consumers. If a product quality or safety issue is identified, we move swiftly and with urgency to correct the issue.”

But Maryellen isn’t buying that.

She says when she called KitchenAid, the company first denied knowing anything about this problem.

She called the company rep back the next day with a specific question.

She asked, “Did you know about kitchenaidfire.com and he said ‘yes’ so, he obviously lied to me.”

She believes the company is not taking the danger seriously.

“I could just see my house going up in flames!”

“I might have died!”

There have been no reports of injuries as a result of these fires.

The I-Team has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to try to find out what, if anything, they are doing about this.

Whirlpool encourages consumers to contact them if they experience any difficulty with their products at 800-422-1230.

  • Carole Gibbs

    I too have tons of complaints with my KitcheAid appliances. My latest conversation was regarding visible rust on the outer door of my dishwasher. I was told “That’s not even covered under the 1 year warranty”. There is nothing they will do! The first year I owned my appliances I had the dishwasher repaired because the gasket went hard and caused it to leak. Thre refrigerator had a new thermostat, the microwave was repaired twice due to a blown fuse and my gas cook top had all cracks under the ename. As far as i’m concerned it’s expensive junk and they will do nothing to appease!

  • Mark & Steph

    I just watched the news on the dishwashers tonight. I have a MAYTAG made by WHIRLPOOL. My dishwasher just a year old approx 12days over waranty (and cost over 400 dollars)caught on fire also last week. I just repaired it myself on Tuesday November 8. It was the same the electronic control board caught on fire. There is a Thermal fuse before the control board to prevent the board to catch fire and it failed! I tested the fuse doing a OHMS test and its still works! I bought a new control board and fuse and installed it. The Dishwasher is working but now I am concerned if the problem is fixed.. I guess i wont run it when I go to bed anymore!!! I did also call the Manufacturer last week and the told me that they never had a problem like this in the past! I called concerned that it could happen to some else! I kept the old parts and have plenty of pictures. It cost 137 dollars to fix it for now. MODEL NUMBER MDBH969AWW1

    • gramps

      You’ve been lied to…Here’s two separate admissions, 9 years apart!


      June 3, 2010
      Maytag Recalls Dishwashers Due to Fire Hazard
      BENTON HARBOR, Mich., June 3, 2010 – Maytag Corporation, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), today announced a voluntary recall of 1.7 million Maytag®, Jenn-Air®, Amana®, Admiral®, Magic Chef®, Performa by Maytag® and Crosley® brand dishwashers.
      An electrical failure in the dishwasher’s heating element can pose a serious fire hazard. Maytag has received 12 reports of dishwasher heating element failures that resulted in fires and dishwasher damage, including one report of extensive kitchen damage from a fire. No injuries have been reported.
      The affected units were sold at department and appliance stores and by homebuilders nationwide from February 2006 through April 2010 for between $250 and $900.
      Consumers should contact Maytag Corporation toll-free at 1-800-544-5513 anytime, or visit the Web site at http://www.repair.maytag.com to determine if their dishwasher is affected by this recall.
      Consumers may obtain a copy of the entire CPSC press release at http://www.cpsc.gov.
      About Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR)
      Whirlpool Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of approximately $17 billion in 2009, 67,000 employees, and 67 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world. Additional information


      Whirlpool incurred additional extraordinary expenses from two recalls. Certain dishwasher models were recalled in 2000 because some had been catching fire. Then in October 2001 Whirlpool issued the largest recall in its history. Some 1.8 million microwave ovens were recalled because they could catch fire. Whirlpool set aside $300 million to handle the problem.



  • Michael.

    Kitchen Aid dishwashers are a piece of junk.They do not last as long as
    GE,Kenmore,Bosch,and what have you.
    Frigidare makes very good ones.They were once a subsidiary of General Motors
    years ago.
    Don’t buy Kitchen Aid,they do not last as long as the other brands i have listed.These ones last a very long time.Thanks.

  • JohnC

    We have a Kitchen-Aid dishwasher which replaced our previous very old faithful Kitchen-Aid. An independent service contractor told us that Kitchen-Aid, once the consumer brand of Hobart, used to be very good. He went on to say that basically all of the present popularly-priced dishwashers are junk. He recommended the middle-price Kitchen-Aid dishwasher that we bought, and told us to purchase the service contract. He said we would use it. So far our two-year old Kitchen-Aid dishwasher is working fine. No complaints. Yet.

  • njuguna muigai

    Home appliances sellers including dishwashers washers & driers should show buyers how to use these machines since they can all cause fire

  • Cis

    i think you’re all missing the point . . . . .any brand has the potential to short circuit causing a fire, buy and learn how to use a kitchen fire extinguisher, learn how to shut off the electricity/circuit breaker, never run appliances when no one is home.

    • Audrey

      I own one of the dishwashers that went up in flames. I run my refrigerator when no one is home; would you include this in your blanket statement? You expect, no demand, a certain degree of safety from a product. Normal use and wear should never cause a product to malfunction to the point that consumer safety is in jeopardy. If you’ve done some research, you would know that in certain Whirlpool models this is a persistent problem. I’m glad that someone has brought this to the public’s attention, and I thank WBZ-TV for informing consumers about the danger.

  • Jeanne

    I am having the same problem with the control board on a Kitchen Aid product, but it is my double oven…..not dishwasher. The control panel has been replaced 3 times, but the oven still turns itself on at random and pops the circuit breaker. Not good. When I spoke with the safety department at Kitchen Aid, I was told that “the oven could run for a week without a safety problem, because there is a switch to prevent issues like that”. Perfect.

  • http://mywasherdryerrepair.com washer repair whirlpool

    I am impressed by the quality of information on this blog. There are a lot of good resources here. I am sure I will visit this place again soon.

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