KitchenAid tries to burn our house down a second time

From 2016: High-end KitchenAid range with burner stuck on.

It happened again! The burner controls fail such that the gas is stuck on. Fortunately the burner happened to be lit so the house didn’t fill up with unburned gas and explode. It is a challenge pulling the range away from the wall while the burner burns and then turning the shutoff valve. An elderly, frail, or small person would never be able to do this.

After three calls and more than 2 hours on hold, I was able to reach someone at KitchenAid customer service. They would be able to come out and begin the diagnosis process… in 17 days. Would they pay for a new gas valve? “Your range was made in 2013. It’s out of warranty.” Did they think it might be worth looking at the engineering design of the gas valve, e.g., so that it would fail in the “gas off” position rather than the “gas on” position? Wouldn’t that make it less likely to burn houses down? “Did your house actually burn down, sir?”

(If they can’t engineer gas valves that don’t fail after 3-7 years in the ON position, they could put a consumer-accessible gas shutoff valve on the front, just before all of the valves. That would be a huge safety enhancement.)

22 thoughts on “KitchenAid tries to burn our house down a second time

    • I’ve had a KitchenAid dishwasher and stove that both tried to burn my house down. Electronic panel on the front of the dw exploded and caught fire. On the stove(electric), something exploded in the back with enough force and heat to blow through the metal panel and burn the wall behind. No more KA appliances for us, ever.

  1. Where were the valves and controls made in 2013? Where were they engineered? Do they assemble an “American-made” range from parts sourced elsewhere? What’s the model number? Since it’s out of warranty, there’s no downside to taking it apart. I wonder if they’re marked?

  2. There are a few goog search results for stuck stove valves. Can only dream of having a stove that instantly heats up & cools down, which doesn’t cost 20% more rent every year & which is near a job. There must be a system whereby making enough money to own a house requires having enough skill to fix a stove.

  3. The igniter failed recently on our 15 year old Maytag gas cooktop. The part is no longer made or stocked.

    Separately, my other had a Maytag washer that lasted 30 years and a GE electric mixer that lasted 45. Progress.

  4. We switched from a standard electric to a Bosch induction range in our old house and what a revelation that was. The increased speed to boil water, the precise control of temperature, and the ease of cleaning was amazing.

    We since have moved to a new home and have a top of the line Viking gas range. It has been quite a letdown comparatively. While it is much better than the old electric resistive range it simply a technological let down. The amount of wasted heat coming off the burners is incredible. The induction merely heated the pan. The control over the heat is less as you have to eyeball the size of the flame to get the correct setting for simmering. The low temperature setting is not as low as the induction and melting butter or chocolate can be more difficult.

    Finally the clean up is chore. Compare waiting for the cooktop to cool, removing the grids and cleaning them, then wiping the stainless steel cooktop around the burners and then cleaning the burner cap themselves then reassembling the whole contraption to taking a wet dishrag immediately after cooking and wiping up any spills from the completely flat ceramic cooktop. You can use a ceramic cleaner once in a while if you want.

    However you may not want to rely on an electric range given your stories of unreliable electric power in Massachusetts. You will also need to run 220V 30amp circuit to the range for the top end models. We used the smallest Bosch that would work on 115V 20amp but has a reduced max power. Never was a problem for us.

  5. This is the kind of thing that makes me question my preferred strategy of buying top-end products on the principle that they’ll last longer and have lower TCO. Maybe one should buy cheap and just plan to replace in 3 years. But I like my Husqvarna chainsaw way more than anything I could get at Harbor Freight.

    • That certainly used to be a valid strategy. It seems like now, buying high end just means more gadgets/features but still built to be disposable. Especially true for cars; luxury brands aren’t better quality or more reliable than a Toyota Corolla, in fact they are often significantly worse.

  6. My new house came with a gas range, and it’s a chore. The gas utility must have paid the developer. There is a cutoff valve at the meter outside the house. The open flame just seems primitive. I know the restaurants use gas, but see no advantage for a casual chef.

  7. While I had traditionally liked the fine (and instant) cooking temperature adjustable of a gas range, I think it’s almost the same with the previously mentioned inductive stove? I got a chance to (briefly) try one of those at the Boston Center for Adult Ed (before it closed) for a cooking class and it seemed quite good (flat electric range is also good for cleaning, but, yes, you need to wait for it to cool). I still those lovely Calrod burners (I think to replace it and then I think maybe just trash the whole kitchen; so far it’s: do nothing). Anyway, I recently saw this article, so am now reconsidering ever converting to gas:

    • That article reads more like an anti-gas hitpiece than a reasoned presentation of facts from which the reader should draw their own conclusions about the risks of gas.

      But I’m glad to have the choice to keep my natural gas for now, and I’m glad you have the choice to go electric, a freedom the author openly laments.

  8. Move the cutoff valve so that it is accessible through the back of one of the base cabinets flanking the range. This will be less expensive than pulling the appropriate circuit necessary to switch to an electric (induction) range.

    • Mike: Thanks for the idea. It wasn’t that expensive to pull a high-power line for the electric oven part of this fancy KitchenAid “dual fuel” range (there is a subpanel in a different part of the kitchen, actually). Plumbing services in Maskachusetts are not cheap and the house is old so there are a lot of constraints. I just wish that the burner valves wouldn’t stick open. I’ve never heard of an older design gas range with this issue. For $2000+ KitchenAid can’t make a range whose valves are at least safe?

    • I agree that gas valves should last for ever and that any failure mode should close the valve.

      You would also think that a $2,000 range would last longer than 7 years. (Are appliance manufacturers relying on your homeowner’s policy and their liability policy instead of building quality products? It’s not just gas valves, I’ve seen more damaged homes from refrigerator ice makers, dishwasher, washing machines and water heaters than gas stoves. Although the danger to life is far greater with a gas valve failing open.)

      The old thermocouple valves did that. I guess the new electronic ignition ones don’t? I think on mine that there is some sort of thermocouple like device on the igniters. I can turn a burner to low, physically blow it out and the igniters will fire, relighting the burner.

      I’m going through appliance hell with a wall oven that is only 15 years old for which control boards are no longer available.

      Going forward if I were you I would consider upping the amperage on your oven circuit to handle a full induction range or I would ensure that your new gas range has solid brass valves. There is a cut point. Below that point the gas valves have aluminum bodies, above the cut point the valves are brass.

      I don’t know what will cost more, an induction range or a dual fuel range that has brass valves.

  9. In light of my comment above about damage to homes from refrigerators and dishwashers, etc…

    If you have braided steel or plastic supply lines from your cutoff valves to your toilets, refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, etc… Develop a schedule to replace them all. They wear out and will most likely break when you are on vacation. You will receive a phone call from you neighbor informing you that there is water running out from under your front door while you are next in Disney World.

    If you don’t have newish quarter turn cutoff valves, replace those too.

    • @Mike: Good advice. Happened to me last year. I’m sitting downstairs and I hear what sounds like rain outside. For a couple of minutes I don’t look, then peer outside. It’s not raining outside the house. It’s raining INSIDE the house. Plastic line from valve to tank on upstairs toilet broke after 20+ years.

    • @Mike: Also, all replacement lines are not created equal. I would tend to replace plastic with braided stainless, but inspect the choices from end to end. “Buy from a good manufacturer” is more fraught with peril now than ever before, I think. Find out what an experienced builder/plumber recommends.

    • An experienced plumber recommends the cheapest one possible. Spending more just affects their margin for the job. It just needs to not be leaking when he leaves, maybe a few months to be safe. Then if it falls, it’s another service call.

  10. Irrespective of the manufacturer/model of the gas appliances, every home with gas service should have a readily accessible (in plain sight and informed/known to every adult family member) shutoff valve outside the home, usually where the gas line enters the home. Mike’s idea about a shutoff in an adjacent cabinet is better than behind the appliance, but located there it is concealed, and would be in violation of some applicable codes. BTW we have a fairly new Bosch dual fuel range that we like and is working OK so far ….

  11. If your kitchen had burned up you would have had a solid product-liability claim for all the damages. I don’t know whether MA has any “statute of repose”[1] applicable to gas stoves, but apart from that, the duration of a warranty no bearing on a manufacturer’s responsibility for safety-related engineering and construction. The useful life of a kitchen stove is decades, not a few years.

    You may have a valuable product-liability claim even now. You are on practical notice that the stove cannot be trusted to operate safely, so you are entitled to some measure of its remaining value. Presumably the market price of stoves like yours is depressed because they are defective. Kitchen Aid should pay you the value of a non-defective used stove plus your incidental costs to obtain and install a replacement and have the old one safely disposed-of.

  12. Oops, meant to add footnote [1] You may be familiar with statutes of repose for airplane-related product liability claims; Congress had to enact one because people were suing Cessna or whoever over problems with 50-year-old light aircraft.

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