Woman's stove knobs get too hot to touch

February 4, 2013 6:53:32 PM PST
A San Francisco woman tells 7 On Your Side that her gas range runs so hot, she's afraid the knobs on her stove could burn her.

We have been investigating this for several months and have checked around and couldn't find any service people who have ever heard of this happening, but this woman insists this is a stove that is simply too hot to handle.

San Francisco resident Adriana Iglesias pops her meatballs into her oven. There's nothing unusual about that, except for what happens next.

"When I started baking, the knobs started getting really hot," said Iglesias.

The knobs get even hotter, when she bakes and cooks on the stove top at the same time.

"It is dangerous, especially for my son because he likes to cook. But I won't let him near the stove," said Iglesias.

Iglesias says the knobs get so hot, she has to use a towel to protect her hand. Her unit is made by Electrolux -- the world's second largest manufacturer of home appliances. The company has sent out service techs to Iglesias' home six times.

"The techs were telling me that the oven releases its heat through these slates right here and they come up and hit the knobs," said Iglesias.

Each time the techs told her the stove didn't get hot enough to be of any danger to her. So she called 7 On Your Side. We used an infrared thermometer to find out just how hot the stove really gets. You simply beam an infrared light at whatever you want to measure and the device gives you a temperature reading. One knob registered 117 degrees, another 127 degrees, a third 108, and the fourth 117. A fifth knob topped at 140-141 degrees.

"I'm actually really surprised. I really didn't think it was that hot. I knew it was hot, but I didn't think it was past 100 degrees. So that's kind of scary," said Iglesias.

We took our findings to Jeffrey Deweese, M.D., medical director of Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco.

"I would say anything above 120 degrees Fahrenheit could potentially cause a burn," said Deweese. He suggested Iglesias replace the knobs or get a new stove "because that's not safe above 140, certainly, maybe even lower than that."

We contacted Electrolux and it agreed to send her a new stove. Four weeks later, we paid Iglesias another visit.

"I was really happy because I tried it for the first 20 minutes and it seemed like the knobs were OK, but now I tried it again for 45 minutes to an hour and a half and the knob is hot again, so I'm not sure," said Iglesias.

She asked Electrolux to refund her money. The company refused, insisting again that the stove is safe. They pointed to an industry wide standard set by the Canadian Safety Association. Under that standard, metal knobs should get no hotter than 130 degrees.

But since Electrolux' knobs have a plastic coating, the company says the maximum allowable temperature is 167 degrees. Electrolux sent this statement to 7 On Your Side: "We believe our product is working in accordance with our safety feature and the Canadian Safety Association standard regulation. In addition to the new stove that we have already provided Ms. Iglesias, we have non-metal knobs we can provide at no charge."

Iglesias has agreed to take the knobs and they are expected to arrive sometime this week. Meantime, we checked in with the Canadian Safety Association, but due to a staffing situation, they were unable to confirm at this time that adding a plastic coating to the knobs increases the allowable temperature to 167 degrees. We'll keep checking back on this story.

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