June 18, 2018
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Case of the exploding stove

By Emmet Meara, Special to the BDN

I believe that General Electric has declared war on Cobb Manor.

I have never heard of an electric range exploding without provocation. Mine has, twice, in a few months.

Several months ago, I was doing one of my most outstanding culinary tricks, boiling water for spaghetti. I was gazing absentmindedly at the boiling water when a white light appeared. I, of course, thought it was the intro to the Angel of Death, coming to say hello.

No, it was beloved T-Fal pan, leaking water onto the burner because it had a bullet hole in the bottom. The stove burner had developed a hot spot, hot enough to burn a perfect hole through the bottom of the pan.

I had never heard of such a thing.

I brought the shattered and charred burner to the local stove business and got a new one.

“I have heard of that happening,” said the clerk as he took $50 for the new burner. “But not very often.”

I installed the $50 replacement only to find out that the spaghetti light show had destroyed the inside of the stove and the new one did not work.

A normal person might have thought that it was time to have an electrician examine the stove for possible problems. I mean, I have had a dozen electric stoves in my life, some quite ancient, and I have never seen the General Electric laser show before.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving. The stove was roaring away on all three burners when a hand grenade went off. Well, it looked like a hand grenade. A ball of flame exploded from the burner, cooking the gravy more than any mortal would like. The pan, a brand new guy, will never be the same, either. No hole this time, just a lifetime charring. Happy holidays. Only at Cobb Manor.

I couldn’t say I never heard of such a thing, not this time.

There was only one thing to do.

Go on the Internet.

I didn’t know that Redbook Magazine still existed. But there on their website was my new friend, Melanie. She had taken enemy fire while boiling water, too.

Pay attention.

“The other night, Rich and I were having a nice pre-dinner chat. I was at the electric stove, with sausages on the front left burner, a pot of boiling pasta behind it, and simmering tomato sauce on the front right burner. I turned my back to the stove for one second to tell Rich something, and he yelled, ‘Get back!’ I whirled around to the stove and saw sparks shooting from the back left burner, high into the air and onto the stovetop and the floor. (The dog) and I fled, just as flames started to emerge from the coil… it was like 4th of July in my kitchen.

“‘Oh, my God!’ I screamed for what was easily the 27th time,” Melanie said.

See? It’s not just me.

I continued my scholarly research on Yahoo.com. On their “Best Answer” section, it was reported that, “It is common to have elements fail in both the oven and on the surface. Most times they just burn out but sometimes the inner element will touch the outer shell causing a short and the resulting ‘explosion’. This will happen with new and old ranges so it really has nothing to do with the age of the stove.”

I never knew that. Now, I look upon my black General Electric stove as something out of a Stephen King novel. Sort of a “Christine” with an oven.

I continued my research at Home Depot where the cooperative clerk said that she has heard of exploding stove burners, “but not a whole lot.”

Sure, she had a new GE stove, just like my exploding model. It cost only $1,400.

“Prices have gone up since you bought that one,” she explained.

Great. I haven’t even started paying for the electric water heater which blew last week. Maybe Central Maine Power is at war with me as well.

Happy Holidays… and be careful boiling that spaghetti water. It could be dangerous.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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