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View Full Version : Whoah! This Just Scared the <stuff> Out of Me!!



Krevel
2005-Jan-15, 02:59 PM
This just happened moments ago while I was browsing this site:

I'm getting ready to make some French - errr, I mean, Freedom - Toast. So I'm warming up the syrup on the stove (electric). I put the the syrup (opened) in a pan of water and put the pan on the burner at medium high.

So I'm just sitting here at the computer, and I hear this big "POW" from the stove. I look up and there are sparks flying everywhere!! I run over to the stove, and see water coming out of the bottom of the pan. Looking at the bottom of the pan, THERE'S A HOLE (about 3/8") BURNED RIGHT THROUGH THE PAN!!! The burner, too, has a chunk out of it.

Now, this is a pretty heavy duty, stainless steel pan by Oneida. Also, the breaker for the stove didn't even trip. I've never heard of such a thing, and surely never experienced it. Freaky!!

Any theories on what could have caused this? Obviously, some sort of arc. Maybe a crack in the element? Flaw in the pan?

jrkeller
2005-Jan-15, 03:25 PM
Link Please

Krevel
2005-Jan-15, 03:38 PM
Link? To what?

This happened to me, personally. While I was browsing THIS site. The BABB.

papageno
2005-Jan-15, 03:48 PM
If it was not a small meteorite (any holes in walls or ceiling?), maybe it was some short in the heating element of the stove (but that should have tripped the breaker).

Where is JayUtah when you need him?

Colt
2005-Jan-15, 04:01 PM
What kind of pan was it? Stainless steel, castiron ? I really can't think of anything that might have caused that to be honest... That can happen when a HUGE amount of energy is bridged at once and it essentially vaporizes the metal (spark plug)... But I don't think a household stove can do that. Have you checked around for the missing pieces of metal? What do the edges of the holes look like? Both the one through the pan and the stove elemant. What about the stove under the heating elemant? Is the pan blackened around the hole? :-?


Oh yeah, what's your recipe for French Toast?

jrkeller
2005-Jan-15, 04:09 PM
Link? To what?

This happened to me, personally. While I was browsing THIS site. The BABB.

I get it now.

Sometimes the heating coils get a short in them and that produces a very hot spot. I saw that happen in my electric oven once. If you saw it, it would glow at a much brighter color red, closer to orange.

zebo-the-fat
2005-Jan-15, 04:33 PM
Don't worry, it's was just a flash in the pan! :D

Colt
2005-Jan-15, 04:34 PM
Har har. Better than long hangfire. ;)

Amadeus
2005-Jan-15, 04:58 PM
Slightly off topic but when I was a kid I was sitting in the living room in front of an electric bar fire when suddenly it started shooting sparks out from the front of it :o

It was only by quick thinking that I ran to the socket and pulled the plug that avoided a major fire. Never used one since.

Musashi
2005-Jan-15, 06:06 PM
What kind of pan was it? Stainless steel, castiron ? I really can't think of anything that might have caused that to be honest... That can happen when a HUGE amount of energy is bridged at once and it essentially vaporizes the metal (spark plug)... But I don't think a household stove can do that. Have you checked around for the missing pieces of metal? What do the edges of the holes look like? Both the one through the pan and the stove elemant. What about the stove under the heating elemant? Is the pan blackened around the hole? :-?


Oh yeah, what's your recipe for French Toast?

Oh yeah, it doesn't take more than household levels to vaporize metal. I have experienced this on a semio-regular basis with both 110 on a 15-amp circuit all the way up to 220 across the sevice bus. It sounds to me like an electrical short across the pan and heater. Stoves usually have a pretty high breaker, so the momentary jolt probably wasn't enough to trip it. I would love to see pictures of the pieces involved. I will try an get some of my pictures up that show my tools after coming into contact with live wires.

Fortis
2005-Jan-15, 07:31 PM
I've had the heating element on an electric cooker do this to me. It left a lovely hole in the heating element, with a little ball of metal nearby. (Another bad thing that can happen is when the automatic off switch on our electric kettle fails. That can cause a bit of a mess if you've wandered off to do something while the kettle boils. :o )

beskeptical
2005-Jan-15, 07:37 PM
My totally uneducated guess (well maybe not totally, but if I have some big concept wrong here it will be clear I don't know what I'm talking about) is the heating element cracked and allowed an electrical charge to pass from the element to the pan.

My uniformed speculative thoughts: the heat is from electricity but one does not get electrical shock from burners. So there is something insulating the charge from the metal that is heating. That insulation failed.

Like I said, it is an uninformed guess. Now I'll go see what I can find on how burners are heated without transferring electrical shock. #-o

Krevel
2005-Jan-15, 07:38 PM
I'm guessing that there was some sort of crack in the coating on the heating element, which appears to be a type of ceramic. Oddly, the burner still comes on, although the inside, which glows white hot, is now visible. Guess I'll be looking for a new heating element.

What's odd is that all those sparks flew out through the water that was in the pan! I couldn't find any metal pieces, but my down jacket, which was hanging on the back of a chair nearby, has a tiny burn hole in the nylon.

I guess it's not so strange that the breaker didn't trip. The wiring (220 volt) is the same as would be used for an arc welder. The burn in the pan looks like it was made by an arc weld.

What a way to start the morning! I guess I'm lucky that I was just heating the syrup and hadn't yet started making the French toast - otherwise the whole thing would have gone up right in my face! Saved by the BABB!!

jami cat
2005-Jan-15, 07:40 PM
This happens if your pan is in contact with the surface of the stove top and the element at the same time creating a short. It's supposed to throw the breaker, unless the ground isn't secure.

I've had arcs on the stove when someone puts aluminum foil in the pots under the burners. After some time heating the foil. It will break apart and rise up towards the element. Then fireworks. :o

Oh yea, fractures in the element can cause anomolies.

kleindoofy
2005-Jan-15, 07:53 PM
Considering what you were doing when it happened, i.e. reading this site, perhaps it was the revenge of the slighted Zetans and yet another sign that the earths poles are about to physically shift. :roll:

But then again, maybe not. I think I've been reading this site too much. #-o

The scientist in me says: buy a new stove, a new pan, and a new can of syrup, then repeat the experiment, this time observing what happens. Please keep us informed, we'll all be waiting. :wink:

frogesque
2005-Jan-15, 08:36 PM
another possibility, if the pan base was a composite, Stainless steel/copper or aluminium. If you get a pinhole through the S/S (salt is notorious for doing just that) you could have had water seep into the composite join, heat pan and you then get a superheated steam explosion which will wreck the hob without tripping the current.

Does the pan base itself look as if it's exploded and delaminated?

zebo-the-fat
2005-Jan-15, 08:42 PM
It could be caused by a few micrograms of Antimatter in the pan caused by random events in the quantum foam in your small part of the universe :D

frogesque
2005-Jan-15, 09:05 PM
It could be caused by a few micrograms of Antimatter in the pan caused by random events in the quantum foam in your small part of the universe :D

No way! He was on BAB at the time - it's a result of a BA thought experiment ;)

Donnie B.
2005-Jan-15, 09:52 PM
This happens if your pan is in contact with the surface of the stove top and the element at the same time creating a short. It's supposed to throw the breaker, unless the ground isn't secure.
If you're claiming what I think you are, you're wrong. It would be absurdly dangerous if it were true - you could be electrocuted by touching a live burner, even if it hadn't heated up yet and didn't burn you.

Stovetop (and oven) heating elements are electrically insulated, unless seriously damaged. You cannot be electrocuted by a stove burner, and you can't cause a short by bridging between the element and other metal parts of a stove.

beskeptical
2005-Jan-16, 03:08 AM
This happens if your pan is in contact with the surface of the stove top and the element at the same time creating a short. It's supposed to throw the breaker, unless the ground isn't secure.

I've had arcs on the stove when someone puts aluminum foil in the pots under the burners. After some time heating the foil. It will break apart and rise up towards the element. Then fireworks. :o

Oh yea, fractures in the element can cause anomolies.Huh? Are you saying electric burners short circuit if you touch them with grounded metal? I don't think so. There'd be electrocutions every time you burned your finger on the burner while standing on a wet floor with bare feet. While that may not be a common occurrence, if it happened to anyone it would be well known.

beskeptical
2005-Jan-16, 03:09 AM
This happens if your pan is in contact with the surface of the stove top and the element at the same time creating a short. It's supposed to throw the breaker, unless the ground isn't secure.
If you're claiming what I think you are, you're wrong. It would be absurdly dangerous if it were true - you could be electrocuted by touching a live burner, even if it hadn't heated up yet and didn't burn you.

Stovetop (and oven) heating elements are electrically insulated, unless seriously damaged. You cannot be electrocuted by a stove burner, and you can't cause a short by bridging between the element and other metal parts of a stove.I always post before I read that someone already said it. :oops:

beskeptical
2005-Jan-16, 03:19 AM
OK, I went to review the obvious so you smarty pants out there just hush. :P Unless I have it wrong here, then chime away.

The burner elements get hot because they are resistant to the current. So they aren't insulated with materials containing air gaps and what not that prevent electrical transmission completely. But they are made of materials that allow highly resisted current to pass through.

That is, enough current to heat up but not enough to conduct electricity to another body it contacts.

So my gut explanation was correct. The element broke in some way that allowed a 220 spark.

BTW, I've replaced burner elements before. It couldn't be easier. Lift up the stove top and the burner element unplugs. Go to the hardware store, buy new element, go home and plug it in. Don't call the electrician.

Musashi
2005-Jan-16, 04:07 AM
The coating on the burner is most likely not electrically conductive in any sense that matters. Or I should say, while it may be electrically conductive, the surface is not conducting electricity from the stove. I am guessing that over time through normal wear and abuse, the insides of the element were exposed, perhaps in several places. Electricity will take the path of least resistance, which is more likely the pan than the resistance-heavy element, so it tried to take a shortcut.

jami cat
2005-Jan-16, 04:21 AM
Huh? Are you saying electric burners short circuit if you touch them with grounded metal? I don't think so. There'd be electrocutions every time you burned your finger on the burner while standing on a wet floor with bare feet. While that may not be a common occurrence, if it happened to anyone it would be well known.

Thats funny "I knew that". :oops:
I was just interpreting what I saw when it happened to me without digging deeper into it.
I just happened to have the burner still on the stove that shorted with the foil that was left over from who lived here before. It has a big "hole" in the coil underneath. (I never used it afterwards.)

I used my volt meter and tested the burners and to the ground. No response. Because they aren't electrified, but it's a wire inside them that is. When it blew a hole on the outside for some reason, something touched the wire or created a connection in a broken wire or grounded it, causing a spark.
I guess it's like a filiment in a lightbulb. I vaguly remember breaking one of these apart when I was a kid and saw this.

I guess if the burner has a hairline fracture and you spill water on it, thus conducting to something touching the ground, it will spark and blow the burner.

I'm a welder and it does look similar to a cutting torch type hole, on my burner. Same thing in a water heater, when the filaments fry.

Don't touch the coils in the toaster when it's on then. :o

Wally
2005-Jan-17, 01:43 PM
the big question here, Krevel, is why in the heck are you still heating syrup this way to begin with??? [-(

I've got two words to say to you. Micro Wave!

Let me guess. . . you don't trust "newer" technologies??? :lol:

Krevel
2005-Jan-17, 04:07 PM
the big question here, Krevel, is why in the heck are you still heating syrup this way to begin with??? [-(

I've got two words to say to you. Micro Wave!

Let me guess. . . you don't trust "newer" technologies??? :lol:


Quite simple, Wally; the syrup bottle is too tall to fit in the microwave!

As a side note, my friend who makes the syrup has introduced me to a new cocktail he calls a "Stump-puller". It's gin or white rum (my favorite) with lemonade and a touch of maple syrup. Mmmmmm...

Gillianren
2005-Jan-18, 12:04 AM
I have nothing to contribute to the discussion of how it happened, but let me tell you how to make really good French toast.

put about a tablespoon of flour, a little cinnamon, and a little vanilla into the egg/milk mix. the flour is how IHOP does it, apparently, and it give it that lovely crepe-like finish, and the vanilla and cinnamon make it just taste better. oh . . . such good stuff.

RaptorBpW
2005-Jan-18, 07:37 AM
This happened to my mom. She was cooking on the electric stove, when suddenly there was a loud pop and sparks exploded from the coils. Insert standard electic zapping sounds here. Breaker didn't trip. She managed to shut off the stove before. Thankfully she wasn't hurt at all, though she was understandably shaken.

We pulled the coil out to inspect it. The metal elements which connected it to the plug or outlet in the stove were completely burned away. I'm talking down to ash. Just gone, and the stovetop was scorched.

Had to be a short, I guess. But again, the breaker didn't trip. Crazy.

My dad produced an hypothesis that perhaps a piece of metal, like aluminum foil, and gotten caught in the plug, during cleaning, and had caused the short.

Not a hypothesis we planned on testing, believe me.

swordwhale
2015-Feb-10, 06:20 PM
This just happened moments ago while I was browsing this site:

I'm getting ready to make some French - errr, I mean, Freedom - Toast. So I'm warming up the syrup on the stove (electric). I put the the syrup (opened) in a pan of water and put the pan on the burner at medium high.

So I'm just sitting here at the computer, and I hear this big "POW" from the stove. I look up and there are sparks flying everywhere!! I run over to the stove, and see water coming out of the bottom of the pan. Looking at the bottom of the pan, THERE'S A HOLE (about 3/8") BURNED RIGHT THROUGH THE PAN!!! The burner, too, has a chunk out of it.

Now, this is a pretty heavy duty, stainless steel pan by Oneida. Also, the breaker for the stove didn't even trip. I've never heard of such a thing, and surely never experienced it. Freaky!!

Any theories on what could have caused this? Obviously, some sort of arc. Maybe a crack in the element? Flaw in the pan?


I want to know any theories as fast as possible because THIS JUST HAPPENED TO ME TOO!!!!

Big stainless steel pot (about 1 gallon) of good quality and long use. Burner that had been working and not working randomly (seating issues? short circuit?) boiling water (leak? moisture on/in/around burner???)... KAPOW! Pot jumped a little. Noted water in pan under burner (the pan that collects spills), removed pan to find small hole in bottom as if Thor had unleashed his Mighty Bolt (OK, the action figure sized Thor, the hole was about big enough to stick the pointy end of a pencil in) and a matching hole in the burner. Both surrounded by meltage, burnage and blackenage... as if, perhaps, a small bolt of light...eh...electricity had emerged from the burner and blasted the pot.

I don't need special effects in my kitchen, the burner has been removed. But I wonder what caused it and if that burner can be replaced and be reused or if I need to call a professional (not likely on my budget)???? The other burners seem to be fine.... so far.... :eek:

BigDon
2015-Feb-11, 09:58 PM
I've seen this a few times.

One way to cause it is to put a pot of very cold water onto a red hot element. An element several years old will crack. Once the element cracks under use, with current flowing through it, you get the result you mention.

Gillianren
2015-Feb-11, 10:34 PM
Impressive. This thread is ten years old and logically contains one of my first posts. Also my French toast recipe. Which I would update to say that I now mostly make French toast using the cinnamon bread sold by Wagner's Bakery from downtown Olympia.

BigDon
2015-Feb-11, 10:41 PM
Hey Miss G!

Yeah, I saw the age too but figured the new guy still needed his question responded to.

Trebuchet
2015-Feb-11, 11:30 PM
I mostly know the current crop of celebs only by their first names, from standing in line at the checkout stand. I'm a little bit more aware of Kim because she keeps showing up on the photoshop disasters site I read.

Jim
2015-Feb-12, 01:50 AM
I think Treb posted to the wrong thread.

BigDon
2015-Feb-12, 03:45 AM
Treb!

It was supposed to be the other way around! Three pink pills and ONE blue one!

Noclevername
2015-Feb-12, 05:44 AM
I mostly know the current crop of celebs only by their first names, from standing in line at the checkout stand. I'm a little bit more aware of Kim because she keeps showing up on the photoshop disasters site I read.


I think Treb posted to the wrong thread.

No, this could still work!

Reality stars scare the stuff out of me... if the "Stuff" in question is boredom.

Trebuchet
2015-Feb-12, 04:19 PM
I think Treb posted to the wrong thread.

Maybe, but then again....


Treb!

It was supposed to be the other way around! Three pink pills and ONE blue one!


No, this could still work!

Reality stars scare the stuff out of me... if the "Stuff" in question is boredom.

:rofl: