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Can Refrigerators Catch on Fire?

Refrigerator Compressor Hot

Electrical fires, including appliances catching fire, are some of the most common causes of house fires.

It’s normal to be worried about your appliances catching fire, including your refrigerator. As refrigerators are constantly running and, as a result, overheat more. If your fridge feels hot to the touch, it’s understandable that you’ll worry about your appliance catching fire.

Luckily, refrigerators catching on fire is rare, but it can happen. This article will cover things to be aware of to avoid your fridge catching fire.


Can Refrigerators Catch on Fire?

Unfortunately, fridges can catch on fire. Usually, fridge fires happen due to electric failures or sparks from the interior lightbulb. Fridge fires can be dangerous because, as they burn, they emit toxic gases. 

Luckily, fridge fires are rare, but you want to prepare for what to do in an emergency.

Reasons Refrigerators Could Catch Fire

Refrigerators rely on a network of complex parts to operate. A severe electrical failure is the most common cause of refrigerator fires because electrical parts are flammable when damaged. Sometimes the cause of a refrigerator fire is more mundane, like a light bulb staying on when the door is closed and overheating. 

The following are some of the most common causes of refrigerator fires. By staying aware of these fire hazards and conducting regular maintenance, you can hopefully avoid refrigerator fires in your kitchen.

Compressor Overheating

The compressor is one of your fridge’s most complex and important parts because it helps send refrigerant through the appliance. When it overheats, it could lead to several problems for your fridge, including a fire.

Firstly, make sure that the compressor is ventilated. Additionally, clean any dust from around the compressor and condenser coils, which must work correctly to keep the compressor running. Some prevention can hopefully prevent a fire.

Cyclopentane Flammability

Cyclopentane, or C5/C-pentane, is a hydrocarbon. It is a popular component in the polyurethane foams that insulate fridges and freezers because it doesn’t contain harmful hydrofluorocarbons that damage the ozone layer. However, the downside is that cyclopentane is a highly flammable gas.

Before you panic about your fridge containing a flammable ingredient, don’t worry—cyclopentane is not dangerous. However, you should conduct regular maintenance such as cleaning dust and checking bulbs to prevent sparks from catching because cyclopentane will make your fridge very flammable.

Capacitor Failure

The capacitor is a part at the bottom of your appliance that stores and redirects electrical energy to your compressor. Because so much electricity passes through it, the capacitor is a common cause of fridge fires due to electrical failure. If your capacitor fails in any way, it will cause a fire.

Some of the most common causes of capacitor failure are overheating and high voltage. Capacitors are more likely to fail if they are old, damaged, or poorly installed, so if your fridge shows signs of wearing down, it’s time to replace it.

Isobutane (R600a) Refrigerant

Isobutane is one of the most common refrigerants in modern refrigerators because it does not emit harmful gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect or ozone depletion. However, it is highly flammable.

Isobutane is mostly safely contained within your refrigerator. However, if you notice seals around the refrigerant wearing down, turn off your fridge, ventilate your home, and call a technician immediately. You can avoid degrading the seals and potentially activating the refrigerant by not putting candles or lamps near the fridge, as the heat could spark the refrigerant.


Refrigerator fires are rare but one you should still be aware of. The most common causes of fridge fires are electrical or mechanical failures such as capacitors breaking down or compressors overheating. 

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