Wow, I can't imagine how that kind of flaw would've gotten past the company. Good that you discovered it before anything bad happened. Might it have caused an electrical fire? I hope they recalled any products with similar problems!
These kind of defects in big box appliances seem to be showing up in Made by Monkeys more often these days. A number of people pinpoint the decline in appliance dependability to the beginning of outsourcing.
I know, Ann! It really makes you wonder what's going on. It's a shame if people have to start worrying about the safety of their appliances from top brands, especially if historically everything was OK.
Ann, the point is not how this got past QA, the question is how did this get past UL, or CE, or TUV, or GS, or ETL, or whichever regulatory standard the product was supposed to live up to. Did it have a regulatory lab approval? How many of us look for one when choosing an appliance?.
Yes, Rob, as we've seen in Made by Monkeys, readers are also citing Maytag appliances, which were once the gold standard of appliance reliability. It looks like these quality problems are appearing in more and more brand names.
That's unfortunately true, Rob. If I look back at my mother's old gas range, made by a company called Chambers, reliability problems were virtually non-existent. The same cannot be said, however, for today's electronics-laden appliances.
Major brands once built brand equity and loyalty through the design and manufacture of sturdy, reliable, highly functional products. And then the companies behind the brands succumbed to cheap competition or their own cost cutting measurs -- chasing shareholder value. The result is that once reputable brands have been sold to immediately 'monetize' brand equity, and the products now producd with that badge have no connection to the company or culture that made them great. Many consumers don't know that, or believe somehow it's still a great brand, and they buy junk with the old brand badge.
I would also point out Rob that , in general, the many commenters here tend to be a DIY type. Or at least they pay attention if the repair guy is called in. So the Made by Monkeys reading is informative to our engineering sense of reliability. In other words, we like to kill the issue and know we improved our stuff!
However, I think the general public does not pay close attention. If it is cheap, they can purchase optional extended warranty, and the appliance looks good, they contiue to buy and any issues with the previous appliance is forgotten by weeks end. How many times have you heard someone say, "Well it was old anyway and I really wanted a (pick your color) one!"
The extended warranty type programs from both the appliance makers or the big box stores extracts additional money from the consumer. The economics is such that they can afford to cut costs on the appliances. They have a business model that brings additional money in the form of an extended warranty. If this was not profitable, they would not offer it (or increase the price for it)!
I will say in this particular case, I think the potential for lawsuit is high and Jenn-Air should think about the costs!
Thanks GTOlover. One of the patterns I'm seeing is that they discard their older white box appliance that has worked great for 25 years -- all mechanical, no electronics -- in favor of a preferred color and the electronics whiz. And of course, the new one fails.
I was shopping for a new, higher-end range and the saleswoman in a big box store was surprisingly savvy and helpful. She steered me away from Jenn-Air, and showed me why (they carried the brand). The front-mounted control panel was semi-rigid plastic. The first time boiling water or hot grease spills on the panel, guess what happens? I purchased a similar range from GE with a glass touch panel. Hopefully Jenn-Air has corrected this. The engineer or accountant who chose plastic must never have used a cooktop!
There are a few plastics that would serve quite well as a front-mounted control panel on an electric cook-top. They are some of the more expensive thermoset plastics, not the cheap thermoplastcs preferred by so many maufacturers. Thermosets are at a disadvantage in that unusable parts can't be simply reground and re-melted. But they can have much higher heat-deformation temperatures and they can be stronger, with better electrical properties and reduced moisture absorbtion. But those benefits are ignored by those companies that choose to provide much less quality along with many more features.
Good detective engineering work on the homeowner's part, HOWEVER, if this happened to me, the FIRST phone call (or letter) that I'd forward would have been to the CONSUMER PRODUCTS SAFETY COMMISSION. It is agencies of the gov't such as this one which DO serve a useful purpose, much unlike so many others! It is unconscionable that a major appliance manufacturer, AND a top-tier one, to boot!, should market such an obviously defective appliance.
WAIT!..... I can hear the ambulance sirens with the ambulance-chasing lawyers in pursuit now......
I would hope that a design that's even at risk for a flaw like that would be designed with protection against it. Common sense suggests that if the design were capable of having an electrical shock hazard, as long as it was a 115 volt circuit it would have to be protected with a ground fault interrupter (GFI) rather than a circuit breaker. But when BOTH supply legs are "hot" (as in a 230 volt circuit, which is typical for a range) it's not inherently obvious that there IS a simple way to sense a low current fault! If the individual elements are wired between "hot" and ground then it should have been up to the range manufacturer to provide GFIs for each element because it isn't even possible to protect the device at the circuit level, otherwise it would seem this is WAY beyond a simple "flaw", it's a total design failure if the entire CONCEPT is unsafe.
@jlawton The operation of a GFCI does not depend on any inherent connection of the GFCI to neutral, or even to "ground". It simply looks at the current out one wire and back the other. If there is a difference the current must be going somewhere unintended, probably somewhere not good. If the difference is above threshold then both load wires are opened, preventing any further fault current. The GFCI neither knows nor cares where the fault current goes. In fact, leakage from a higher voltage would cause a fault current just as well as leakage to "ground".
Sorry, you're not thinking clearly here. If you have the SAME "leakage" between BOTH legs and ground then the leakage can cancel out in the difference sensing trabsformer and then you can't tell there's a fault to be sensed hence there's no protection. (It MIGHT not cancel equally but that hardly constitutes protection!) In order to guarantee that a fault would be detected under those circumstances it would have to be a sizable percentage of the load current, not the 15 mils or so that's guaranteed to cause a trip in a properly designed system. Anyway the author of the piece said it was a circuit breaker anyway not a GFI (or GFCI). An appliance for which design depends on external circuit protection to be operated safely is a disaster waiting to happen.
I would consider "the same" leakage from a balanced (with respect to ground) pair (e.g. 230V home power) would imply either two identical leakage impedances occurring simultaneously (highly unlikely) or a line-to-line bridge which, by its nature, is not a ground fault. Admittedly, bridging the lines could be quite deadly nonetheless, but may constitute a double fault (i.e. product design dependent). For a single point of influence to affect both lines of a balanced pair equally it would have to be at the center point of balance, which by nature is 0V and hence not a point of danger for causinng electric shock. Similarly having "the same" leakage from an unbalanced pair (e.g. 115V) to be a double fault condition, as there would need to be two simultaneous leakage paths of wildly different impedances, occurring at exactly the same time. Again, highly unlikely.
I can't for the life of me understand what your problem is here. The "center tap" of the pole pig for the line phase serving this area is of course grounded. A "standard" GFCI uses a differential current transformer which typically services just one side of this transformer. The entire premise is to ensure that the exact amount of AC current that flows out of the "hot" leg is returned through the wiring provided for the return circuit, if instead it goes to ground through an alternate path that's a fault and upon detection the circuit would of course be opened. If you were to try to make this work on a circuit that's wired only across two hot legs, you only have the two legs to sense current on, NEITHER of them is "ground current" per se so there's no way to sense a fault to ground, all you could do is sense a "sneak path" to the opposite hot side of the transformer but what good is that? A GFCI doesn't have any "magical" abilities, it just senses current differences in order to detect problems that cause it to sense certain problems by working the way it's designed to work. I don't know how this got so far off topic anyway, from all we can tell there wasn't even a GFCI at the circuit level so in the case at hand there wasn't any protection at all, the worst possible case!
That may be how it connects, that may be what it's sold for, that may be a useful circuit that protects reasonably well for a lot of purposes, but you just can't "prove" that the current that the circuit detects ACTUALLY flowed into a node (ground) the load isn't even connected to. Certainly it's a FAULT current detector, but I defy you to prove it's a GROUND fault current detector. Semantics maybe, but nonetheless the premise isn't really valid, I don't care how many connection schematics or usage manuals or any other diagrams or material you try to use to "prove" your assertion, sorry!
You are right about the whole unit not being protectable with GFI. The 110 VAC fan makes it unfeasible to protect with a single GFI device. You are also 100% correct that an internal GFI on just the 220 VAC burners would work well, but how would you package it? No one would want customers calling repairers to reset the internal GFI.
I think in the discussion above there is one point that is being misinterpreted. I'm almost sure that the author's reference to the circuit breaker was the 2-pole breaker in his main distribution panel.
Furthermore, historically for electric ranges w/ knob-control, when the burners are on low heat settings they are powered at the 120v level.
Also, please be aware that up until a recent NEC (NATIONAL ELECTRIC CODE) code change, it was permissible in standard one & two family dwellings to use the either #8 or #6 2-wire /w GND for connection of the range. The exact wire size was determined by the total ampacity of the range. The code discusses this as 10KW above & below. This allowable connection also existed for electric clothes dryers. They were typically fed from a #10 2-wire w/GND cable (ROMEX, BX, etc.) The one exception to this code rule was for mobil homes. For both the cook range AND the clothes dryer, they required a different connection. In both cases, the cables had to be a "3-wire w/GND" cable. When the connections to the supplies were made with attachment cordsets & receptacles, there are NEMA designations for each configuration. The latest NEC rules however dictate that electric ranges AND clothes dryers be connected with the appropriate "4-prong" cordsets, IF NOT directly wired to the feed cable, since both appliances are considered to be permanently placed. The point is that the previous code revisions allowed the NEUTRAL AND the (green or YELLOW/GREEN) conductor to be the SAME physical piece of wire. Now, however, with the recent change, the circuiting must be done so that the NEUTRAL conductor and the GROUNDING counductor ARE two separate physical pieces of wire. One final note regarding conductors..... the NEC provides definitions for these conductors. The NEUTRAL conductor is the "IDENTIFIED" conductor in cordage, and it is the GROUNDED conductor in such electrical distribution systems. The GREEN, YELLOW/GREEN or BARE conductor is the GROUNDING conductor, normally carrying NO current, in position simply as a "safety" conductor.
Not only the 110VAC fan, but also any 110VAC light bulbs in the range! Adding to your comment, there is some confusion in several other posts between a circuit breaker and a GFCI. A CB protects against overcurrent but not ground faults while a GFCI is exactly the opposite. A line protected only by a CB will still do a great job electrocuting someone unless there is a GFCI as well.
Total tangent...a new part of the Electrical Code requires garage door opener outlets to be GFCI protected. If the neutral goes open, the garage door opener, rail, and the entire door (if it's metal) will be energized. There's been a handful of electocutions when people touched a "hot" door.
Why in the world would a garage door beome electrified just because the grounding circuit on the opener failed??? Only if there was an unintended short circuit in the opener would that happen. Failure of a safety system does not intrinsicly cause a dangerous situation, it only allows it to potentially happen. Most of the time the failure of the intentional (frame) ground does not lead to any problems at all, since most equipment and appliances seldom develop short circuits to the frame. On rare occasions such faults do happen, and in those instances a properly functioning frame ground will prevent a shock hazard from developing. So it would be a public service to avoid spewing misinformation about the degree of hazard arising from the failure of a safety system. While the failure of the frame ground could allow an unsafe condition to develop, it does not automatically create a dangerous situation with an actual danger present.
I generally agree with your comments. But had you read my post, I commented it was an open neutral, not an open ground. Also, nowhere did I say it's a huge, rampant problem. That said, the handful of people electocuted by "hot" garage doors is apparently enough that it's part of the 2008 NEC for new construction and retrofits. So neither "spewing", nor "misinformation"....you can take up the debate with your building inspector or real estate appraiser if you don't agree with the NEC requirement.
kenish, it probably was an error on my part after a quite hard working day. Sorry if I jumped on you hard about it. But I still find the concept of electrically hot garage doors very unlikely, but it is true that one would get quite a shock, since at least on my garage door it takes a good grip on the handle to get it moving. A deffective opener on a two-wire extension cord could be a good security system as it would certainly make it a lot riskier for the bad guys to open the door.
And as I think about the stove with the open neutral conductor, I think about the way my dad wired up an electric stove at his cottage. He accidentally exchanged one side of the 240 volt line with the neutral connection. If he had checked the voltage on the outlet with a meter the problem would have been obvious, but he didn't, and so for about five years people occasionally got shocks off of the stove. He used three black wires and didn't mark them adequately. And if he had only metered from each side to neutral it would have tested OK.
[quote]But had you read my post, I commented it was an open neutral, not an open ground. Also, nowhere did I say it's a huge, rampant problem. That said, the handful of people electocuted by "hot" garage doors is apparently enough that it's part of the 2008 NEC for new construction and retrofits. So neither "spewing", nor "misinformation"....you can take up the debate with your building inspector or real estate appraiser if you don't agree with the NEC requirement. [/quote]
If you think about it, an open neutral will do nothing other than making the opener non-operational. Even if the neutral AND ground were to be open there still would be no shock hazard assuming the opener was not damaged with a fault to ground.
As for the NEC, it has become a shill for manufacturers so consider that many requirements like the expanded use of GFI receptacles and especially arcfault breakers and tamperproof receptacles a result of manufacturer lobbying not necessarily safety.
Having ingested this article and comments and the one about the oven element not opening one phase of 110 on the elements by the front panel switch, my takeaways are
1. Don't trust oven manufacturers to proof their products so you can work on them with any energy applied. You should be extra careful about standing in water and changing the rack positions. Don't be reckless or assuming after a move.
2. Circuit breakers protect wiring from burning up and causing fires. They don't protect people from low-current shocks. GFI are mandated where people might be well-grounded by wet conditions near sinks and tubs and in garages. They don't necessarily apply to protect people in other conditions. Sometimes they will trip and you should figure out why as they might be telling you something is in a soft failure mode.
3. New appliances have so many bells and whistles and fancy delicate controls they cannot be expected to last. The KISS principle has been overtaken by lightweight plastic vulnerabilities. Deal with it and don't expect the companies to build back to the iron age.
There's no reason in theory that a GFCI could not protect a range or other appliance with 3-wire 120/240 volt supply. A GFCI operates on the principle that the sum of the currents in the supply conductors (line and neutral for a single-phase 120 volt load; L1, L2, and neutral for a range or dryer) must be zero. If their sum is different from zero, then current is leaking somewhere. Any leakage current constitutes a ground fault.
True, 120-volt loads in a range or dryer such as a timer, light, or motor cause some current to flow in the neutral (grounded) supply conductor. But the vector sum of the currents in L1, L2, and neutral will be zero in the absence of a ground fault. This is true whether the supply is derived from a single-phase (120/240) or three-phase (120/208 volt) source.
There is no "knowing which phase is summed with the neutral". A GFCI uses a current transformer to sum ALL phases with the neutral. A single-phase GFCI, which is the only type most of us see, is the degenerate case of "all phases".
Perhaps the discussion at (www)(dot)sawmillcreek(dot)org/showthread.php?27322-GFCI-for-220 would clarify this, where I have not.
In any event, the NEC does not require GFCI protection on 240 volt appliances such as ranges and dryers, so apparently not enough people are getting killed by them to warrant it.
Hi Bernard, my name is Jordan and I am a representative of JennAir. I am terribly sorry to learn of the experience you have had with your range and sincerely hope no one was hurt. So we can look into this further review, please reach out to me via e-mail at JennAir.Digital@JennAir.com with ticket number 48193. Also, please include your name, your complete contact information with the model and serial number of your range.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. We see in our records you were recently contacted regarding this matter. Please feel free to reach out to us should you have still have questions or any future questions or concerns. Sincerely, Jordan
After a couple false starts, I was finally contacted by someone at JENN Air who had the authority to make things happen, and from that point on Jenn Air did pretty much what any good company, concerned about customer safety and satisfaction, would do.
He and I quickly exchanged a couple e-mails clarifying what had transpired and what I personally had done about it. It was then determined that Jenn Air would like to have the burner modules in question in their labs for engineering analysis. I was sent a Prepaid FedEx return address label and I placed them in transit. Jenn Air agreed to pay me the full MSRP without depreciation for both modules.
My wife and I are now deciding if we want exact replacements or something different. Jenn Air makes a module that is not glass topped that cooks as well but has a very different appearance. We are already familiar with these, having one, which we use for canning and other long, slow cooking operations, for which the glass top module is not recommended. We most likely will add a second one and not bother with the glass tops until we know that Jenn Air has changed the design.
Hello Bernard. I retired from an appliance manufacturer--not Jenn Air and I can tell you I am not really that surprised. For radiant elements under glass, the technology is basically the very same. A spring loaded "can" is held against the glass surface to provide necessary conduction to the utensil above. Manufacturers use the very thinnest of materials to accomplish this and a "vigorous" transit experience can cause the entire assembly to dislocate. Vibration analysis would solve this problem or allow engineers to strengthen the components but sometimes the "need for speed" to market does not allow. (I only hope medical equipment is not made with the same quality criteria.)
Yes, Jenn-Air was once a great appliance company. Now it is just a rebadged Whirlpool.
We bought our house NEW in 2008. One of the attractions the house had was all Jenn-Air appliances. What a complete let down! We have 3 appliances by Jenn-Air: 1) double oven, 2) stove, 3) dishwasher. All 3 have been completely removed from the cabinets so I could disassembled, diagnose, and REPLACE major parts. The dishwasher has been removed 3 times and the oven has been removed twice. The stove was removed once.
The dishwasher has had the digital control board replaced twice, the pump, and the water sensor replaced. Some other not so expensive items is the wheels on the racks have all been replaced at least 1 time. Then, of all things, the hose from the drain to the garbage disposal had to be replaced. I've never seen that go bad before. I've been in houses with 20 year old dishwashers and never had to replace the drain hose. It was super thin and flimsy. Where it went through the hole in the cabinet the plastic became brittle and cracked (too much fluoride in the water??). The cost of repairs has exceeded the cost of a new dishwasher.
The double oven has had the element replaced in the upper oven, the fire sensor replaced in the lower oven, the temp sensor replaced on both ovens, and the digital control panel.
The stove has had to have new gas valves installed on both of the front burners, and a new igniter box to send spark to the spark igniters' (never seen one of these go bad).
Bottom line, I will never buy anything associated with Whirlpool as long as I live. There's not 3 months that go by that I don't have to work on one of these 3 appliances. The most humiliating thing was the parts for the Jenn-Air dishwasher all said WHIRLPOOL on them. When I cross referenced the parts I discovered that this $800.00 Jenn-Air dishwasher was just a regular $500.00 Whirlpool that they stuck Jenn-Air badges on and raised the price $300.00.
Seriously, I'm 47 and have been living in old run down houses since I was 20. I replaced an oven one time because it actually burned out. It was probably 30 years old. I replaced a dishwasher once because I just wanted an upgrade. I've never had to replace or repair a stove. There's just nothing there to go wrong.
Had I known up front what a fraud the Jenn-Air product line is I would have negociated a lower price on the house and told the builder he can put his Jenn-Air appliances somewhere else.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
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