Why Do Pressure Cookers Explode?

by Staff | July 27th, 2020

pressure cookers explode

If you polled Indianans on what pops into their heads when they hear the phrase “pressure cooker,” you may get a split right down the middle between a do-it-all kitchen appliance and a highly stressful situation. That’s because pressure cookers have long been associated with kitchen accidents that damage homes and severely injure unlucky bystanders. And while today’s pressure cookers are much safer than their predecessors, they still have the potential to be dangerous.

Pressure Cookers’ Dubious Reputation Goes Back Decades

Along with the growing size of kitchens and the invention of new cooking appliances, pressure cookers became must-have items in post-World War II America, but many were made with cheap parts and little to no safety features. Pressure cookers from that era often used a single-weighted pressure regulator, which was prone to becoming clogged.

When the pressure regulator grew non-functional, the vent valves couldn’t open in time to release excess steam. With nowhere to go, the steam would continuously build until it blew the lid right off—a mishap that wasn’t helped by the fact that lid latches often failed on pressure cookers of that era.

Thankfully, modern pressure cookers have primary and secondary valves, as well as lids that only open when pressure has dissipated. In addition, pressure cookers must meet the standards of consumer testing agencies before they’re allowed to be sold to homeowners, chefs, restaurateurs, and others. However, not all pressure cookers are safe, and every year, media outlets report on new pressure cooker injuries and explosions happening all across the U.S.

Some Dangerous Pressure Cookers Fly Under the Radar

As with many dangerous consumer products, exploding pressure cookers can often be attributed to defective design, cut-rate components, or inadequate product testing. In Jan. 2020, a federal lawsuit was filed against Sunbeam after its Crock-Pot Express Pressure Cooker was alleged to explode and burn users or anyone nearby. The lawsuit claims that the explosions were due to a defective pressure release valve and a faulty gasket that allowed the cooker to open while their contents were still under pressure.

Many kitchen appliances can be dangerous, but pressure cookers are unique in that they are just one or two minor feature failures away from causing serious harm to you and your loved ones. When in use, pressure cookers can have internal temperatures 40 degrees hotter than the boiling point of water. If they explode or forcefully eject liquids or food, their contents can cause severe burns and scalds.

How Can You Avoid a Pressure Cooker Injury?

The best way to stay safe is to avoid using pressure cookers altogether. However, if you decide to continue using one, keep these tips in mind to reduce your risks:

  • Check your pressure cooker for recalls or lawsuits—Research the brand, name, and model number of your pressure cooker to find out if it’s been recalled, is the subject of a lawsuit, or is linked to any injuries. If so, contact the manufacturer or return it to the store, as you may be eligible for a refund.
  • Inspect your pressure cooker for damage—Modern pressure cookers have many safety features, but they don’t do much good if they’re damaged. Check your pressure cooker’s valves, sensors, latches, and seals before each use.
  • Clean your pressure cooker—Many pressure cooker explosions are due to blocked valves or build-ups of food and other particles. Keeping your pressure cooker clean will reduce the chances of an explosion.
  • Vent and open your pressure cooker carefully—Two of the most dangerous steps involve venting steam and opening your pressure cooker. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when doing both, and do so slowly and carefully.
  • Never add oil to a pressure cooker—Cooking oils such as olive oil or canola oil can increase the temperature inside pressure cookers, causing safety features, seals, and latches to melt. It can also cause fires.
  • Keep kids away from your pressure cooker—Pressure cookers can be extremely dangerous and shouldn’t be used within reach of children. Children may open them while they’re still in use, vent them improperly, or even pull them off of countertops, making them more likely to explode.
  • Don’t buy a secondhand pressure cooker—Modern pressure cookers are considered safer than older models because of their safety features. But those features are less effective with wear and tear. Never buy a pressure cooker with an unknown usage history.

We’re Here to Help After a Pressure Cooker Injury

Although pressure cookers are associated with explosions and injuries, you shouldn’t have to worry about you, your loved ones, or even your home being in danger because of a simple kitchen appliance. At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, we hold negligent product manufacturers accountable when their devices injure innocent people.

When you contact us, we’ll find out exactly what happened to cause your pressure cooker to explode. Then, we’ll prove it was the manufacturer’s fault. Finally, we’ll determine how much money you deserve for your medical bills and lost wages, and we’ll fight to help you get every penny. Call today for a free consultation.

Connect With Our Attorneys Now