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On Fire: Maytag’s Recall of 1.6 Million Refrigerators

This article was written by in Consumer. 28 comments.


It sounds like a variation of the old joke: “Is your refrigerator on fire? (Wait for response.) You better go and put it out!” But seriously, Maytag is recalling 1.6 million refrigerators due to a serious fire hazard reported in 41 incidents. If you purchased a Maytag fridge with a side or top freezer from January 2001 through January 2004 for a price between about $350 and $1,600, contact Maytag to see if yours is included in the recall. If a new Maytag refrigerator came with your new home within and around the above time period, you may want to check with the manufacturer as well.

There are Maytag refrigerators with other brand names affected, as well. If your refrigerator bears the name of Jenn-Air, Amana, Admiral, Magic Chef, Performa, or Crosley, the recall might apply as well.

Here is how to tell if your refrigerator is affected.

  • For side-by-side appliances, your serial number ends with AA, AC, AE, AG, AJ, AL, AN, AP, AR, AT, AV, AX, CA, CC, CE, CG, CJ, CL, ZB, ZD, ZF, ZH, ZK, ZM, ZQ, ZS, ZU, ZW, ZY, or ZZ and your model number begins with ARS, CS, JC, JS, MS, MZ, or PS.
  • For appliances with a freezer on top, your serial number ends with AA, AC, AE, AG, AJ, AL, AN, AP, AR, AT, AV, AX, ZK, ZM, ZQ, ZS, ZU, ZW, ZY, or ZZ and your model number begins with AT, CT, MT, or PT.

If you fall in either of the two categories, do not bring the refrigerator back to the store. Maytag will most likely schedule a free in-home repair appointment. Finally, that repairman in the commercials will have something to keep himself busy. To contact Maytag, call 866-533-9817 or visit Maytag’s repair website.

Published or updated March 10, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Brandon Barkley

Guess there will be a little work for the good ole Maytag repairman.

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avatar Andrew

I immediately called Maytag yesterday when I heard of this recall, since this same issue happened to my refrigerator a couple years ago. When the technician came out at that time, they diagnosed the issue exactly as described in the recall and recommended buying a new refrigerator versus fixing a refrigerator that basically caught on fire. Not to mention I consider myself lucky since my house didn’t catch on fire, but you could see the black smoke up the side of my wall.

When I followed up with Maytag a couple years ago to see if this was due to a product issue, they said no that it was not. Obviously not happy with the response, I kept the refrigerator for some time to see if a recall was posted, but that did not happen. Low and behold a recall was finally issued for the issue I experienced.

I called Maytag and was escalated to their level three resolution team and after spending half the day on the phone. I explained my issue to the representative in the following manner. My refrigerator had this same issue as the recall stated and the model number matched the recall, but since then I took the refrigerator to the county dump. I provided all of the documentation from the A&E Service technician report, which diagnosed the issue exactly as the recall stated. After going back and forth with the representative, they said there was nothing they could do for me since I no longer have the refrigerator in my possession. They claimed that they need to send out another technician to ensure the diagnosis was correct.

I am sure the numbers they reported are way off since they completely ignored my issue when originally reported and I am sure others are in the same boat. I would never recommend purchasing Maytag appliances for their lack of responsibly and responsiveness to this issue. I was not expecting for them to refund my purchase of the new $800 refrigerator that I had to go purchase two days after Christmas, but maybe refund my $52 service call that was a waste, since the issue was not covered under their warranty.

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avatar michelle

Maytag as a company no longer exists. They were purchased by Whirlpool in 2007. Whirlpool now makes all Maytag appliances. The recalled models were from the old company.

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avatar Ron Russell

Good Day Andrew;

I have read your comments with regard to the Maytag refrigerator. If you have the opportunity I would appreciate speaking with you regarding, not only your contact with Maytag but also some specifics of what occurred. I am presently involved in a fire investigation which may be pointing in the direction of such a refrigerator unit. If you contact me at the above mentioned e-mail address I will give you a phone number, or if you wish to leave your phone number I would very much appreciate the opportunity of speaking with.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Capt. Ron Russell C.M., C.F.I. (ret.)
Russell & Associates
Fire and Liability Investigators
6822 22Av. N. #107
St. Petersburg, Florida
33710
Phone 727-345-7000
Fax. 727- 345-4881

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avatar K

Good luck getting anywhere with the web site or phone for repairs. Doing a little research on previous recalls, I found Maytag has an issue with their site going back to 2007 for reporting on a recalled item:

https://repair.maytag.com/repair/default.jsp

After going through the entire process entering information you get a note saying the system encountered an error and you should contact them by phone.

And of course going through their phone tree will get you a message at the end stating they are too busy to take the call “please try the web site.”

If this is the kind of service to expect from them in the future, looks like I will not be purchasing anything else from Maytag.

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avatar tim

so I have this model and set up an appointment, the technician replaces bad part 15 minutes later he leaves…. well now the relay makes a loud click every 45 seconds and the lights flicker in the house??? I’m gonna put the old part back on, MAYTAG what a piece of $&it

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avatar Jeff H

I had the same problem immediately after the part was replaced. I called them
and they said to call the technician that installed the part.
Now (about a month since the part was replaced), the frige is very
warm to the point we’re going to have to move fresh food to the other frige.
I’m hoping someone that knows how to get a class action law suit together
will do just that.

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avatar Krystle

I am having the exact same problem. My freezer will not freeze and the refrigerator half will not keep anything cold. It’s room temperature. The sad part is I just went food shopping and about $200 worth of meats, juice, yogurt, and fresh vegetables have now spoiled.

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avatar Bob McLennan

A Lil’ history we live in Florida where all homes are 100% electric, and have 18′ vaulted ceilings, the kitchen is in the center of the home with 8′ divider walls, opened to the ceiling. Ahhh of course I had the same problem last July of 08. We were outside enjoying the day by the pool, and the wife went in for a moment. All I heard was a scream that the house was on fire. I ran around like a chicken with it’s head cutoff searching quickly for the source of the burning electrical smell & smoke that was quickly filling our home. I ran to the breaker box and pulled the mains. I ran around the outside of the house looking for flames ejecting from the roof. There were none. I quickly called 911 and reported that something electrical was on fire, and the fire department quickly arrived. They searched the house and couldn’t find the source. They so wanted to start pocking holes in my walls & ceiling, but I stood my ground and said NO! With the power off we all started our investigation. The smell was consentrated in the kitchen area, and upon the fire department pulling the refrigerator forward there was a large blackened area on the wall, as well as the unit. It was a Sunday and no Maytag repair shops were open. I got a hold of a local guy that could be out at 9:00 AM on Monday. The repair took 15 minutes and the part cost 6 bucks, but his service call was $125.00. Maytag refuses to re-emburse me for replacing the compressor starter solenoid that was originally made in China. I consider this piss poor engineering on Maytags part. This unit should be fused/breaker as well as being shielded by a steel housing to contain any flames that result from the unit shorting out. I guess this is what you get for a made in America $1,200 unit. Three days after the unit was repaired the Maytag repair center called saying they could be out in 3 weeks. What a fricken Joke.

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avatar gerri

Ha! I’m not surprised.

A long time ago, late 1980s I think, I replaced a 20year old fridge with a new Amana refrigerator.

A few months later, the thing iced up the cooling coils and quit cooling, then leaked all over.

I called for warrantee work. When the tech arrived he had a “rebuilding kit”. Basically, it took him close to 3 hours to disassemble the insides of the refrigerator and replace almost every piece of it short of the compressor itself.

Thereafter the refrigerator, almost worked. But with the caveat that I absolutely must perform the recommended maintenance of vacuuming out the condenser coils every month without fail. … Sure enough, I forgot one month and the problem happened again.

I called for warrantee “Full mechanical replacement” with a new model or with factory engineering changes that did not have the problem to start with. They refused. I gave up at that point. I kept the Amana fridge, but put Amana on my “permanently disqualified vendor” list.

In 2006 I replaced the Amana fridge with a LG fridge because I could not find an American made one that I could assert, with certainty, was NOT linked in some way with Amana. That LG fridge has performed flawlessly.

Amana remains on my “permanently disqualified vendor” list.

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avatar JILL

MY MAYTAG FRIDGE CAUGHT ON FIRE ON MARCH 25TH, THEY CAME OUT TO TRY AND FIX IT ON MARCH 27TH. I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS ON A RECALL UNTIL I CALLED FOR SERVICE. WHEN I ARRIVED HOME MY HOUSE WAS FILLED WITH SMOKE, THE COUNTER TOP WAS BLACK, AND THE WALL WAS BLACK. WHEN THEY TRIED TO FIX IT, THE FRIDGE WAS UNFIXABLE. I HAD PAID $1379 FOR THIS FRIDGE AND THEY ARE PRO RATING IT AND ONLY GIVING ME $700. ANY SUGGESTIONS ON WHAT I CAN DO. THIS IS TRULY THEIR FAULT, AND I WAS HAPPY WITH FRIDGE UNTIL THIS HAPPENED. I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO TURN TO GET MY MONEY THAT I FEEL I HAVE COMING TO ME. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!! THE IRONIC PART OF ALL THIS IS I RECEIVED A LETTER STATINIG THE FRIDGE WAS ON RECALL IN MY MAILBOX ON FRIDAY WHEN THE REPAIRMAN WAS AT MY HOUSE.
LIKE I SAID ANY SUGGESTIONS WOULD BE GREAT.

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avatar James

I also had the relay replaced in mid-2007 and fortunately there was no fire damage. I called Maytag at 1-866-949-0676 (after going through the automated service and other call representatives to get this number) and spoke with a manager named DeShone. She refused to reimburse the $228 I spent to fix the fridge since she claimed it is the customer’s responsibility to replace the part after the warranty expired despite Maytag acknowledging the recall. The only thing they will do is replace the existing relay that I already paid for as they claim that it is still an existing fire hazard. Everyone should call the number I listed and complain. Needless to say I will never purchase another Maytag appliance.

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avatar Tom R

I just got off the line with the Maytag recall system. After managing to get through all the phone system’s questions to the point of setting up an appt, the call was disconnected on their end.

How frustrating! I guess I am now supposed to call again and hope that the same thing doesn’t happen. I think I’ll wait a week or so and see if they amaze me by calling me back. Phht. Sure.

-Tom

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avatar baysunset

our compressor was replaced april 17th. we noticed that the fridge was never as cold after that and it kept getting warmer and warmer. we kept setting the temp colder and colder till we hit the max. had a roast and a 6 pack of chicken breasts, plus all our dairy products go bad over the weekend. i put a thermometer in the fridge yesterday and checked it this morning – 70 degrees! we’ve lost everything. checked the freezer – ice cream is runny and the freeze pops are liquid. I suppose we’ll lose everything in there, too. when i called the company who replaced the compressor, they said that a lot of people have experienced ‘problems’ after the compressor replacement, so all calls have to go directly to maytag so they can keep track of the issues. (FYI: the phone number to report problems after the recall service has been done is 866.949.0676) after being transferred 4 times for ‘escalation’, they finally told me someone will be out tomorrow between 8 and 5. she said if they determine it’s not related to the compressor replacement, the cost is on us. gee – what do you think the verdict on that will be?? of course the fridge has a 5 year warranty and we just hit 6 years. can’t win. best of luck to all dealing with this. baysunset

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avatar Tom R

Amazingly, I rec’d a response to the email I sent to the Maytag service address after my attempt to set up an appt on the phone. Someone’s coming out next week. But, after the last message, I’m wondering whether I want to let them touch my unit, which seems to be working fine after 6 years. If something goes wrong afterwards, would they be willing to repair it without charge? Doubtful.

BTW, I believe it’s just the compressor SOLENOID which is being replaced, not the entire compressor. Should be a pretty basic repair, but still…

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avatar Tom R

Was the compressor replaced as part of the fire hazard issue?

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avatar Tom R

I guess I should trust that AE will do right by me, even though they’re not really working for me or being paid by me. When I was notified of the recall, I assumed that the refrigerator was being replaced.

The question is, should I simply hope that everything goes as expected despite having no real recourse if it doesn’t?

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avatar Tom R

The technician visited today. It’s a quick, straightforward repair. The fridge appears to be still working. :-)

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avatar Tom R

Well, it’s been a little over a month, now, since the technician replaced the relay. I don’t know whether it’s the heat, but my fridge seems t be running constantly! Now I wish I wouldn’t have allowed the repair.

I understand there’s something called “designed obsolescence” or something like that, whereby in order to ensure regular product turnover, manufacturers… I was thinking, hey, maybe they forgot to install the obsolescence at the factory? Kind of like the movie where the guy gets to come back to earth from heaven but they forget to install his forgetter mechanism so he remembers everything.

Anyway, we’ll see, I guess. Buying a new fridge right now is definitely not the budget.

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avatar Rod

I would approach this recall with caution. It seems to be a huge mess for Maytag. A great example in how to ruin a product company that once stood for quality and durability. We in the last decade had replaced all of our appliances with Maytag and I could not be more displeased with the lack of quality and durability.

Nothing but problems with the Maytag Side-by-Side Refrigerator. We purchased ours at the beginning of this bad period in 2001 and it was covered under the recall notice. The automated recall was handled OK and the local repair person was scheduled 5 days after the unit failed and we lost nearly $350 worth of groceries. It took less than 5 minutes for the relay replacement part to be installed and then the repair guy says the fridge now has a plugged frost line. Repair cost over $400. Of course the repair guy says there is no guarantee that this will solve your problems as it could be something else and they want you to schedule to extra repair immediately. We opted to wait and see if the machine would eventually cool and come back to life. Quick and pressured decisions are usually not the best approach in these situations. The local sales people where we purchase the appliance has pressured us to buy a new unit — not surprising.

We will wait now as the machine seems to be running OK now but will give it a few days to see if this relay replacement actually solves the problems. The ice maker has had repeated problems that we have learned to deal with as the machine is now out of warranty. Problems include frozen water line, non-stop ice problems, poor workmanship in shelving plus other associated problems. Fortunately we have our 32 year old Frigdaire still in the basement working fine and dandy and have it as a backup. We have had other appliances from this once famous company fail as well – a washer and dryer.

Our recommendation – be cautious with the repair and what you might expect. Also, IF YOUR FRIGERATOR runs NON-STOP, cooling starts to slow and them quits, this appears to be the source of your relay problem and the heating up issue. Get the food out of there quickly into your backup freezer or coolers and turn the machine off. Probably had we waited or left it run it would have caught fire.

We are watching this machine carefully now and does make one feel somewhat uncomfortable.

I would never again recommend a Maytag appliance.

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avatar cynthia

My fridge began making clicking noises and after awhile, I decided to investigate. The freezer had begun to defrost and there was water all over my freezer goods. I unplugged the fridge and went to bed. Followed the instructions on my recall letter, and scheduled a repair a week and a half later. Lost everything in the fridge to the tune of +$600, but considered myself lucky I didn’t die in a fire. The repairman came, repaired, and went.

I want my $600 and a new fridge that I can trust from a company I trust. Are American appliance manufacturers going to go the way of American car companies with consumers finding foreign appliances more reliable, energy efficient, and free of the “planned obsolescence” philosophy?

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avatar Marian haney

Below is a copy of a letter I mailed to Maytag (not realizing they no longer exsisted) and of course it came back. Somehow I would just like to vent my frustrations. I have deleted the name and address and my signature from the orginal copy.

July 3, 2009

What an adventure we’ve had. Six years ago last January we purchased a wonderful Maytag refrigerator, 27.3 cubic feet. It had an ice and water dispenser on the door and so easy to store and to organize in both the refrigerator and freezer. We lived in bliss with our great new appliance. We were so thrilled with it that when our washer quit this spring we went out and purchased a new Maytag washer and dryer.

Had we but known the woes that awaited us with our refrigerator we never would have bought into Maytag for the washer and dryer. We nicely got them installed when, lo and behold, our refrigerator is on a recall list for a relay switch; fire hazard! Well, good for you, Maytag, for making it right. Right??? Wrong!!!

I called your company on May 19, 2009, and we were able to be serviced on the 3rd of June, (earliest available time). So what were 2 more weeks; we weren’t having any problems.

From the day that Mike (not a very personable man by the way), of Diamond Factory, came and installed that new relay switch that refrigerator never shut off. How annoying is that? It took a few days for a dunder head like me to realize this thing has gone berserk; it just keeps running. The refrigerator’s internal temperature was rising but possibly with the new switch this was normal so I turned it up another notch. Well, little by little the temperature keeps going up until we are on the #9 setting the best temperature we could maintain was 60 degrees. Now the ice cream is soft in the freezer so in the large freezer it goes. Suddenly no more ice cubes. Definitely something wrong.

My husband calls Maytag and gets bounced from person to person and is finally given the date of July 1, the earliest our esteemed Mike can make it back out here to check it out; AT OUR EXPENSE! When I returned home at noon and learn of this I am flabbergasted, not only with the time line but that we should be expected to pay for the service charge.

So…I get on the phone. None of phone numbers that I was referred to corresponded with any of the numbers my husband was given. In all we had six phone numbers plus the one we started with. Lee spent a good portion of the morning on the phone and I spent another 2½ hours on the phone in the afternoon. That would maybe be okay but with today’s modern technology who gets a person without waiting their turn on hold for what seems like forever?

When I retired as a secretary/receptionist sixteen years ago I was making $13.00 an hour to man the phones and now I’m expected to spend all this phone time listening to one person after another giving me all the rehearsed reasons our refrigerator is running constantly; the hot, humid weather (our unit was not outside but in an air conditioned house), the new relay switch runs up to 90% of the time so it’s normal, Ya Da, Dah Da, Dah Da.

In the end Mike returns on July 1, 2009, opens the refrigerator door and states that we need a new defrost switch due to the condensation on the wall of the unit. He could order this part, which would take a week or so to receive, and come back (when????) and install it for $200.00. He maintained it was just a coincidence that this goes out just when the relay switch was replaced. Somehow I just cannot accept that. I suspect the relay switch caused the defrost error. Nor am I inclined to spend that much money on this refrigerator when I feel that it wouldn’t fix the problem.

We have spent a month without proper refrigeration. I have tossed bacon, hot dogs, all sorts of dressings and mayo, veggie dips, sour cream, cream cheese, etc. We have purchased ice and operated out of an ice chest for staples but not anymore! Last night I shut the beast down and enjoyed the blessed silence of it no longer running. Today they delivered our new HOTPOINT refrigerator!

I hope all your recall customers aren’t living the month long nightmare that we have. I also pray our washer and dryer stands up better than our refrigerator did.

Frustrated, Stressed and Disgruntled in Michigan

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avatar Tom R

Hmm. I think you made a good choice in dumping the unit. The defrost switch was likely damaged by the new relay switch, which is probably not in spec with the the original design. I would expect a new defrost switch to suffer the same fate as the first.

Being from Michigan, you’re seeing the worst of the buyout/acquisition/outsourcing insanity of globalism which this incident typifies. When are we going to say “enough!” and go back to the protectionist economy which resulted in the high living standards of 40 years ago?

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avatar scott goerne

i am having the same issue with the relay recall. the repairman replaced the relay and all it did was click very loud, dim the lights and kick off. now he says its my compressor. a $300 part that is not a for sure fix. ive tryed to call maytag but i cant get a live person to talk to. if anyone else had this issue and got it taken care of please let me know how i cannot afford to buy a new frige now. thanks

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avatar Darlene ZInn

My refrigerator worked fine until I had the relay replaced due to the recall. Now my refrigerator had gotten warmer and warmer after the repair which was unbeknown to me and I lost all my food. This is happening today, Saturday, less than 24 hours after the repair, and I cannot get my service person today. So needless to say…I am very disgusted with Maytag AGAIN. Funny how things work out…the same day my “Maytag” refrigerator repaired (so to speak) my Maytag Neptune washer was hauled out the other end of the house and replaced with an “LG” The Neptune was a time bomb waiting to explode too! I will never, ever, buy Maytag again. I have had the “Maytag” person out so many times to repair my stuff that he can put the van in “auto”!!!! And get to my address. While he was here yesterday the fan was not working either, of which apparently had never worked, because he remembered of my saying how hot the outside strip between the doors was hot. He said the fan was the cause of this, so the fan was replaced which is not under warranty even though that is a known problem too!!! Sure sucks to own a Maytag!!!!!!

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avatar Tom R

Sorry to hear about your plight, Scott. It seems that I got “lucky”, I guess, and did not end up with a ruined fridge after the relay visit. I wonder whether yours is an issue with the technician forgetting to first unplug the unit or something. Did he bother to test it before leaving?

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avatar scott goerne

well the fridge was unplugged for a week or so before he came because it was not working and i personally found the relay burn and melted. he installed it and then turned it on. he tested the compressor before installing the relay and the compressor appeared to be fine. he is coming back out today to do somemore tests. i dont know if the relay could cause the compressor to lock up or is the compressor locked up and caused the relay to melt. i was smelling burnt electrical or a while before the fridge quit but couldnt find out where it was coming from.

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avatar annie

Hi everyone out there in maytag hell!! after reading everyones stories I feel compeled to tell mine and sorry to say you guys are lucky to be on the safe side. On feb 16th of 2009 i got a call that my house was on fire. the fire marshal first on the scene discovered flames shooting out from behind my fridge, and immediatly searched the web for a recall which did not yet happen. In march after the recal was announced we called maytag who graciously offered to refund us the full 1200 for the fride in return for returning the fride/ evidence to them. NICE TRY!! Now people have stories of smoke damage< structural damage and such but this fire destroyed my entire house, all my families belongings and killed my 3 dogs. my insurance company suggested a 3rd party investigator to do a forensic analyst of both the fridge and questionable electic wiring due to the fact that our house was built at sometime before 1890, the company was able to rule out the electric 100% but as far as the fridge all that they can say is looks like the cause but couldnt say it 100%?? Thats fine because I dont need it I know that was the cause and if pics are worth a 1000 words I am good. The main damage occured behind the fridge and up the side wall behind it which then balloned up through the walls into the attic consuming our childrens room. there is not much fire damage to the rest of the kitchen(just smoke and water damage) but the back of the fridge is completly gone totally destroyed as in almost non excisting so put all the pieces together and you would probably come to the same conclusion and its really funny that all recalls only reports of slight damage where is the report of this? I would like to hear from anyone who reported damage due to fires and compare with them

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avatar Richard C.

I had purchased a Maytag refrigerator in 2001. It worked great! Then I get a call from Maytag saying there is a recall on a part and immediately set me up with the nearest service repairman. Sure enough, he came out, replaced the part in minutes and was on his way. I’ve been happy with my Maytag Plus and still am. Luckily, the recalled part did not start any fires. I would definitely buy Maytag again, especially since we’ve replaced every major appliance in our home with Maytag. One make I definitely stay away from is Samsung.

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