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Staten Island woman’s microwave glass door explodes — and it wasn’t even on

“It was a very loud noise, a very loud pop.”

That’s how Alisa Giambalvo of Staten Island describes what she heard when the glass door of her GE microwave oven suddenly exploded last week.

“There were pieces of glass that were just flying out. It went all over the floor. It exploded outward. It was a very, very scary experience,” Giambalvo said.

Fortunately she was sitting at her kitchen table when the glass shattered. What really shocked her is that she wasn’t even using the microwave when the explosion occurred. “You wonder how can something happen spontaneously like that. It really doesn’t make any sense.“

A GE spokesperson says the company uses tempered glass in its microwave oven doors. It says the glass is designed to last the lifetime of the product.

However, on its website, it says “GE, like other manufacturers, is aware of a very small rate of ‘spontaneous glass breaks’. These breakages are believed to be caused by a small impurity in the glass which can cause it to fail.” It also says “in the rare case the glass does break, it is designed to break into small pieces.”

But Giambalvo showed PIX11 a number of large pieces of glass she found on the floor after the explosion.

Her experience is not as rare as some people might think. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says in the past five years, there have been 100 incidents reported of exploding or shattering microwave glass doors. Another 60 reports mentioned microwave explosions without specifying the glass doors. The commission says that “could indicate a similar hazard.”

Fourteen injuries have been reported.

Immediately after the spontaneous explosion occurred in Alisa’s home, she called GE, expecting the company would replace her microwave oven. She also contacted What a Shame at PIX11.

It took GE almost a week to send out a technician. He told her he couldn’t tell what had caused the glass to shatter. Then he handed her an estimate of $272 to have the door replaced. She was furious. When PIX11 called GE, a spokesperson said the company’s Consumer Relations Team was now looking into Alisa’s case. “I assure you we are still working on this”, said the company rep.

Hopefully she’ll get a new microwave oven or at least a new door, at no cost. It would certainly be a shame if she was forced to pay for a spontaneous explosion she did not cause.

By the way, GE says these explosions can also occur if the glass is weakened through normal wear and tear, or misuse. Consumers are urged not to slam the door shut and to avoid scratching the glass. GE says with millions of its microwave ovens in use, the incidents of glass breakage are rare.

If you’ve got a story idea, email Arnold at whatashame@pix11.com.