Between 1980 and 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recorded 38 fatal injuries associated with the tipover of kitchen ranges—a standard household appliance that combines an oven and stovetop. A majority of these fatalities were children between the ages of one and five. During this same time period, the CPSC reported an additional 84 injuries that were caused primarily by burns from hot liquids spilling as a range tilted.
As a result of injuries sustained from unstable ranges, new safety standards for freestanding ranges were created in 1991. All ranges made after 1991 should be capable of supporting 250 pounds of weight on open doors without tipping and be equipped with anti-tip brackets. Despite new safety requirements, there is concern that anti-tip brackets require special installation procedures which may be ignored by home owners or installers. Ensuring that your own range has the proper anti-tip equipment installed is a simple process that can help avoid a potentially fatal accident.
Checking Your Range
Before you begin inspecting your range, make sure that all components of the range are turned off and are cool to the touch. Remove anything that is inside or on top of the range to avoid injuries if the range tips while you are inspecting it.
To find the anti-tip bracket on your range, shine a flashlight down behind the range. There should be a bracket that is connected to both the wall and one of the legs of the range. Alternatively, some ranges are secured with floor brackets. To find a floor bracket, remove the bottom drawer completely (some ranges do not have a removable bottom drawer which makes visual inspection of a floor bracket impractical). Use a flashlight to inspect underneath the range. There should be a bracket that is connected to both the floor and one of the legs of the range.
If visual inspection did not reveal any anti-tip bracket, you can also test the range by manually attempting to tip the range. Grasp the upper-rear section of the range firmly and attempt to tilt the range towards yourself. Note: If you do not feel comfortable attempting to manually tip the range, contact an authorized appliance service technician and arrange for them to conduct this test.
If the range tilts more than an inch, there is either no anti-tip bracket, or the bracket is not engaging correctly with the range. In either case, installing a new bracket is recommended.
Installing a Bracket
If the anti-tip bracket isn’t installed or will not engage with your range, the next step is to install a new anti-tip bracket. As in the case of checking your range, make sure that the range is off and cool to the touch and that no items are stored in or on the range before beginning to install the anti-tip bracket.
For ranges that were made after 1991, contact the appliance manufacturer to request a replacement anti-tip bracket and instructions for correctly installing the bracket. For ranges made before 1991, contact the manufacturer to check if they offer a retrofitted anti-tip bracket for your specific range. Even though anti-tip safety standards only applied to ranges made after 1991, many manufacturers voluntarily agreed to create anti-tip devices for their older models.
If you would prefer professional assistance, you can contact the party responsible for initially installing the range (generally either the appliance retailer or home builder) and request that they install the bracket for you.