photo flames are simulated

Can an HDTV spontaneously combust or catch fire?

A spate of reader Emails caused HD Guru to visit, among other websites, where he found reports of Vizio TVs catching fire.

While some consumers consider Vizio HDTVs hot deals, they don’t‚ mean that literally!

A number of Vizio TV owners on these websites report sets smoking or catching fire. As you read this report, keep in mind we have had no first hand experience with this. These are Internet posts and should be considered in that light. Also consider that this represents but a tiny fraction of sets sold.

Kellie of Stockton Utah posted “I have had my 42″ Vizio LCD flat screen for about three years. Monday May 9, 2011 we were watching TV when all of a sudden there was a loud pop and the screen went black. We unplugged the TV and plugged it back in turned it on and it started shooting flames out the back.”

We found another recent complaint on consumeraffairs (May 14, 2011) from Melinda: her less than two year old Vizio shut down after producing a “burning smell.”

A Google search revealed other incendiary Vizio HDTV complaints. Posts dated October 2010 regarding three smoking and flaming Vizios (link) appear on Sears¢ website (the company recently dropped the Vizio TV line, though we are not claiming the decision is in any way related to the fire issue).

How to Avoid A Fire and Protect Your Warranty

Kellie’s initial problem of a loud pop and the set going black is typical of a TV showing the first sign of component failure. If your TV shuts itself off (with or without a pop) the first thing to do is unplug the power cord. TVs should never shut off by themselves.  There is an internal circuit breaker that’s activated as a safety precaution when an component is not functioning properly.

The next thing you should do is call the TV manufacturer’s customer service number and report the TV shut itself off and needs to be repaired. Make sure you get a case number.  This is extremely important if the set is within the warranty period as it establishes the problem’s date of origin.

If you do what Kellie did and plug the set back in and it fails at later date after the warranty expires you will not be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Only repower the set if the customer service rep tells you to do so.

What To Do If Your TV Catches on Fire or Smokes

After unplugging the TV and putting out the fire contact the US Product Safety Commission. According to USPSC spokesperson Patty Davis, the agency launched a new product safety complaints website on March 11, 2011 ( Here you can report an unsafe product such as a smoking TV as well as check out other recalled products. Make sure you know the exact model number before filing the report as the agency will need specific information to commence an investigation.

Davis explained the USPSC procedures require a maximum of five business days to verify the complaint and 10 business days for a product supplier or importer (depending on the product) to respond. The agency determines when a safety recall is needed, based on a number of factors the agency does not disclose.

Davis added that in the last several years all safety recalls have been done voluntarily with a legal agreement between the product supplier and the agency. The intention of the agency agreement is for the consumer to receive one of three solutions: repair, replacement or a refund.

HD Guru reported a voluntary recall by Best Buy of  Insignia TVs that caught fire. Here is a link.

We called Vizio’s spokesperson for additional information about the smoke/fire issue and received a response of “no comment.”

In our investigation we found consumers had reported smoke/fire issues with TV brands other than Vizio. Regardless of brand, readers following our recommendations can reduce the chances of fire or injury due to defective HDTVs and increase the likelihood of receiving a free repair or replacement.


Other Posts About Vizio :

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Vizio’s 2011 product line




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