Exploding paper shredders?
We had a paper shredder "explosion" call today at a local business with one injury. A witness described a red/orange flash and a loud pop. The victim sustained minor burns to the arms, face, and hair.
My top three uneducated guesses as to cause are a paper dust explosion (deflagration?), electrical arc, and flash fire involving gasses from an overheated motor or housing.
I'm not doing an origin and cause on this, but my curiosity is up. Anyone have a similar experience and know a cause? I've been too busy to check out the CPSC, etc. yet but I'll be giving them a look later this morning.
My guess is that this thing had something put in it that didn't belong there.
Perhaps some type of lubricant spray was used while the unit was running? Those arcing motor brushes are a great ignition source (Isobutane propellant).I canít imagine anyone being so careless.
Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
I was lucky I wasnít looking into my shredder when I blew it up.
Home from emergency with 2nd degree burns
Typing with one hand today as last night I was using compressed air to clean the optical paper sensor on my fellowes paper shredder. The blast was short, fast and hot! I am assuming that the vapors collected in the waste compartment and ignited by the motor. I feel like an absolute idiot. The can is covered with warnings about paper shredders. If anyone has any questions please let me know. All four fingers on my left hand are covered in 2nd degree burns. I don't think I will ever use a shredder again...ugh. Doctor said my hand should be good in 2 weeks...I was lucky. Could've been my eyes. Shredder still works so I don't think it was a cap explosion (it was running while I dove for the freezer). I can't believe that the paper shreds didn't ignite and was relieved to see my house still standing by the time I got home from the emergency.
Found this thread on google.
It happened to me this morning.
Ok, so this happened to me this morning. This is a potentially very serious situation. I had trouble with the auto feed on my paper shredder a while back and disassembled the entire unit before I found that it had a clogged optical sensor. Cleaning it restored full function of my office shredder. Well after I came back from the long weekend I walked in my office to hear the shredder running. Not wanting to take the thing apart again I found a can of compressed air. Typical product around the office. After looking for potential flammability warnings on the can I proceeded to blow air at the sensor area directly into the feed area of the shredder. I then turned the unit on and KABOOOOOM! Right in my friggin face!!!!
It was kind of like lighting a barbeque that has been running for a while with your head inside!
At first I thought something in the shredder exploded because I had already confrimed the air is not supposed to be flammable. I don't know if it's just the perfect mixture of paper dust and oxygen or if they are actually using a flammable propellent and failing to label the can properly. In either case it caused a pretty big explosion that could have been really bad for me. There was definitely some paper smoldering inside the unit. The drawer that holds the shredded paper had blown completely out of the unit and much of my arm and facial hair has been singed off. It would have been funny if it wasn't so damned scary!
Anyhow after further review of the back label it says there is a potential risk of ignition and to keep away from paper shredders specifically. One sentence in between a full paragraph about keeping away from children who may want to inhale the stuff. I had to read it line by line to find it. Too late now!
Exploding Paper Shredders
Most shedders require light machine oil for lubrication in order to function properly. If you run a shedder for and extended period of time without lubrication the motor over heats. It can get hot enough that it can cause burns to your skin if you coming in contact with the motor or the cutting blades. This maybe what happen. There are internal safety switches on more expensive shredders to shutdown the shredder down if it gets to hot. I dont know what the set points are for the safety switches. Once the shedder cools down the shedder will function again. I would want to interview the operator about how the shedder was being used prior to the incident.
Here is the answer for exploding shredders?
When you sprayed the canned compressed air into the shredder it was still enerized. Canned compressed air discharges from the can in liquid and turns to a gas very quickly. The liquid caused a small arc in the shredder. This ignited the propane propellant used to discharge the compressed air from the can. The propane is what caused the house to blow up in myth busters.:)