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    Default 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.
    ullrichk
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    Quote Originally Posted by ullrichk
    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.
    Boy, that shredder must really do a good job. It makes paper into powder. Just kidding..... I can see that over time, if you just empty the paper and not clean out the dust, it could cause a problem. Have never heard of one exploding before. I wonder what UL has to say about this? Keep us posted if you find out anything!!!
    Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

    Aggressive does not have to equal stupid.

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    Sounds odd. I couldn't imagine that, if used properly, a shredder would cause such an action. Perhaps it was being used in a way that it shouldn't? Such as someone spraying a flammable lubricant into the openings? Just tossing it out there. I've never heard of it or read of it.

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    Did the shredder have a capacitor in it?

    Even a small capacitor on a circuit board can make a good bang if over loaded


    Jerry
    Gryphyn454@firehousezone.com

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    Are you suggesting a capacitor as an ignition source or as a the sole cause of the flash?

    I don't know if the shredder had capacitors or not, but then I wouldn't be the one tearing into equipment for an investigation, either.
    ullrichk
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    I cant say for sure in a paper shredder, but have seen capacitors exploded in air conditioning units after a high voltage surge, i.e. lightning strike, power spike etc. They can do some damage and will show burn marks and compromised wire insulation inside of the A/C unit. Now put that into a paper shredder and, well you might as well put a match to gunpowder.

    This is my theory as some of the large whole office size shredders do have a hefty capacitor in them to kick the motor, also some capacitors are oil filled which could have caused the burns to the victim in this case, not necessarill by a flash fire.

    Jerry
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    If you looking buy paper shredders or Shredder Oil.

    I Recommend Astore at

    cheap fellowes paper shredders & cheap paper shredders

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    It is unlikely that the unit has a capacitor. It is equally unlikely that there was any off-gassing due to an overheated motor. My guess is that this thing had something put in it that didn't belong there.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Depends on the "type" of shredder, a small unit, probably not but a commercial unit?? You bet, like a commercial copier those units are Big with the ability to shred hundreds of sheets. We got one at work, the thing can shred a book if you threw it at it :-)

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    Default My guess is that this thing had something put in it that didn't belong there.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    It is unlikely that the unit has a capacitor. It is equally unlikely that there was any off-gassing due to an overheated motor. 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.

    I was lucky I wasnít looking into my shredder when I blew it up.

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    I'm not a fire investigator. But I know a thing or two about electricity and paper shredders so here's my opinion on the matter.

    I think it is safe to say the burns and injuries were not the direct result of an electrical arc to the human's arms. We're talking about a 120vac paper shredder here, not a transmission substation. You would have to actually touch something energized for 120vac to travel through your body. And from personal intimate experience, it doesn't leave entry or exit burns (ask me how I know...). So, the electricity did not cause the burns or the flash. However, the small electrical spark from the motor brushes or anything else in there could easily be an ignition source for some other flammable matter.

    It would help to know what kind of shredder this was. The really big ones that turn paper into powder have oil tanks and a pump to lubricate it. I do not know enough about that oil to guess if it was a part in this and it may not have even been a feature of the involved shredder. However, I can take an educated guess that the vapor and flammability is probably pretty low considering it is used in an office. I have a hard time picturing vapors from that actually igniting and flashing out at the user, however it is one of the only things I can think of it.

    If the flash was the result of paper dust or paper shreddings igniting, I would think there would be evidence of such. Ash or burnt junk.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    If it is one of the larger officer shredders, there is a chance that someone accidentally dumped a butane lighter in the hopper.

    The town I work in has a document destruction company and we usually get called out 4-5 times a year for a fire that has progressed beyond their abilities. Needless to say after the last one we told them to do some more proactive measures to decrease the fires

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    I'm glad to see this thread getting some attention after being neglected for two years! I find it amusing that a spammer resurrected it.

    The shredder was only slightly larger than a garden-variety homeowner type shredder; it was no commercial monster. We had a lightning strike on the station recently so I can't look up the make and model at the moment.

    There were no solvents or lubricants in the vicinity. I looked for one of those "dust blower" canisters as well and didn't find anything nearby.

    It seems like I dug up one other case like this, but it was a customer complaint and not a true case study.
    ullrichk
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    Default 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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    It is unlikely that the unit has a capacitor. It is equally unlikely that there was any off-gassing due to an overheated motor. My guess is that this thing had something put in it that didn't belong there.
    God, I'm a genius.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Default 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!

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    Default Happened to me today!

    Had a double post. Sorry. Message didn't show up for several hours.
    Last edited by ENCXBG1; 09-03-2008 at 01:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ENCXBG1 View Post
    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!
    I think I saw this happen to Wiley E Coyote once. After ascertaining that you survived, I'd probably ask you to do it again with a video camera rolling.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Default 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.
    Last edited by cubbie; 09-04-2008 at 07:53 PM.

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    Cool

    One logical explanation for this event with the aerosol air cans would be the propellant from the can being the fuel that is ignited. This is what causes bug bombs to explode in peoples' homes, despite the fact that many people think it is because they use too many. Just food for thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor61 View Post
    This is what causes bug bombs to explode in peoples' homes, despite the fact that many people think it is because they use too many. Just food for thought.
    Mythbusters did an episode on the bug bombs. I didn't pay close attention but they couldn't recreate the exploding house until they used an ungodly amount of bug bombs. I think the warning label is for the rare event of "perfect storm" conditions or somebody using an ungodly amount of bug bombs.

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    Default 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.

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    I registered here just to let you guys know that I just had a paper shredder explode. A Royal VF810 I had purchased at Sam's Club about 3 years ago. It gets occasional use by my Safety guy. Yesterday, he went to shred a piece of paper and the shredder was running but would not feed. He pushed the reverse button to clear the shredder and an explosion occurred. A ball of fire came out of the shredder, singing his face and hands.
    We are both trained accident investigators. After reviewing what had happenned, it appears that paper dust was ignited from a spark from the AC motor. The explosion bulged the lower paper container, blowing a small clear plasitic piece off. The shredded mechanism itself appears intact. The underside of the shredder is slightly blackened and the paper remains in the shredder mechanism are charred slightly.
    Nothing unusual was ever put in the shredder and it has received normal maintenance as specified in the owners manual to include regular cleaning and oiling, using shredder oil. It had been about 3 months since maintenance was done and the shredder hopper was emptied the day before.
    As I write this, the shredder is in my office, waiting to hear if the company or the US Consumer Product Safety Commision wants to examine it.
    Doing alittle internet research (I Googled "exploding paper shredder"), I found 4 other examples of Royal model VF1000 exploding, one which resulted in injuries to a child. Emails and phone calls to the company have gone unanswered, but the US CPSC is very interested in the report I filed.

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    not so sure about a paper shredder exploding, but MCAS Cherry Point's generals building burned down a few years back due to a paper shredder motor overheating and igniting the shredded paper in the bin over a holiday weekend inside a vault like room that was unable to be accessed... interested to see what the final cause of this will be...

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