KENNEWICK ,WA - One moment 15-year-old Kevin Gilliam is unloading the dryer with the washing machine running and next he hears sounds of glass shattering, that send him running out of the laundry room.
Gilliam's family washing machine's lid exploded, sending glass shards flying across the laundry room, with multiple pieces landing on Kevin's back.
"It's seriously a health concern if he was standing up in front of it he would've had glass on his face," says James Gilliam, owner of the washing machine.
James Gilliam bought his Kenmore Elite Washing Machine Model 31633 at the Sears in Kennewick less than a year ago.
He could not believe what happened in his laundry room and he fears his son could have been seriously injured had he been standing up when this happened.
"No one said anything about oh this is a tragedy we need to notify the public that these things can explode," says Gilliam.
Although the glass didn't shatter completely, it left remnants behind inside the machine, on the clothes, and on the floor of the laundry room.
In a statement issued to KNDU, a Sears spokesperson says:
"Within the first year of purchase, on a very small number of units, failure in the glass may be due to imperfections in the glass at installation and would be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Breakage beyond the first year following purchase is most likely due to damage caused to the glass during use. Damage to the glass can be caused by a number of things including placing things on top of the lid or an object striking the glass—both examples may cause a weakness and lead to failure over time."
The statement goes on to say, "as a precaution, and for the safety of our customers, this Kenmore washing machine (and the industry in general) uses safety glass that is specifically designed to “pebble” into small pieces with rounded edges to help prevent injury if the glass breaks. This is the latest technology, and while the sound of breaking glass may startle a homeowner, Kenmore products comply with industry (UL) Safety Standards.”
But this isn't a one-time issue. it's happened to others. On the internet, countless of YouTube videos and comments dating back to 2017 showing this problem is affecting a lot of people.
Sears initially offered to only replace the lid on Gilliam's machine, but with glass shards inside the machine itself, Gilliam insisted sears replace the entire thing, which they eventually agreed to do.
A Sears repair technician who originally went to check out the washing machine also made note of a service reference ticket identifying this issue back in February of 2019.
Gilliam sent the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission information about this incident and CPSC went on to notify the manufacturer, Whirlpool, of the report.