Will my coffee maker burn my house down?
December 1, 2007 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Will my coffee maker burn my house down?

I left my coffee maker (Mr. Coffee, switch model) on with about a quarter pot's worth of coffee still in it. I won't be back home to turn it off for 3 days. It sits atop my microwave. How worried should I be of it starting a fire?
posted by ecks to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
You will probably come home to a cracked coffee pot or possibly one that shattered. Almost all the newer models of coffee makers (and irons) have automatic shut-off features now--might be worth the $30 investment to have that piece of mind.
posted by 45moore45 at 8:40 PM on December 1, 2007

peace of mind. Oy.
posted by 45moore45 at 8:40 PM on December 1, 2007

Well...I've never left one on for quite that long, but I have let it go for like a day and a half, and it smoked and stunk up the house something awful. I will state the obvious, that if anyone has a key to your place, they should go turn off your Mr. Coffee.
posted by SixteenTons at 8:41 PM on December 1, 2007

does it not have an automatic shutoff? most do, these days.
posted by thinkingwoman at 11:11 PM on December 1, 2007

If it doesn't have automatic shutoff, you should be very worried. The apartment below ours left their pot on overnight, and by the morning there was a fire. The smoke smell was terrible. Please, get someone into your place to turn it off.
posted by xsquared-1 at 4:25 AM on December 2, 2007

My 10 year old Mr. Coffee shuts off automatically after 2 hours. Given the downside, I think I'd definitely have somebody check on it if it's possible, but odds are you probably have an auto-shutoff. It's a fairly standard feature exactly because people forget to turn them off!
posted by COD at 5:47 AM on December 2, 2007

I have had used a Bunn industrial, 4 burner machine that had no shut off. There was a small amount of coffee left in the pot, burner on, for a day and a half. It turned to sludge in the bottom of the pot. The pot did not crack. There was an odor of burning coffee but no smoke.

So, I suppose if there is a quarter pot of coffee, it would take a while for it to evaporate. As said prior, most every new coffee pot turns itself off in about 120-180 minutes to prevent just this situation.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:06 AM on December 2, 2007

Years ago I met a homeless guy living on the streets of Norfolk, VA who told me the story of how he became homeless:

He went fishing with a friend one morning and left his Mr. Coffee on. When he got home in the evening the fire department was dousing the remains of his single-wide rental trailer.

He said specifically, "If you have a Mr. Coffee, make sure to turn it off."

So... I'd take the homeless guy's advice and find a way to turn it off.

And maybe switch over a French Press.
posted by wfrgms at 12:45 PM on December 2, 2007

If you haven't been contacted by the local fire department yet...

Couple of decades ago I worked in an office with one of those Bunn coffeemakers. It was pounded into us that you always turned the thing off after 4:00 p.m. or so.

Eventually someone forgot on a Friday afternoon. It stayed on, with about 1/3 pot of coffee, until Monday morning. Pot was scorched and ruined, break room stank for a week, employee responsible was subject to merciless ribbing. Beyond that, no harm done.

This may or may not correspond to your situation.
posted by gimonca at 12:49 PM on December 2, 2007

I have left a small amount of coffee in a crappy pot (with no auto-off function) overnight, at my office, and returned in the morning to find the bottom of the pot encrusted with steaming sludge. I would not want to find out what would happen over three days (but I doubt it's enough to cause a fire).

My uninformed, entirely gut-based intuition is that the heat from a coffee pot warmer is not enough to start a fire.
posted by jayder at 5:27 PM on December 2, 2007

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