Ceramic cooktops are easy to clean and generally quite energy efficient, too, but they are slightly more fragile than traditional gas hobs. If you drop a heavy pan on them – or if they are poorly installed – then there is a chance that they might crack, and this could be dangerous.
Why Do Ceramic Hobs Break?
It is extremely unusual for a ceramic hob to crack on its own; most of the time, glass cooktops break because of improper use.
Ceramic hobs are made using ‘glass-ceramic’. Ceramic is a strong material, but it is quite brittle, and it cannot be heat treated for additional strength. It is strong enough for day-to-day use, and if you drop something ‘square on’, then it will probably not get damaged, but if you hit the edges, or drop something from a great height, then it could chip or crack. Placing pots and pans directly on the glass surface, or trapping heat by enclosing the glass top of the hob can lead to breakages, too.
So, is it safe to use a cracked ceramic hob?
In short, no – never.
Cracked ceramic hobs are dangerous. Do not use a cracked ceramic hob!
They work by transferring heat from an electrical circuit, through the ceramic, to the pan. There is a 220 volt circuit underneath the glass, and the only thing protecting the electrical circuit from exposure to moisture is that ceramic. If something in a pan were to splash or spill onto the hob and get through the cracks, then this could at best damage the rest of the cooker. At worst it could result in an electrical fire or the user of the hob being electrocuted. It is never safe to cook on a cracked glass cooktop!
What to Do About a Broken Ceramic Hob
If your cooker’s glass-ceramic tops have cracks in them, you should stop using the cooker immediately. In some cases, it is possible to repair the cooker, but this is not something you should not attempt unless you are certain you know what you are doing.
Note that the glass-ceramic is a part of a complex system, and the glass itself is not something that would be sold to a consumer, because it is not a “user serviceable” part. If you do a poor job of replacing the glass, then the cooktop will still be unsafe. The only safe way to replace the glass-ceramic is to replace the glass and the frame or support at the same time.
Replacing the entire frame can be a complex job because in many cases the heating elements need to be attached to the frame and there are a lot of wires involved. If you do decide to attempt the job yourself, make sure that you take a photo of the system before you take the original ceramic off, and then systematically reconnect the wires to the new frame, triple-checking that everything is in the right place as you go.
In most cases, it would save you a lot of time to just pay a professional to do the job for you. Professional appliance repair shops have the skills, tools, and supplier access required to do the job quickly and efficiently.
How to Prevent Glass Stovetops from Breaking
Rarely will a ceramic hob crack on its own – cracks almost always appear as a result of improper use. Here are a few things you should be doing if you want to prevent your glass hob from breaking.
Don’t enclose the burner
This might seem like a smart move since it minimises mess but the glass will exposed to intense heat, which will increase the odds of it cracking or shattering.
Avoid using oversized pots and pans
The larger the pan, the more heat it will trap between the base of the pan and the cooktop. Use smaller pans where possible, and don’t place oversized pots and pans on small burners.
Don’t place pots and pans directly on the surface of the hob
Even when the pans aren’t hot, the weight of them can still damage your hob’s surface.
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