A flurry of tumble dryer fires led to Whirlpool undertaking a product safety review in November last year. Since that time, the manufacturer has found issues with more than 100 of their Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan models, manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. They have so far acknowledged 750 fires have been caused by faulty appliances (Which, 25th February 2016), stating that, “in some rare cases, excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire”.
After the safety review, customers were advised to contact Whirlpool to arrange a home visit from an engineer in order to modify and improve the safety of these dryers. But with over 4 million appliances affected, the company is reportedly struggling to fix the faults in a timely manner. According to a report by ITV news on 18th April 2016, only 330,000 of the faulty appliances have so far undergone the requisite safety modification, with waiting times of up to 12 months being quoted for repairs. Whirlpool has not recalled the faulty dryers, stating that they are still safe to use as long as they are not left unattended and that the lint trap is emptied after every cycle.
Whirlpool’s appreciation of the fire risk, however, appears different to the Chief Fire Officers Association whose advice is to not use the dryers until they have been modified. Meanwhile, customers still using their tumble dryers continue to be at risk and the un-modified machines continue to be a potential cause of fires in the home.
Jenny Gray, Keith Borer Consultants