/ Home & Energy

Which? launches a judicial review to push for action on Whirlpool

London Fire Brigade

Which? has commenced the formal process to judicially review Peterborough Trading Standards’ handling of the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue.

For those unfamiliar with this story, certain lines of Whirlpool tumble dryers sold under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan brands are at risk of catching fire.

Back in November, I wrote here on Which? Conversation about Whirlpool’s failings in assisting some customers who have fire-risk tumble dryers in their homes.

I emphasised that we’ve been highlighting the case in the media, meeting with key Government stakeholders and I also promised that we would continue to push hard for this issue to be resolved.

Today, we’ve done just that – by holding Peterborough Trading Standards to account for its role in the fiasco.

Trading Standards’ role

Whirlpool’s UK headquarters are located in Peterborough, so it’s Peterborough City Council’s Trading Standards department that has been dealing with the matter.

It has repeatedly told us that it’s advising Whirlpool in its capacity as Whirlpool’s ‘primary authority’. This is a voluntary arrangement, under which Trading Standards can help a business to comply with consumer protection rules.

When this system works well, it can have good outcomes for consumers and businesses alike. But being a ‘primary authority’ for a business doesn’t mean that a regulator can ignore its duty to enforce the law where this becomes necessary. And in this case, we believe the system has gone badly wrong.

Failing consumers

An investigation by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) recently concluded that a Whirlpool tumble dryer was to blame for a serious tower block fire in Shepherd’s Bush.

In light of the LFB’s report, we would expect Peterborough Trading Standards to put on its enforcement ‘hat’ and consider whether Whirlpool’s handling of the situation remained on the right side of the line.

We believe that Peterborough Trading Standards has failed consumers by not properly carrying out its role as an enforcer of product safety laws.

We’ve filed papers against Peterborough City Council, the Local Authority that the trading standards department forms part of, in the High Court to start this judicial review process.

We expect Peterborough Trading Standards to conduct a fresh, independent assessment of the risks posed to consumers by the millions of faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers that are still in people’s homes, and not shy away from enforcement action if it’s needed.

The court will now determine whether Which? should be granted permission to seek judicial review. If permission is granted, it will lead to a court hearing in 2017.

Product safety system

This case further highlights the many problems with the existing product safety system that is failing consumers and must be reconsidered by the government.

Today, I’ve also written to the Secretary of State, Greg Clark MP, and have discussed my concerns with Consumer Minister, Margot James MP. We want to see action not just in this case, but in all cases where product safety issues could put consumers at risk.




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Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter has a petition for a recall of the affected tumble dryers, following the fire at the Shepherd’s Bush tower bock: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/169835

At present, all we have is a safety notice. The London Fire Brigade advise owners to stop using their dryers, contrary to the advice from Whirlpool.


I am pleased that Which? has responded to the pressure, evidenced in Conversations, that people feel more should have been done by Europe’s largest consumer body.

It was reaching the stage where the charity was looking impotent, or unwilling, to do anything meaningful in a matter affecting millions.

It may have been that live and exhaustive testing proved that the threat that existed was slight as a percentage but important in terms of effects. And that religiously cleaning filters obviated the risk. We need to see an extended test to replicate the matter with machines run with regularly cleaned, and with dirty filters.

In this case we really have little factual information. Video is worth a thousand words when galvanising people to act to avoid a fire in their home.

The nub is here in the last paragraph of the Press release which really does seem to show PTS majorly obstructive:
” PTS has indicated to Which? that it will review the situation, but importantly it has refused to confirm that it will consider whether enforcement action should now be taken in its capacity as an enforcement authority. It has also refused to provide any details of the review, including when the review will take place, who will conduct it and on the basis of what information. This has left Which? with little choice but to ask the court to intervene.​”

I too am pleased to see this. I own a top of the range aqualtis drier. I had owned it 4 years before the recall even though I’m registered as an owner.
The modification was carried out less than 2 months ago and since then we have had to call them back 4 times , the last time was when the machine tripped the electricity supply in my property. Far from making my machine safe they made it worse and finally I insisted on a senior engineer who confirmed the engineer who did the modification had damaged the heating element causing it to overheat ! He also told us that the modification engineers are just that and not employed as full engineers. I have asked for new machine but told no as it can be repaired.
The level of customer service is appalling too . I have had appointments cancelled at short notice and not so much as a sorry . I’ve been left out of pocket and with shoddy dangerous workmanship.
Let’s hope they can finally sort the machine today .
Up untill this point I loved both my washer and drier both aqualtis and not cheap however this has left a bad taste and compounded by no response from head office where I have lodged a complaint .
I look forward to hearing the outcome !

Mike Cornes says:
23 December 2016

We received notification earlier this year that our Hotpoint machine was one affected. We contacted Whirlpool using the Freephone number supplied and they offered us a free modification or a brand new machine of our choice from a range of seven different models, 5 Hotpoint and 2 Indesit, at a reduced cost as low as £59.
We actually decided to have one their better machines at £95 and this included delivery, installation and removal of the old machine. The service was excellent, though we did need to wait a month from start to finish.
At all times the call centre staff stressed that if we continued to use the machine we should not leave it unattended, but in any event we decided not to take any chances and left the machine disconnected from the power supply.
Sorry about this, but I fail to see why Which is taking this action.

A wake up call for Peterborough Trading Standards and any other TS that, failure to protect UK consumers from the complacency and dereliction of big business is not acceptable.

I admire the patience and perseverance of some of the contributors to this conversation for highlighting the urgency and importance of what is, no doubt, a very dangerous situation and I sincerely hope Which? are successful in their endeavours to protect consumers from what amounts to negligence on the part of a large manufacturer of white goods to fulfill their obligation to produce and/or repair machines that are clearly not only unfit for purpose but also hazardous to operate.

At last something that seems like action. But we’ve had a lot of words for the last 13 months, that has not helped consumers. What we should have done is say exactly what we wanted Whirlpool to do that feasible and achievable, and no one has come up with a proposal – apart from some Convo regulars – so just what will this achieve?

I want to see an assurance that defective machines still met the requirements of the safety standard (BS EN 60335-1 and 2-11). Which?, and others including Peterborough Trading Standards, could have looked (and could still look) at this by inspection and testing. If they do not meet the EN standard, then a prosecution should ensue for putting non-compliant products on the market. If they do meet the standard then we should question whether the standard could be amended to deal with the safety problems brought to light in these appliances.

Our aims should be to adequately compensate and provide redress for those consumers who have been badly dealt with by Whirlpool and to ensure the safety of future products benefit from this experience.

Don’t forget that tumble dryers were causing house fires long before the Whirlpool models arrived. We need dryers and other appliances that are able to contain fire, so that a fire will go out rather than burn the house down. I am very disappointed that the current British Standards do not appear to include any requirement for appliances to contain fire and that manufacturers have moved to making extensive use of plastics in the construction of machines.

The Whirlpool issue has raised awareness and now could be a good time to look at making appliances safer. We have bemoaned the lack of responsiveness of Trading Standards over various issues on Which? Convo. Following on from the judicial review, might be an opportunity to raise awareness of the fact that as a result of continued underfunding, Trading Standards is no longer able to do the job it should be doing.

Peterborough TS took on this job to deal with Whirlpool and appears to have done it less than competently. I have pushed for Trading Standards to be restored to a properly-funded consumers’ watchdog, but we also need it to have the right people, properly trained and motivated, for it to function.

Which? is also a consumers’ watchdog and does, I think, need to get a better balance between words and headlines, and real investigation and action.

I dont profess to know anything about engineering but common sense tells me that if a filter is blocked, a warning signal should sound and/or a red light flashing (or both to assist people with sight or hearing problems) and the machine cutting out and prevented from operating until the blockage is cleared.

In an era where robotics are the norm and driverless cars are appearing in some places, is it not feasible to produce a domestic tumble dryer that is safe to use at all times in people’s homes?

These are International standards. I have repeatedly asked Which? whether they use their position, expertise and that of contributors to help in the development of improvements to these standards through BSI. No replies. So how do we, as consumers, have any effective voice if the only accessible association that is supposed to represent our interests appears to take…..no interest?

Hi Beryl,

The instructions are vey simple to follow: clean the filter before and/or after every use.

There is no need for any warning in that very easy to follow instruction.


Thank you Beryl. It is quite incredible that we ignore common sense. To give another example, we can still buy table lamps and light pendants that allow children (and adults) to poke their fingers into the live lampholder. Safer alternatives have been available for years but there is no legislation that requires their use.

In several languages, plus a picture. 🙂 Guess how many will ignore it? I don’t see how easy it would be to detect a “blocked” filter – by a pressure differential switch perhaps. Whether they would be sensitive enough , durable enough (something else to go wrong)……

Tumble dryers could still be misused by drying unsuitable material – contaminated by oil and solvents for example – and by switching off before the cooling down cycle has finished and leaving the contents in place to self ignite.

In the US they have been trying fire containment – I don’t know how extensively and they have not yet reported on how effective it might be in practice.

One method would be to use lower-temperature heaters that would not have the ability to ignite lint. That would extend the drying cycle time. Ken points out that would be unacceptable to many. So what price safety? Total safety please, so long as it causes no inconvenience?

We often use a clothes horse left in the kitchen overnight.

A lower temperature heater might be the way to go and would avoid most of the criticisms made of heat pump dryers other than extended drying time. According to a Miele instruction booklet there is still the danger that an over-dryed load could catch fire in a heat pump dryer. That did surprise me but maybe static electricity could start a fire. Sadly, low temperature may not be the whole solution.

I would be grateful if you can find out more about fire containment in US appliances. The problem is of course that we don’t have access to the full standards.

We have yet to explore what is happening in the rest of Europe.

Hi Kenneth,

Unfortunately human operators minds are not programmed quite the same way as machines! If Dyson can produce a cut out system on his vacuum cleaners when filters are blocked, is it not possible that engineers can do likewise on a more potentially hazardous piece of apparatus?

It’s simply just a matter of fail safe prevailing over occupational preconceptions.

That is true Beryl, however we’re all missing a very important point here.

There is no need to have a tumble dryer, mankind survived without such devices for millennia and there’s no right to own a tumble dryer.

As pointed out, there are other options.

Therefore people that *choose* to own one due to lifestyle or any other reason should be mindful of how that they are used and maintained and that is their responsibility and not that of any company. The user must take responsibility to care for any product correctly from my perspective.

Why should all suffer extra cost and/or hassle just because some people cannot do so?


I agree Wavechange, I recall an occasion as a youngster changing a lightbulb and putting my fingers instead of the bulb into the live socket! I soon learnt that it is much better to check the off switch before repeating the same process.

Kenneth, the dryer on my dual washing machine is never used, mainly because it adds too much onto my energy bill, but if people choose to buy an electrical appliance that they consider to be fail safe at the time of purchase and it transpires it is a potential fire hazard, then Trading Standards need to investigate.

In light of all the evidence contained in some of the Which? conversation responses, this would indicate a failure of PTS to implement the necessary action required to warn manufacturers to carry out the modifications required to ensure consumers appliances are fail safe with a cut off system activated when a filter becomed blocked

The onus and initial responsibilty remains with the manufacturer to produce such an appliance.

And yet, as stated by Whirlpool, TS and independent organisations, used and maintained correctly there is not a problem.

It is a precautionary safety notification that helps with safety.

One of the biggest fears I hold on this is that, after the modification is carried out people *assume* that it is completely safe without caring about what should be done in order to maintain that safety.

And, they are safe, if maintained in accordance with instruction.

If not, they become unsafe.

Just like if I buy a car and don’t use it responsibly, maintain the tyres, brakes and a myriad of other things it also becomes unsafe. Yet is my responsibility in law to ensure that vehicle is safe before taking it onto a public road. I’m responsible, me, not the company that built the car.

This is no different.

Or are you insinuating that manufacturers should treat all like completely incompetent idiots and wrap them in cotton wool?

Even at that, you could never remove all risk, that really isn’t possible.

As one of the guys uses on the forum as his signature, this quote from Douglas Adams sums that up well, “a common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”


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I agree. However some people will not have maintained their Indesit dryers with the design defect over the years and may have a significant build-up of lint in dangerous places. Too late for them to begin observing the maintenance instructions. So presumably these dryers pose a potential fire hazard until they are properly cleaned and the modification applied?

So long as lint doesn’t build up more to the point it touches the heater, there shouldn’t be an issue.

Therefore the answer is, it’s not too late to start maintaining correctly and, increases the level of safety by an order of magnitude.


Europe and the UK are one and the same as far as standards are concerned and are determined by the IEC. I have asked BSI if they will comment on the work done by UL in the US, and whether it is considered sensible to apply it to EN standards in future. Waiting for a response. Maybe Which? could add its weight to my request?

As far as I can see, in the US the 2017 National Electric Code requires all appliances operating at 50V or more to be listed ( listed : meets appropriate designated standards or has been tested and found suitable for a specified purpose). As states and counties in the US begin to apply the NEC electric clothes dryers will be required to be listed/certified using ANSI/UL2158 (the only applicable standard ). At present the standard is voluntary but in most cases manufacturers evaluate appliances to the standard for obvious reasons. The standard includes fire containment tests.

As I said above, evaluation of the effectiveness in practice is not yet available.

The US does not, as far as I can see, recommend “earthing every metal object”. UL2158 – Electric Clothes Dryers: an overview of changes Jan 2016 includes revised installation instructions, relating to non-current carrying metal parts…..not grounded in accordance with Clause 27.1.4 – “Certain internal parts are intentionally not grounded and may present a risk of electric shock only during servicing. Service Personnel – do not contact the following parts while the appliance is energized: (list of parts)

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duncan, you made a statement about practice in the US and I simply pointed out the statement appeared mistaken. The instruction refers to non-current carrying parts that I presume could only become hazardous under a fault condition – like a detached live wire coming into contact..

I agree with Duncan, that in so far as is reasonably practicable, all metal parts should be earthed, so that they cannot become hazardous to users, if they accidentally become live.

The ANSI standard quoted above does seem to give an exemption clause for internal parts that can only become exposed if the appliance is opened up for servicing. Having such a clause is probably good advice, otherwise a requirement to earth every metal part could be taken literally. For example, that would require any metal self tapping screws used to join two plastic parts to also be attached to some sort of earth wire.

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I don’t get what you are on about here.

All metal parts on a tumble dryer are earthed so far as I am aware. That is, so long as the home electrics are okay of course.

Case, drum, heater, motor, caps etc are all earthed.


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2 pages of BS EN 60335-1 (Household and similar electrical appliances – Safety) covers earthing in section 27. This follows standard practice, just as the US one does. If a metal part is unlikely to become live then it does not need earthing.

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If an accessible metal part is unlikely to become live then earthing is not required. This requirement does not apply to inaccessible metal parts. duncan – this is an electrical safety requirement, not to do with electrostatics.

I don’t know what work might have been done to see whether tumble dryers in practice have lint build up caused electrostatically. Have you any information duncan? (I may have forgotten).

Most all dryers are sold across the EU and AUS/NZ and yes, they’re all earthed. I’ve not come across one that was not as all the items inside will be screwed via a metal screw or fixing to the cabinet that is earthed.

Electrostatic therefore is not a problem I have ever come across from appliances other than when they are on some flooring that causes it.

US dryers, as I said before, are not the same.


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Duncan – it seems to me that tumble driers may, by chance, produce the sort of electrostatic effects that are deliberately used in an electrostatic precipitator. If so, then any charged lint fibres will actually tend to settle out on any earthed metal parts.

I am not sure where this comment is going to appear in the long thread bu it relates (a) to Beryl’s proposal that there should be a light and sound warning signal to indicate a blocked filter and a cut-out device to prevent operation until the filter has been cleaned, and (b) to Keneth Watt’s response along the lines that if people diligently follow the operating instructions there is no need for a warning.

Leaving aside the fact that many people regard the operating manual as useful guidance but not necessarily as critical safety instructions, I think the reason that Beryl’s suggestion is such a good one is that it is not just the person who presses the button to start the machine who is at risk. Any other person in the property [who might be asleep or actively engaged in some other pursuit] is also at risk and so are the next door neighbours or the people in the flat above or below in the event that a fire breaks out. Despite the obvious safety critical function of smoke detectors, not everybody tests them periodically, or replaces exhausted batteries, and some even disable them because they are so sensitive.

Like it or not functionality has to incorporate safety nets in order to reduce risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Every company says “public safety is our number one priority” but that needs qualifying in reality by the addition of “subject to economic circumstances and competitive pressures“.

There will be an engineering solution to the detection of a clogged filter so it is time it was found and installed. One possibility might be an internal vacuum system that would expel any material from the heater area at the end of each cycle or before the dryer starts its next one.

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Again Duncan, I’ve seen thousands of service reports and attended hundreds of dryers in the field.

To date, not a single one has had an issue with static.

US dryers tend to be larger, mounted on top of a huge washer and so are all too often completely different in their design when compared to far more compact and mostly ground standing EU type dryers. Perhaps they have issues due to that, I don’t know as I don’t bother too much with the US only machines as they are produced to complete different standards and, not always better far as I can tell.

I’ve not heard anything in the industry about that over the pond about it so I’m guessing it’s not being regarded as a major problem as I do get news on the industry from all over the globe.

If you have evidence of problems with static in EU type dryers I’d be more than happy to look at it as, I’ve not seen anything like that at all.


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I would like to make a few comments on today’s posts. I have no idea if static electricity is responsible for dryer fires but it is a well known issue in the food industry. Perhaps the best known example is dust explosions in flour mills. Conveyer belts can generate static in the same way that a Van de Graaff generator does – this device used to deliberately produce static electricity. Petrol and diesel flowing into a tank can generate static. In each case, earthing is used to prevent the risk of explosions and fire.

Turning to the dangers of mains electricity, which are not directly relevant here, I have never been happy with the standard of earth bonding in domestic equipment. Malcolm has pointed out that according to some standard: “If an accessible metal part is unlikely to become live then earthing is not required.” Unfortunately, unlikely events do happen, so I’m not impressed by that statement For example if water gets into electrical equipment and contacts live connections, this can make unearthed parts live and dangerous. Simple PAT-testing will reveal where earthing is inadequate.

As I stated below in response to Beryl, you cannot eliminate all risk completely. That applies to almost any endeavour let alone home appliances.

There will always be a circumstance, use case or whatever that as a manufacturer or designer you just cannot take account of.

Therefore Duncan, you cannot possibly with 100% certainty state categorically that any risk is completely removed and, anyone that does do that well, fool or liar, you decide.

Best you can do is to make it as safe as you possibly can given the information to hand and the resources you have available to you as well as taking into account any restraints.


And again… if it’s metal or carries electricity it is earthed to the cabinet and by default earthed to the socket earth, the home electrical system.

If that home electrical earth is faulty as many often prove to be…

Generally speaking, if someone gets a shock from an appliance in the past decade or three and all the more so in the home electrical system has RCD protection then it’s a fault with the wiring in the home, not the appliance/s.

It often appears to me that some finds it easier to blame some faceless corporation.

Not that I’m defending them in any way as that’s counter to my sentiment about many but, you need hard evidence if you want to start shouting from the rooftops. Or, especially from where I sit, expect to find yourself in court defending a slander/libel action. Words must be carefully chosen. 😉

You need hard, incontrovertible evidence to do much of anything and I’m sure Which?, myself and others are all to aware of that. Mere opinion or rhetoric is not sufficient enough to do anything,

When it comes to electrical safety with appliances most repairers and reputable ones at any rate will be able to carry out an earth loop impedance test, essentially stressing the earth circuit and ensuring that is is to be blunt, beyond safe as its a 500V test to check earth bonding.

As a field service tech you do that when there is an issue or suspicion that there’s an issue. No point if all is well if you ask me but some manufacturers/brands will insist upon it as a matter of course.

Honestly, for most service calls it’s pointless. All it does is underline and cover backsides, no more.

Where there’s an issue with tripping or electrical weird stuff going on, it’s essential.

So I ask you, if the general run of things can put up with a 500 Volt test that is beyond twice the supposed voltage at the socket and that’s out the box design, how electrically unsafe do you really think appliances in the main actually are from an electrical standpoint?

Yet we still occasionally see blown components due to over-voltage. Hmm, wonder why that is!

Methinks that sometimes, people are looking at the wrong scapegoat.


Duncan, according to KW this seems to be a somewhat academic discussion, but a isolated and charged negative pole will repel negatively charged lint and attract positively charged lint, until it acquires enough +ve charges to repel any further lint.

Unlike tubed TVs, I doubt that tumble driers will contain any exposed live electrodes are at significantly elevated DC potentials. They will however, contain some earthed metal objects, including perhaps the metal outer surfaces of heating elements (the old one I used to one certainly did, at if tended to collect dust and/or lint).

In an electrostatic precipitator (ESP), a stream of chemically uniform particles pass through. Because they are all the same material, they won’t get electrostatically charged by rubbing against each other. However, we can charge them up if by using a thin charged wire to produce a corona discharge. (Photocopiers and laser printers used to use such wires too, to get toner to stick to drums.)

So an ESP first uses corona wires to produce a stream of charged particles and then uses electrostatic forces to accelerate these towards any earthed electrodes that are downstream of the corona wires.

If we suppose the charge on each particle is +q, then there will also be a voltage or potential associated with each particle. As many electrical engineers will know, if you charge you’ll get the VC.

So the electrostatic potential, V, for a particle is equal to +q/C, where +q is its +ve charge and C is its effective capacitance.

Then if there is earthed metal a distance d away, the local electric field, E, will be approximately E = -V/d and the force on the particle will be F = qE = -qV/d. The negative sign shows that the force is attractive, i.e. it will act to reduce d by moving the particle towards the earthed metal.

I think the same principles would apply in a drier, and if clothes made from dissimilar materials are present, e.g. wool and nylon, then charging may be possible, if those materials rub together.

In tumble driers, the heater is normally just after the air intake , so if a vented drier is used with a duct, not much lint should reach the heater, but ordinary room dust will be able to do that.

The danger with trying to paraphrase two pages of the BS EN’s earthing requirements is of misinterpretation. The section begins – “Accessible metal parts of….Class 1 appliances that may become live in the event of an insulation fault shall be permanently and reliably connected to an earthing terminal within the appliance or the earthing contact of the appliance inlet”.

Simon B says:
2 February 2017

Hi Kenneth,

The instructions are indeed simple and easy to follow but you make a massive assumption, that regular cleaning will prevent fluff passing further inside the tumble dryer, it does not. In the case of my tumble dryer I believe the design of the fluff filter is fundamentally flawed as it allows fluff to flow deeper inside the tumble dryer during use, cleaning the filter after use is not enough. My machine was less than 12 months old, was cleaned regularly BEFORE any safety notice was issued and despite this, when I removed the vent pipe at the rear of the dryer, fluff build up was clearly visible. My machine has finally been modified by Indesit (but only after I took the retailer to the small claims court and won, but that’s another story!) and the modification was not to stop getting fluff getting further inside the dryer, it was to stop fluff getting anywhere near the heating element.


Simon, that is very interesting. I have been asking Which? (or someone who is bothered) to test affected machines to see just what does happen to them in use, and even whether they meet the requirements of the safety standard. If the past 16 months had been used to do some real work on this front, instead of just writing articles, we might have something worthwhile to discuss. I have been in contact with BSI who tell me they have an active working group looking at the possibilities of fires in domestic appliances; they are the UK’s agent that contribute to the international committees that produce the safety standards that, in the EU, must be met before a product can be sold. The public can easily make comments and proposals to BSI for consideration; details are on their website if you are interested.

Hi Simon,

It often won’t. You will often see machines in the field with some fluff/lint in them even when maintained as some of it can be very fine, but…

It depends on what you dry, how often the filter is cleaned, what the loading is like… there are variables and one size does not fit all.

For example, if you overload it with towels (which often give off copious amounts of lint) then the filter will block very quickly, blocking airflow and forcing the air through the drum seal/s until it gets to the point where it overheats and cuts out on the safety.

From a technical standpoint, as there is air through the thing and that *must* flow freely for it to work, there is no way to eliminate all possibly “stuff” being carried into the dryer cavity. It’s just not possible to do.

However I don’t understand what you mean by your comment that “I believe the design of the fluff filter is fundamentally flawed as it allows fluff to flow deeper inside the tumble dryer during use”.

How so? The shape of the filter really isn’t all that important so long as the design accommodates it and there are a myriad of ways to do the same thing in effect.


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Here is an example of lint getting into the works of a tumble dryer:

Credit: https://mjhservices.wordpress.com

Sadly it is all too common to see stuff like that.

And irrespective of the brand, that can prove dangerous.


You have explained one reason why the problem can arise – failure to clean the lint filter.

An interlock would force users to clean the filter and putting the dryer in an all-metal case could contain a fire that started for any reason.

Yes, one reason is that along with some others given previously.

An interlock would only be able to hold the door closed whilst it’s energised, it won’t do anything else.

So you’d need to dream up some way of detecting that the filter needed cleaned and sure, you can use air pressure which has been tried and failed or you could use optical sensors but that means having holes in the filter and they will prove highly unreliable in a heavy dust application. Then you’d need to come up with the software, add all the electronics and so on to make it all work. In short, there’s not an easy answer.

Hence, not a single domestic manufacturer does it. Oh and it’s flaky so users get irritated as they prove so unreliable.

And yet again, it’s pretty much in an all metal case. And, again, there is not a single bit of evidence to indicate that would solve anything or make anything any better.

Give me evidence and I’ll happily look into it for myself but, knowing a lot more about appliances and the industry than most I can tell you as a straight up fact based on all the evidence available to date, that would make not one jot of difference to these instances.


I am referring to an interlock that requires the user to remove and clean the filter, not a door interlock. I agree that a pressure differential sensor would be unlikely to be unreliable in this sort of application and said so before you joined the discussion. There are various possible interlock systems that could be devised. For example, you could have have a reset button that must be pressed before each cycle but to access it the filter needs to be removed. This sort of interlock is simple, inexpensive and reliable. There is always the possibility that the dirty filter if the user was daft enough tor replace it without cleaning, but hopefully most would have more sense.

At one time, not one car had dual-circuit brakes or seat belts but we moved on, and maybe the industry might see the value of interlocks on dryers.

The use of metal cases for containment of fire is well established even if the white goods industry has not recognised this approach.

A door safety interlock is not intended for that purpose in the industry and would require monumental change to institute as well as the reeducation of users in the use.

In order to achieve that, you’re back to altering standards and it’d need to be at best pan-European but probably global as it would affect a number of territories. They will not change just for the UK, cheaper and more efficient just to cease selling in such a small market.

And you are correct, people would just pull the filter up, plug it back in and get on. I’d bet dollars to donuts some people would do that. The daft things some people do never ceases to amaze me, there’s always another way to break things nobody thought about.

Hypothetically, possible but highly unlikely to fly even before you consider cost.

And again, they’re already in a metal case!!!


Once again, I am not referring to a door interlock.

Have a look at the photos I have posted. They show burned or melted fascias and sometimes the lid where that is plastic too. If the machine goes on fire for any reason, the fire can spread.

You said, interlock? The only “interlock” in the appliance industry is a door safety interlock, probably as that’s about the only element you can mechanically “lock”.

I’ve seen the photos, many of them. So what that they have burnt plastics, it’s a fire for goodness sakes, of course stuff is gonna burn, kind of goes with the territory.

The lid *IS NOT PLASTIC**!!!

How many ways and how many times will I have to state that?

The trim *MAY* be plastic but the lid is not, ever that I’ve ever seen. If you say they are plastic, please provide evidence of this as I’ve not seen that.

Or maybe, the standard should be altered to make kitchen cabinets that surround them more fire retardant or perhaps ban flammable materials in a kitchen… I fear you tread into territory where “reasonable” leaves the conversation.

And in all that, still zero evidence that what you suggest is true or that the measure you suggest would make one iota of a difference.

If anyone wants change, with no evidence its won’t happen IMO as nobody will waste time or money solving a problem that doesn’t exist.


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You are again relying on an optical sensor of sorts that will get covered in fluff, lint or general debris and dust so it will prove unreliable in use.

That’s why they all dropped turbidity sensors in washer and dishwashers, they prove far too unreliable in field use. Theoretically it’s a great idea and makes perfect sense, until you give it to people to actually use.

Keep in mind that you suggest this to tackle the problem of people not cleaning the filter/s so, what do you reckon the chances are that they will clean the filter and an additional sensor?

Then when it fails and, it will fail and people are being charged even in warranty to send someone round to clean it it’ll give rise to complaints about that even if it is nothing to do with an actual fault as such. Any manufacturer will avoid that if possible.

Proximity sensors or occupancy sensors are the holy grail of home automation, a topic I do know a good deal about and, they are notoriously unreliable in any low cost simplistic form. Once you get into using cameras and a bunch of software the cost ramps up exponentially.


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Duncan, nothing to stop proposals being put to the BSI working group dealing with fire risks in domestic appliances. I have posted a link; BSI welcome public comment. I can give it again if anyone needs it.

Kenneth – Interlocks don’t have to be mechanical. Many are electrical. I suspect that you would have to look outside the white goods industry, but I have seen simple electrical interlocks in commercial equipment built in the 1960s.

Even if we ignore the lids there is no doubt that plastic is used for the fascia of modern tumble dryers and washing machines, meaning that they are unlikely to contain a fire that starts for any reason. A fire in a traditional metal dustbin will go out if you put on the lid and deprive the fire of oxygen. To turn a dustbin into an incinerator, all you need is to make some holes in the metal. That’s what you get when plastic burns away in an appliance fire, and the fire can spread.

There is scope to make kitchens safer. Deep fat fryers are a safer alternative to traditional chip pans. Heat alarms are commonly found in rental properties and may be a requirement. In 1980 I put out a chip pan fire when the alarm sounded in a neighbour’s flat. Fire doors are used in buildings to delay the spread of fire.

If we can save a people’s homes burning down and save a few lives with simple and fairly expensive design improvements in the design of white goods then I believe that it is worth doing. People often pay £500 or more for smartphones, so maybe there is scope for the white goods industry to make products safer, and I don’t believe that it would cost much to provide dryers etc. with all-metal cases.

wavechange, I am perfectly aware of what an interlock is, how they work and numerous iterations and format of them, I do not need lectured on the use of them and especially so with appliances.

Commonly within the appliance industry they are electro-mechanical in nature, not simply mechanical. They are designed that way and implemented to offer maximum security and safety.

If you do not understand how these devices are used within appliances I’d suggest you learn or refrain from commenting on a topic that you clearly hold a limited knowledge of.

And again, there’s a bit of plastic, so what?

Where is the evidence, any evidence whatsoever that this presents any danger or is a problem in any way?

As yet I have seen none from within or from outside the appliance industry.

I am not an idiot not need to be spoken to as one, I understand how fire works in confined spaces and don’t need to be lectured on that either. But once again, the biggest cause of kitchen fires is cooking products… **NOT** tumble dryers. I would think that a far more pressing safety concern than other appliances but, we’ve discussed that in the past.

But you’re addressing a problem, appliance fires, that is minute in reality. It is statistically bordering on insignificant and there’s again, no evidence to say otherwise.

And, once again, any change would have to be universal across multiple territories and would require a change in international standards or I would very seriously doubt any would be implemented.

I completely agree on the cost front versus safety however, were the products made more durable and reliable I believe that greater customer care and safety would follow as it’s a larger investment, therefore worth looking after.

And yes, it cracks us up all the time when you roll up to someone’s home with a <£200 washer or whatever and there's a BMW or two on the driveway, mobile phones, tablets and PCs scattered about, a big flat screen TV and so on yet the owner complains the machine is rubbish. Yeah, wonder why that is and it's often on many of the field techs to tell people that they've got their priorities all wrong.

Of course you can't do that, talking plainly to people will have the customer service police hunting you down. 🙁


“simple and fairly expensive design improvements”. I assume you might have meant “inexpensive”? I also agree that improvements to safety are always worthwhile. They do need to be practical, fairly foolproof , genuinely effective and deal proprtionately with a risk. With respect, while all we well-meaning amateurs can come up with what we think are good ideas, at some point we need to respect that those with real expertise in the field need to be trusted to evaluate the possibilities and reach a sensible conclusion. This is why I keep suggesting that, rather than just bouncing thoughts around in a Convo that get no further, they are addressed to those who are in a position to take action. In the case of the UK, that is BSI who have a portal for the public – any individuals or groups – to make contributions. This is in addition to the usual broad spectrum represented on technical committees and working groups.

Personally, as Which? test products, hear from Members through surveys or directly, monitor what is said in Convos, they should be in a good position to put a summary together. If their staff team does not have the necessary background to do this then they could call on Members who have such expertise – they have 1 million to ask so it is likely enough could be found (one contributes regularly here). Maybe form a technical Committee to help Which?. Then put proposals on behalf of consumers to BSI. I am waiting to hear just how Which? currently engages with BSI and standards.

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Kenneth – I would have assumed that you are familiar with different forms of interlocks but looking back at your posts it seemed that you did not understand the points I was making.

I am well aware that many fires are related to cooking. Smoking and drinking alcohol are other well recognised factors.

I want to see household appliances designed to be safer and I believe that this can be done at reasonable cost. Like Malcolm, I would Which? to take action on behalf of the public.

We also need Trading Standards to accept that their role is not just one of a deterrent to large manufacturers but one of action also. To critisize third party intervention could continue, involving a third or fourth ad infinitum, leading to too much spurious talk and no undertaking.

I very much hope that Which? will take up the problem of Trading Standards failing to tackle important issues, which needs to be addressed by government.

We contacted them regarding our Indesit Tumble Dryer, around the same time as our daughter. She had the new part fitted after waiting over a year. Since the new part was fitted, she’s now had trouble with the heating element, because her items are not drying properly. On the back panel wires etc are fixed which have to be removed to fit the new part. She’s contacted them but is frustrated at the lack of follow up service.
We’re still waiting out tumble dryer being fixed. Its been over a year and a half.
I take it Whirlpool have inherited a white elephant.

Hi I posted on here earlier . This is a problem that is happening a lot. I’m in a terrible situation where their modification has actually damaged my heating element and it’s took 3 visits to discover what was going on and might I add it was tripping my electricity too . They should have come today but cancelled without telling me as again they don’t have the part and I’m left high and dry again .they have lied to me twice today and I’ve contacted trading standards and they were of no help either

According to consumer law, if a repair has not been effective then you are entitled to either a further repair, a reduction in price and keep the dryer (no point), or a partial refund depending upon the amount of use you have had. However, for some reason legal redress seems to have been shelved as a solution for consumers.

This is a total disgrace.

I have waited months for my modification and had to deal with extremely rude staff at call centres. They have repeatedly told me I would be called back by the planning department but never am. I bought this product in good faith just a year ago. I think there should be a recall of all the machines and monies refunded.

The fact that a major manufacturer is willing to risk customers lives means I will never buy another product from this group.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, if you reported the problem of an unsafe appliance within 6 months of delivery, you should have the choice of a repair (done without undue inconvenience) or a replacement. Your choice. Why has Which? not sought to have this consumer’s legal rights invoked?

I suspect that because the machines have been declared unsafe then a pre-existing fault is admitted, so Sale of Goods Act claims for 6 years (5 years) should also be valid. Why has Which? and Peterborough Trading Standards once again not required customers’ legal rights to be observed? Nothing PTS have agreed to should over-ride the law.

Simon B says:
2 February 2017

On the 28th October 2016 I had my moment before a judge in the small claims court and was awarded in my favour the sum of £175 (including costs).

My claim was against Dixons/Carphone Warehouse who I bought the dryer off. A week before the court appearance Dixons wrote to the court to say they would not be attending after spending the previous 7 months trying to bury me in the paperwork of their many legal responses to my claim.

The judgement went in my favour not for any reasons of fire safety, rather, it was based on me being a single guy living alone, occupied in a trade that can result in a build up of dirty clothes and that having to babysit a tumble dryer was an unreasonable expectation… as part of my claim I had argued that had I known about having to babysit the dryer I would not have bought it.

The bulk of my claim was based on the issue of fire safety. I asked many questions of Dixons and they were not forthcoming with some answers. They argued that the machine was safe to use provided the fluff filter was cleaned regularly and that it was not left unattended. I rhetorically asked how my presence alone could magically prevent it spontaneously combusting before stating it obviously couldn’t. Rather, my presence was needed in case of a fire so I asked the real question, in the event of a fire, what was I to do? What was the right response to an fire in my dryer and what was the appropriate fire extinguisher? I never received a response to this question. I also asked what risk assessment had Dixons made to justify their statement that the dryer was safe to use or had they had access to the risk assessment Indesit had carried out. Again, no response. Risk Asessments are somewhat derided these days but surely this is an example where one surely was needed. I would be surprised Indesit haven’t written one but they seem very reluctant for it to be made public!

I purchased a new Indesit tumble dryer in April 2015 as a replacement for my trusty Beko and was immediately taken by the design of the fluff filter compared to my Beko. The Beko was two-sided while the Indesit was one sided, I immediately thought this would mean it was not only less effective at trapping and holding fluff but that fluff might actually pass into the dryer itself during the drying cycle, regardless of how often you clean the fluff filter. I therefore decided I had to be doubly diligent in making sure it was cleaned after every drying. Despite this, 9 months later I had reason to move the dryer and so took the opportunity to remove my vent pipe and look into the back of the dryer. Guess what? Yes, loads of fluff!

@patrick, I wonder if the author of this Convo (P V-S) or someone else would like to comment on Simpon B’s court experience. it does seem extremely relevant to the point mase in the past about unacceptable inconvenience caused to affected owners, and the justification for compensation perhaps? Maybe Which? could pursue this approach as well?

It is good to hear from someone prepared to take action, Simon. I don’t have articles to hand but I have seen advice to vacuum ducting and hoses used with vented tumble dryers. Fire statistics show there is a general problem with tumble dryers, and not just the more serious issue with the Whirlpool brands.

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I continually, like yourself, propose actions. There is a time when the talking has to stop…….or at least when it is largely exhausted, do something constructive. A concerted action on behalf of all consumers might have achieved some compensation for them while Whirlpool slowly sorts their machines out. At the same time we might have uncovered the problems behind the design of these dryers to improve matters for the future. Simon’s investigation perhaps shows a cause that needs to be dealt with that an interlock would not have prevented. We can learn from real experiences.

The salient problem here is manufacturers failing to carry out the necessary modifications which will assist or lessen the probability of tumble dryers catching fire, which begs the question, if there was no fail safe problem, why is it necessary to implement modifications to a problem if one doesn’t exist?

Clearly the admission that modifications are necessary means there is a problem. The action and objective taken by Which? surely is to seek jurisdiction to induce PTS to implement what they are paid to do and protect consumers from manufacturers failing to modify their appliances.

For the record, the definition of fail safe: “A system or plan that comes into operation in the event of something going wrong or that is in place to prevent such an occurrence.” That in itself is grounds for governmental enforcement.

That’s an easy one to answer Beryl.

If the dryers are not maintained as they should be lint builds up and in extreme cases can be lit by the heater.

The terminology used for such things along the lines of “in rare cases” or words to that effect is corporate PR speak that in this case almost certainly translates to, “when people do the wrong or daft things” but they can hardly say that can they?

So whilst I have no love for Whirlpool I have to admit that taking the action that they have done is a bold move and I think a responsible one as, they could have after all, simply told it as it is and put it down to user error.

Instead they’ve tried to do something to help people that perhaps aren’t as fastidious as they ought to be in cleaning the filter as, that is the sole cause of this where there isn’t a front bearing collapse. And a bearing collapse, an owner would know all about only too well.

And in doing that all they seem to be getting is absolute grief, talk of claims here there an everywhere, abuse from owners, calls from all to do more and more that really isn’t possible. All the while looking at a massive black hole in the books due to the cost.

In the face of that, is it any wonder companies will do all they can to avoid carrying out such recalls?

I can just imagine other companies staring down the barrel of a similar problem in the future and thinking to themselves that perhaps they better not do the right thing as it could kill the business. Instead just try to sweep it under the carpet until it all blows over if at all possible.

Therefore you have to ask, is calling for heads on a pike really the right course of action or, should such things be encouraged and sentiments tempered with some compassion for *all* the parties involved.

Otherwise, you might make things worse, not better.


Kenneth, first and foremost one needs to accept a problem exists. If you can’t then any discussion is sterile and time wasting.

Highly intelligent humans are quite capable of forgetting to clean a filter on occasion and it is well known the problem can worsen with age, therefore a fail safe mechanism to prevent a possible fire that can endanger other people’s property as well as your own is an essential addition to any household electrical appliance. I repeat, if Dyson has introduced this into his vacuum cleaners then why not tumble dryers?

To do nothing in this case is not really an option and will not solve any problems and so fires will continue in overheated tumble dryers, but to deny that it exists is unproductive and ineffectual.

I do accept there’s a problem for sure, that people do not clean or maintain their appliances in a manner that they should and often that is even acceptable.

To flip that around, if people are not to accept that all too often if not in virtually all cases that this is a result of user behaviour or lack thereof then the conversation is merely demands for the impossible and not a discussion.

But from what you’ve said I get the impression that regardless you will blame any company for whatever, just so long as it’s not the user at fault and some big bad company can be put to the stake it’s fine.

That will not solve the problem.

What action to you suggest companies should take against people that falsely claim that they maintained the machine correctly, go on the local news or even national telling everyone how terrible the company is but, it turns out it was their own stupidity or laziness that led to the issue?

Or how do you educate people that, if they want stuff to last, they need to look after it?

Or is are you adopting the position that none of that matters, it’s all the company’s problem and that we should live in a completely nanny state with the general public responsible for nothing at all? Because from my perspective, that’s pretty much what you’re saying.

All I am saying is that users of products, myself included, just accept that we have responsibility as well.

Dyson can do it because it’s a stream of air through a very narrow space and, same problem sort of, if you fail to clean the filters on a Dyson it burns out the motor with some almost going on fire.

The air through a dryer moves a lot slower, unless you wish your laundry almost shredded by high air throughput and you have to deal with heat in it, not a problem a vacuum cleaner has.

You also have overloading in dryers that will give the same reduced airflow. Large items could, Trapped items should… all issues that a vacuum leaner does not have.

You also have a very dense filter in a vac that resides in a relatively small sealer area, not so in a dryer, the filter is much larger.

In summary, you are comparing apples to oranges o a degree.

Some did try filter lights, Miele and Bosch if I recall. They didn’t work too well, people complained about them, they scrapped them.

Fires will always happen on dryers. Always, you’ll never stop it completely. Lessen it, maybe but never stop it.

They get hot, hot enough to dry clothing in a short time so, hot enough that under very rare circumstances they can potentially go on fire.

Just as cooler an, a toaster, a car, a computer, a boiler…. the list is endless.


Here are some figures for fires in household electrical products: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33124925

Some people live in flats and tower blocks. They may be meticulous about cleaning their dryer filter but what if the the person downstairs is not? The tower block fire in Shepherd’s Bush could have cost lives.

One of my points encapsulated well WC.

Why should people doing the best they can or the proper thing suffer because of those that do not?

Most often that isn’t a huge issue other than perhaps a financial one but if it affects the safety of other people around the person that shows scant regard for their own and other’s safety then I have a bit of a problem with that.

So should everyone else.


A healthy constructive debate where solutions are found consists not of assumptions but positive hard evidence, which Wavechange has provided in his above post.

Kenneth asserts that people should, but some do not clean their tumble dryer filters as often as they should, causing them to overheat and catch fire. That is undeniable and rather obvious to everyone. In light of this reality, all electrical appliances should have a fail safe system installed as a preventative measure to stop this occurring = no more fires = solution. To insist that the onus always lies 100% with the user in order to let the used off the hook is rather counter productive and impedes any positive progress.

People, like machines can malfunction from time to time as one relies on the other to function efficiently. In order to protect those malfunctioning people, machines should be modified to make allowance for this common and all too frequently occurring problem.

It is the role of Trading Standards to oversee these modifications are implemented in accordance with normal Health and Safety procedures.

Merry Christmas Kenneth 🙂

It’s not that really Beryl, over the time I’ve been involved with appliances I have seen so many “features” introduced that have proved unsuccessful or, there’s been no take up on them or, people just complain about them especially so if they impede on normal operations often proving to be regarded by users as “inconvenient”.

I also know that manufacturers in a highly competitive and price sensitive marketplace (which is driven by consumers) will not add additional cost unless they are forced to do so.

You can do that two ways, legislate or alter the demand.

Legislation takes years, to change the energy label takes 10 years or more government tells me therefore, if that’s what’s to be done the requirement may well change or, even be no longer needed but the time that gets done.

Which leaves you with, change consumer demand.

If people ask for it, manufacturers will provide it and market competition will see to that. If they don’t, they won’t.

So the way I see it and I know companies will argue, there’s no demand for it and there’s no requirement in law for it and theres no statistical safety problem so why should they do anything at all that would cost them money or make them uncompetitive?

In short, there’s no incentive for producers to do anything.

Then toss into the mix that the “problem” is not a result of any issue with the machines and that the instances where there is an issue are comparatively to the number in operation, tiny, statistically not even much of a blip.

Let me put that into perspective a little, from all appliances you have more chance of injury falling out of bed, being in a plane crash and so on than having a serious problem let alone it leading to injury. They are in fact incredibly safe things these days.

When you see media hoopla like this you may be given the impression that this is frequent, common and there’s thousands or millions of products that are potential death traps but, reality is, they’re not.

After you dig behind the glorified headlines and get to actual facts you begin to understand why that as there’s no public safety issue or problem far as government is concerned there’s no need for any action.

The only reason they’ve even taken any interest is due to the media coverage, were it not for that this would have dropped off the radar months ago but, it makes good copy. And there’s any number of people/organisations benefitting from the exposure it brings to them.

We had Alice Beer at our conference this year looking to get repairers on camera we believe reinforcing the views that were being touted and you know what, from over 120 industry people there, over 60 field service techs, not a single one would say this was anything other than what I’ve told you all.

If you think this opinion is only mine, that would not be correct.

Then you get to, these machines are a luxury, not a necessity by any stretch of the imagination.

What you end up at is, nobody cares as it’s not a significant problem at all on a luxury item that is not expensive, cheap in fact in relative terms. One that a tiny minority of people do not use or maintain correctly that ends up in a major problem and, it is a tiny number of big issues as we’ve seen in the reports of late.

If you look as I have at the stats, the number of fire related incidents with dryers hasn’t changed really at all. The only conclusion you can draw from that is that, as there’s no surge of incidents, this whole debacle probably wasn’t ever a real problem and that no more than is usual are bursting into flames.

If it were a major issue, given these are the most popular dryers sold in the UK, you would expect to see them bursting into flames all the time all over the place but, that simply isn’t happening.

You would also expect to see more as they are way more common than even the closest rival in the market.

Anyone can shout about it, scream, make whatever demands they like but I very much doubt that any action will ever be taken.

But it makes a great story on a slow news day. Big bad corporation is putting all these people’s safety at risk.. yada, yada, blah, blah.

Only trouble is, it’s not really a true, full and factual portrayal of the situation.


The whole Whirlpool episode, constructive comments from contributors, pleas from affected consumers, is surely a case for Which? to set up a technical committee so that as well as issuing headlines, it can consider problems properly, expertly and knowledgeably and agree on appropriate and realistic actions that can be taken. This should involve routine involvement with other organisations that are in a position to act on proposals in a constructive manner – including BSI.

Regarding my earlier post . Hotpoint have failed to turn up and when I rang in they told me the engineer was running late . I then called an hour later to be told my appointment was cancelled and no one had informed me ! Bunch of liars

Arnold Retriever says:
23 December 2016

Well done Which.
Peterborough City Council has been a very poor authority ever since it became a Unitary.
Let us hope that more joint working with Cambs CC will ensure an injection of professionalism to its operation.

I must disagree with those contributors who say that it is a simple matter of regularly cleaning the filters. There are instances of people who HAVE regularly done so, and yet their machines have caught fire. Others who have had so-called “modifications” carried out on their machine, and have still had fires. Also, when we bought our machine, it was considered safe to leave a dryer running during the night, or when we were going out. This is no longer the case. I am disgusted that Parliament has not stepped into this dispute. Only Whirlpool’s profit margin is being considered, NOT our safety.

HI Jack,

So far there have been no results published of the root cause therefore it is impossible to state categorically that people have or have not cleaned the filter as they should have.

Every single one I’ve read about almost without exception, the owner states that they cleaned the filter.

If that’s the case then, what’s going on fire then as, there isn’t any other fuel source?

As I also said, if that maintenance is ignored then modified or not, they are a fire risk or can be. Any brand, any model.

I cam also tell you that every single customer tells us on service lines that they’ve cleaned the filter regularly when asked and, kick off when they are found to be blocked and they get charged for cleaning them. That is not an uncommon occurrence, most service techs doing warranty work will see that at least once a day, that’s how common it is.

Usually followed by claims that the customer didn’t do it.

Techs have been accused on planting stuff there.

Factory accused that they put it there, it was defective like that from new, you name we’ve heard it.

Sadly, there is evidence that proves the opposite to be true and it really puts service people in a tough spot as, you’ve basically got no choice but to demonstrate that the owner is either lying or that there are multiple users and someone isn’t doing what they should.

No appliance should be left on completely unattended, period. It is not safe to do so or at least, that is my opinion and that of many others.

Let me ask you though, why do you think that it all goes very quiet afterwards? Could it perhaps be that there was no case to answer on the part of the manufacturer? And if it were all a big cover up then they’re all doing the same thing in unison which I would think impossible, they can’t even organise themselves let alone a co-ordinated conspiracy and, someone would spill the beans.

On government stepping in, see above.


AMoss says:
26 December 2016

Firstly it is not clear what WHICH? actually want PTS to do – do they want them to prosecute for putting an unsafe product on the market – more more likely I suspect they want them to recall all the machines (which will have huge ramifications for the company).

(for the record, WHICH? could prosecute Whirlpool directly if they wanted to)

When considering a recall you have to consider risk and proprotionality – if there are millions of these machines out there and there have been a few fires then the company may have a good argument that a recall is not necessary.

A judical only looks at whether the Trading Standards decision follwoed procedure and I presume a reasonable one.

Secondly, it has been suggested TS could either force refunds* or force Whirlpool to offer quicker remedies – TS do not have the power to do either as enforcerers so a judicial review will make no difference.

*a refund is a matter between the customer and the retailer not the manufacturer.

It will be helpful if WHICH? could release more detail about what they are seeking. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and demand a recall but I suspect if you are the people that carry the can for doing so (Trading Standards) then its a lot harder.

We are short of information but I believe there have been more than a few fires. For Whirlpool to have issued a safety notice, presumably they have evidence that the dryers are at higher risk of catching fire than other models sold by the company and other companies. I don’t believe that we have seen the company respond to the recommendation by the London Fire Brigade and others that the affected machines should not be used until modified. I agree that it would be helpful if Which? could explain their intentions in more detail.

I see this as a much bigger issue. For years there have been fires in tumble dryers. In a tumble dryer, users are putting fabrics that will burn in a box containing a powerful heater. It seems unlikely that we will prevent fires but if the dryers were better designed, the fire could be contained to prevent the fire spreading. Modern dryers often have plastic top, fascias and doors that can burn or melt, making it easy for fire to spread. I’m disappointed in the entire industry and not just Whirlpool.

I suspect that one of the issues is that Peterborough City Council were delinquent in not pressing Whirlpool to reduce the fire risk by carrying out modifications to, or replacing, tumble dryers in a timely and compliant manner with the least inconvenience to owners. PCC accepted Whirlpool’s action plan but it has turned out to be inadequate and the Council failed to satisfy itself that it had required the company to undertake all appropriate actions within a reasonable timescale. There is no reason why Whirlpool could not have involved other manufacturers in its replacement programme or organised the modifications in a more expeditious manner. It is not even clear whether Whirlpool were prompted by the trading standards department to do more to ascertain a fuller list of all affected machines through advertising or direct mail. Did Whirlpool request every distributor or retailer to check their customer records and identify the initial destination of all sales?

One of the points made in respect of the logistics of rectifying the hazardous machines is that there is a shortage of technicians, so, instead of such precious resources driving round the country on house calls, why were machines not collected by delivery drivers and brought back to the factory or service centres for repair under workshop conditions?

Peterborough TS put themselves in effective charge of the operation by allowing Whirlpool to act in the way they have done. Even at this stage, an official recall would require a much more reliable process for dealing with the problem.

If a remedy has to be proportionate to the risk it would be interesting to learn what risk assessment was undertaken and how any priority for remedy was developed, or was it just first come first served?

Whereas refunds are the liability of the retailer, Whirlpool effectively sidestepped the retailers and took ownership of the problem [no doubt because it was more manageable in their own interests that way] so it is not unreasonable for people to look to Whirlpool for compensation and for Whirlpool to be held liable for failure to comply with the law as a direct result of PCC’s complacent acceptance of their remediation scheme.

It seems to me to be entirely right to take action against Peterborough City Council because its approval of Whirlpool’s action plan is effectively Whirlpool’s defence against any action against themselves. It will be for Which? to demonstrate to the Court that PCC either did not do things it should have done [tick], or did things it should not have done [tick], or both [tick].

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They don’t have workshops to take machines back to John.

The days of uplifting LDAs for repair are long, long gone.

Therefore, they don’t have the infrastructure to even contemplate that as an option.


There is no choice but to use plastics for some parts such as the facia and other bits due to current, existing, safety legislation.

Components that can be touched must remain below certain temperatures and that’s the only way to practically do that, use plastics. And as they’ve got electrical components behind them it makes total sense to try to isolate those from the user or they could quite likely end up with poorer electrical safety.

You could perhaps get round that but it’d mean cooling fans for the facia and so on so I doubt very much it’d be practical and only adds something else to go wrong asides the cost.


Kenneth – In an emergency, emergency measures are necessary. Resources have to be mobilised on an exceptional scale. I suggested the machines be returned to the factory for attention. In a previous post in a similar Conversation I suggested that production of new machines be suspended to create capacity for modifications. I suggest that if the will is there it would not take long to set up workshops in convenient places so that trained technicians can work on the machines without having to waste time driving around on house calls. A range of measures is required in order to reduce the risk across the nation’s tumble dryer inventory. Let’s say “we can do it”, not “it can’t be done”. I am sure there are people out there with a positive outlook who could rise to the occasion.

Duncan is also looking for people with gumption to challenge the status quo and I support him in that. Saving lives and preventing tragedies is not exactly lateral thinking but society has characterised it that way because of the supremacy of profits. Once big companies have taken over or eliminated the competition there will be no brake on their behaviour. One day I hope the circumstances surrounding Whirlpool’s acquisition of Indesit and other brands will be revealed, including how it escaped any monopoly checks. The only consolation is that Whirlpool are probably making a better fist of it than Indesit might have done.

Fortunately, so far as I am aware, no lives have yet been lost as a consequence of a tumble dryer fire but that is only by a narrow margin and more by luck than safety engineering [modern building regulations have made the biggest contribution to saving lives in these incidents]. To answer Duncan’s question – sadly nothing will change until a few Coroners have issued reports. A similar potential exists with exploding washing machine door-windows.

I agree with Beryl below.

Well, if plastic fascias and control panels are not acceptable in case they get too hot [hotter than the cabinet surrounding them?] we need to think about the remote control of tumble dryers via a wall-mounted or hand-held device.

Fact is John, they cannot simply repurpose a factory on a whim, it’d take longer than doing them in the field just to do that let alone get started on them. Meanwhile, forget about a replacement as the factory is engaged “fixing” old dryers.

Then there’s the sheer logistics, you’d still need to access people’s homes to collect then redeliver all the while repacking them to prevent damage.

The resources just are not available to do that and, it’d be utterly nuts to try to do it.

But again, where is the evidence that shows these dryers are any more dangerous than any other by any considerable margin that would even remotely justify some of the suggestions being banded about?

Please, show me the evidence to support the some of the outrageous calls of this action and the next as, I do not see any.

Plenty rhetoric, no evidence.


I thought that would be the answer, Kenneth. I was forgetting, these are appliances that can only be mended in a small kitchen at the rate of five or six a day.

So how long will it take to go about solving the problem by the regular route? Are we 30% there yet, or 50% perhaps?

Was it the damage to Whirlpool’s reputation that prompted them to embark on this exercise rather than a serious design flaw largely associated with the Indesit, Hotpoint, Creda & Swan machines and kept secret by other manufacturers?

Please pardon my cynicism.

I’ve no idea, no info from Whirlpool on any of it I’m afraid. So I’ve not facts to call upon.

Also I’ve no idea what motivated Whirlpool to do this. Some may even think it a PR exercise to make sure everyone knows that Whirlpool now own Indesit, Hotpoint et all but in the end, no idea as they’ve not made known any more than has been published thus far.

As we have not got access to technical information, bulletins (including any safety ones) as no brand has an obligation to make those available, nobody knows for sure.

All can speculate but, no or very few facts to go on.


A Moss says:
26 December 2016

I suspect it comes down to what PTS responsibilities actually are – I doubt the law requires them the manage the repair process to the extent suggested.

Also, regarding recalls, it has to be taken into acocunt that these products can be (in theory) made safe and are not necessarily always permanently unsafe – i.e they can be used safely without a repair being done first (as far as I am aware).

Whether PTS should have issued a recall notice will probably be one of those decisions that goes either way. Hence I suspect it very much depends on a lot of info we don’t have access to.

The fact that so much of the remediation programme has been carried on under a shroud of secrecy and that nobody has a clue when it will be completed are further points to be laid at Peterborough City Council’s door. It would appear that the Council has been too afraid of upsetting a major local business and employer to bare its teeth and make Whirlpool act with more responsibility and in compliance with the law.

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To its utter shame, I don’t think the government has had anything to do with the Whirlpool affair at all; it has consistently passed the buck to Peterborough Trading Standards. The only signs of political engagement have come from the Parliamentary Select Committee for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy which appears to have little influence over government action. Government’s responsibility has been to provide an adequate strategic consumer protection environment and in that I believe it has singularly failed but I do not believe that was as a result of inside work by Whirlpool – the seeds of that scenario were sown during the Coalition government but nourished in 2015 when there was a failure to identify a consumer minister with departmental responsibility and a continued delegation [without funding] to local authorities. Yes, Peterborough ended up with the Whirlpool problem and maybe should be excused because of the irrational policy that dealings with big businesses are allocated to a ‘home authority’ which happens to host the head office. With the dispersal of many companies to obscure locations adjacent to motorways some of the biggest creators of consumer problems now come under the auspices of local authorities with neither the resources nor experience nor competence to deal with them effectively, and – as I suggested in the case of Whirlpool and Peterborough – where there could be a conflict of interest.

I cannot really comment on what might have happened with a British company in the same situation in America where laws and federal or state interventions are different. Following its takeover of Amoco [and previous US acquisitions], BP in America has, to all intents and purposes, been an American company. BP accepted liability for gross negligence by its contractor in the most recent oil spill disaster that caused the death of several workers and it has rightly been heavily penalised. In contrast, Whirlpool has at least eliminated a company that was clearly making hazardous appliances, and taken over an incipient problem and initiated action to resolve it. The argument is over whether Whirlpool should have been prompted by the local authority to do more, sooner, and more effectively.

Right now in the US Samsung is going through exactly the same with washers that will rattle themselves apart and, **exactly** the same problems are fully evident there as they are here.

In Australia Samsung had washing machines that would self combust and burnt out a number of kitchens, their solution was a plastic bad over a component but, exactly the same was seen there also. This now ongoing for about three years if I recall.

So no, it ain’t any better on the greener grass.

In some ways, perhaps worse.


AMoss speaks sensibly.

It seems to me that the ramifications and the logical order for properties to be dealt with could and should have been established very early in the process. As for the risk factors to be evaluated and actually quantified and made public would I suspect been useful to all – particularly to establish the dangers of infrequent or no filter cleaning versus regularly cleaned filters.

This is where I think Which? management was dilatory as given the millions involved this was never ever going to be resolved quickly and it seemed a bit wafty from the beginning of the campaign.

Incidentally if one were tasked to carry this out one might have explored using mobile workshops for densely populated areas and shift systems to turn them around quickly – or arrange a drop-off and collect a new/fixed model.

There are people paid large sums to do this sort of logistical planning.

Whilst it is easy to say we are where we are and to ignore the past I am always of the opinion you should learn from the past events.

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Where are those figures Duncan and do they break down to the root cause or is it just he usual “we say this” stuff with no real information?

The AUS thing’s been going on for a good while now.

IBS, the Indian one? If so, not the most reliable source in my experience, I am familiar.

If you of out on the internet you’ll usually find something to back any claims somewhere. 😉

I don’t look at compensation all that much, not seen much about it where directly related.

However that drifts from the point which is that, in other territories we see exactly the same issues being faced, shortage of people to do anything about it, takes an age so sort it and often badly organised. It is not unique to the UK.


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The LFB, ONS and so forth publish the same sort of thing here as well, no details on it.

They do not publish the root cause, brand or much of anything really which makes that info largely next to useless. If it was so good, why is it not that more cases are prosecuted and for sure in the US where bringing a civil suit is far easier?

You need proof and you need the causality or the info is about as much use as hearsay.

So no I’m not saying anyone is lying at all, don’t know where you got that from, what I’m saying is that you need the actual information or it’s completely useless. Might make for good copy in the media but for much else, no use.

If you want action on anything at all, you need absolute proof as it will probably involve a court of law and all the info you have will come under intense scrutiny, quite rightly so as well. If your info is bad or a bit flaky, you will lose.

Especially if you are facing a squadron of solicitors that want to shoot your argument to bits.


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It has been estimated that there have been over 6,000 fires in the UK caused by tumble dryers since 2010, but not all as a result of fluff near the heater. Some have been caused at the printed circuit board and others with the run capacitor. Beko models were involved in a significant number of fires. There seem to have been three deaths caused by smoke inhalation or fires started by tumble dryers. Two of the deaths were in the same incident.

In previous posts, Which? has claimed that this fault may have been responsible for 750 fires since 2004, from a UK population of 5.3 million driers, or roughly 80% of the total.

Over the period 2009 – 2015, UK government official fire statistics show that roughly 20 lives have been lost as a result of domestic fires caused in kitchens by electrical appliances (other than cookers).

Duncan – Are US models of tumble dryer the same as those in the UK? That could be an important point. The design and engineering standards could be significantly different. However, more important than that could be the resilience and fire safety standards of US properties in the event of a fire. UK building regulations have led to massive improvements in fire resistance, protection and safety over the last forty years which means that surviveability is now at a very high level. Fire & Rescue service response times can also affect the risk of fatalities. I don’t advance that as a justification for lower product standards but we need to be very careful when making international comparisons.

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Actually, many of the appliances sold in AUS/NZ are largely the same as the UK/EU in many ways as they are also on 230/240V 50Hz whereas the US is on 110/120V 60Hz.

So there are marked differences even before you get into the design.

Hence one reason you don’t see very many (hardly any) imported products from the USA to the UK or most of the EU but I do believe that there are also some significant testing and certification issues with the EU being a lot tougher.

Beko acknowledges they had a problem with the mains filter on some models and it was changed immediately on production and all owners they could find contacted and it swapped out.

From what industry rumour has it, it was a third party supplier that cut corners on the mass production (not provided samples) that led to the issue. A not common thing but not uncommon either to happen especially on Far Eastern produced stuff where standards are ehm, not so good will we say but only in my opinion of course.


Thank you, Duncan. We are really only concerned with the situation in the UK unless there are valuable lessons to be learned from international experience. The death rate from fires in the UK does seem to be very much lower than in the USA. With just under three times the number of tumble dryer-attributed fires, America has had seventeen times the number of deaths over an equivalent period. In my opinion none of that reflects on the design or engineering standards of tumble dryers either here or there but on other factors such as standards of fire resistance in domestic properties or possibly lifestyle differences. Therefore I think we should exclude speculation about fatalities from our consideration of tumble dryer fires.

As regards smoke inhalation [two UK deaths in 2014 and one in August 2016], the presence of plastic materials in the tumble dryer might, or might not, have contributed; it depends on what else was in the area and how the fires spread [there might have been a flammable worktop over the tumble dryer].

I support the case for an internal metal enclosure for the control mechanism if a plastic fascia is fitted, although I would also like to see the option of remote control explored as I suggested previously. I should also be interested to know what peak temperature would be reached at the control panel during the drying process if a metal fascia was fitted to the casing.

Well said Duncan. When man made massed produced machines with the potential to cause life threatening burns to the people who use them, when it is perfectly preventable by carrying out a simple modification procedure is delayed or postponed indefinitely, rendering them unusable by their owners, remedial action needs to be undertaken.

Failure by a manufacturer, who has acknowledged the problem exists, to carry out the necessary adjustments in a reasonable timescale is grounds for government enforcement in the interests of the health and safety of all those people, and possibly their immediate neighbours, who are affected.

It is the only sure and unambiguous resolution to rectify this longstanding problem.

Given the general fire safety warnings that a number of authorities have issued in respected of the risks from using unattended and un-maintained driers, I would be interested to learn more about why and how the Indesit driers at the heart of this issue are considered to be worse than usual, to the point where Whirlpool has accepted the case for remedial modifications.

Thank you for reinforcing that point, Derek – it is what a number of us have been wondering since the beginning of this series of Conversations.

Something I have been wondering about, since we don’t have a tumble dryer ourselves, is whether the machines have a bold red safety label near the start switch to instruct users to clean the filter before each operation. I am sure that many owners regard the filter in the same way as the sump in a dishwasher or washing machine – a good idea to clear it from time to time but not critical for safety nor essential for performance.

Inside the door, big sticker tells people.

In the instructions, big warning.


Thanks, Kenneth – obviously, familiarity breeds contempt. As you have said previously, the presence of fluff and lint at the filter is conclusive evidence of a failure to clean it despite claims to the contrary.

As long as we continue on a merry go round of extremely negative response every time someone presents with a positive solution to a problem that everyone agrees exists and is solvable by the manufacturer who initially created it, whether intentionally or unintentionally is irrelevant, we will just proceed s little further down a road of excuses and contagious negativity that leads to nowhere, which justifies and provides a valid reason for Which? to proceed with its intended judicial review for action.

I wholeheartedly support this action, based on all the evidence supplied by the number of contributors so affected by this problem and wish Which? and it’s legal team every success in their endeavour to bring about a positive solution to this seemingly endless and enduring problem.

When continued complacency and fabricated rhetoric persists ad infinitum, it’s time to exert the necessary pressure needed to bring this issue, once and for all, to a satisfactory conclusion.

I am henceforth moving on.

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As I understand this, it’s a judicial review (that may well not even happen) to look at TS. Not Whirlpool.

So all it’ll do is look at the process undertaken by TS, probably not a lot more, depends on the scope.


According to the introduction, it is Peterborough Trading Standards.

I very much support Beryl’s comments regarding the problem of negativity.

Yes, I believe it is an action to review the adequacy of Peterborough Trading Standards Service’s actions in light of the powers available to, and the duties and responsibilities of, the Authority and is not an examination of Whirlpool’s conduct. This is because Peterborough’s acquiescence in Whirlpool’s plan is Whirlpool’s defence.

It pains me to see public authorities defending and justifying themselves [and their indefensible conduct] at great public expense. The Court cannot penalise Peterborough but, if satisfied of dereliction of duty, it can tell it what it needs to do.

I hope Which? will keep us updated on how the case progresses. If the judicial review is allowed to go forward it promises to be a landmark judgment in consumer protection.

I agree with Beryl above and wish all power to Which?’s elbow. I hope it’s legal argument prevails.