/ Home & Energy

Update: Is your tumble dryer a fire-risk?

Tumble dryer

With more than 100 models of Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers potentially posing a fire-risk and an estimated five million of them in UK homes, do you think brand owner Whirlpool is doing enough to publicise the issue?

[UPDATED 25 FEBRUARY 2016] It’s been three months since news broke about the fire-risk posed by some Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers made between April 2004 and October 2015 – 750 have caught fire leading to three injuries. The manufacturer, Whirlpool, has now added 58,000 Proline and Swan tumble dryers to the list of fire-risk machines.

But, Whirlpool has not yet published a full list of the affected dryers, instead advising consumers to check their models at safety.hotpoint.eu and safety.indesit.eu, or by calling 0800 151 0905.

How did you find out your dryer was a fire risk?

So if your Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan or Proline tumble dryer is part of the safety-alert, how did you find out about this?

Whirlpool published a press release and placed an advert in The Times on 24 November. It also tells us that it’s been in contact with around 400,000 owners since then and retailers are also contacting those customers that they know own fire-risk dryers.

How long will you have to wait for a tumble dryer modification?

We called the helpline (0800 151 0905) in the week before Christmas and were told we’d have to wait eight weeks to have our dryer modified. But we were told we could still use the dryer in that time as long as it wasn’t left unattended and the lint-filter was cleaned after every use.

This is a large scale problem – we know that more than 100 models of Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers are affected and the manufacturer has confirmed that there have been 750 fires. Because of this we think that if you have a fire-risk dryer, you shouldn’t use it until it’s been serviced and modified.

What’s happened to you and your tumble dryer?

Is your tumble dryer part of this safety-alert? You can find out by checking at safety.hotpoint.eu and safety.indesit.eu or by calling 0800 151 0905. And we’ve listed the 113 dryers we know to be affected in our news story.

I’d like to hear your experiences of trying to get your Hotpoint, Indesit or Creda tumble dryer modified. Has this happened yet and if it has, how would you rate the service provided? Or are you on a waiting list and how long have you been told it take to have your tumble dryer modified?

Comments

I wonder if it would be possible to design a tumble dryer so that it is inherently safe. Consider the design of miners lamps, which use a flame arrester. In the Davy lamp this is a metal mesh surrounding the flame. This allowed the lamp to be used in an atmosphere containing an explosive mixture of methane and air.

Applying the same principle to a tumble dryer, we could have the fan, heater and flame arrester. In order to prevent the flame arrester becoming blocked it would be necessary to have a replaceable air filter at the inlet to the fan.

I presume an inherently safe method would be to use a lower-temperature heating element that does not reach an unsafe temperature when covered in fluff. This would extend drying times. We use a tumble drier, with small amounts of items, as little as possible as an emergency drier. A clothes horse is cheap, effective in a warm place, and kinder on the clothes. And you can leave it unattended.

That was going to be my second suggestion, Malcolm. Simply embed the heater in an aluminium block with temperature control to keep the temperature below the ignition temperature.

I got rid of my tumble dryer several years ago because I rarely used it. I can see that they are very useful to those with families.

Not a bad idea
But the amount of heat required to be transmitted to the required volume of air would need a serious sized heatsink which is in effect what is suggested………….Heatsinks are expensive and to have a heatsink that would transmit 2000/2500w of heat to countless cubic meters of air per hour and raise the temp to a purposeful level is beyond my counting
A heatsink to keep a large igbt cool with a loss of around 100w is around 1200g…………..A fan assisted sink is around 700g for the same job……………
Care is probably the best cure…….

Whilst dryers are to the fore because of a recall and a possible design flaw they are not setting themselves on fire on every corner…..even the faulty ones seem to have behaved rather well with countless still in operation without a problem…….
I dont believe they deserve the attention they are getting compared to other much worse things…………I dont mean to belittle the problem as it needs fixed but by the posts its beginning to appear like all dryers are a problem

There are always heat pump dryers…………..Yes everything can and does go on fire but they operate at a lower temperature,,,,,,,,,take around twice the time to dry but they have the added advantage of being much easier on energy……….
But there are still electronics involved and they are where most of the problems start off rather than the elements

If we keep chasing our tails to make everything full proof we’ll soon not be allowed to fill our cars or air planes with fuel let alone get into them
There are many more cars going on fire than dryers

I would be interested to know if there are any makes of tumble dryer that do not catch fire, and how their design differs from other makes. Good safety features should be shared.

Many years ago after we got our gas dryer I noticed a problem and it was not altogether the dryers fault

The flame box/burner is just behind the grill at the bottom of the dryer……………Similar to the electric element and whilst the gas one has a visible flame the electric element is equally as good at ignition

Having known the workings of such things for a while I had assumed something and I had assumed wrong

Now dont get me wrong wifey is not untidy,,quite the contrary but when she cleaned the filter out as she did back then she dropped the ball of fluff on the floor and the hoover will pick it up later…………Fair enough you’d think but without those balls of fluff the dryer has no fuel to start the fire

Not so long after that I noticed a slightly used ,,,slightly damaged gas dryer in the free adds paper………..As we had a lot of clothes to dry as a result of little ones off I went to see this slightly damaged dryer
It was weeks old and had went on fire,,,,,just slightly but it had scared the s***t out of the owner and “that gas thing” was getting out of here…………..”never want to see one of those things again”
He wanted a token gesture price of £20 which he got
Once I had the dryer on the car I told him what had happened but he said it never happened the electric dryers,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,His laundry floor was covered in balls of fluff and the only place there was soot was from the flame box the to the drum…………….All metal,all the way but blackened…………..The filter was undamaged and very little would damage it…….

I brought it home,,,,,,cleaned it up and fired it up straight away
We have long since forgot which dryer is which but they are both still going ad one of them has had nothing but cautionary clean outs……………Some o0ne of them has went faultlessly the other needed looked at recently due to our son thinking you could fill a dryer up like a clothes press……………….but it’s still going

After that wifey seen I was not joking and instead of dropping the fluff on the floor she has always to this day cleaned the filter after every load with the hoover

A ball of that fluff getting into the air tract of an electric dryer can start a fire in a similar fashion

There should be no fluff in that area to start a fire because fresh air goes in gets heated and goes via the drum directly outside………………
All fluff should be either in the filter or after a year or two there can be a buildup in the exhaust of the dryer which I personally blow out every couple of years……………I used to do it every summer but it didnt need it so I look into the little flap vent outside and see if there’s much fluff and clean accordingly

I dont know what is setting these problem dryers on fire and it is not all dryers so there must be a problem with a limited number but why I’m telling the story is to point out that almost all dryers can be set on fire and whilst the manufactures could have fitted another filter/gauze to the air inlet one has to see some sense and not leave fluff laying around…………………I feel………….
I would not want another gauze right down at the floor to clean out anyhow

So for those who wipe off the filter with their hand and drop the evidence,,,,,,,,,,,that little bundle of fluff can and just very occasionally does get to light
Our former head of the fire service here seems to know about this problem also which in a way I was glad to hear because it means that at least a minority gets to hear the risks

I have also been told that dishwashers are the most popular white good to start fires and long before the Beko thing………….

I envisage that the air inlet and filter would be on top of the dryer to protect the flame arrester from becoming blocked. The existing lint filter that should be cleaned after each use would remain.

I suspect that most of the fires in tumble dryers are due to users failing to clean the lint filter. I once gave my mum a lecture about the risk and she got into the habit of cleaning the filter after each use.

Everyone…………..

I dont want to rub anyone up the wrong way but we have to straighten out a couple of things about dryers before those who dont have, dont operate and have not looked at how they work decide to fix the problem and possibly scare everyone out of using a dryer

Again I don not know what the problem is with the faulty dryers but today it is as liable to be electronic as it is element related

Yes Duncan is correct……….Fluff does start fires but????

Now I’m doing dryers in general………….In general they are the basic heat/blow dryers

I have several dryers………….. 2 gas and one electric or my family does actually
Heat/blow

You can throw the lint filter in the bin and it wont start a fire nor encourage a fire…….It will result in fluff all along the wall outside and a mess in other words
It may eventually result in a blocked exhaust but the dryer should pick this up and stop heating………….

The course of the air in most dryers is as follows

Air enters the dryer at the bottom(mostly)
Air passes through the element/burner according to fuel type
Usually around there there is temp/flame/flow detection according to the needs of the type of dryer
Air then passes through the fan
Air then enters the drum
Air then passes through the filter
Air then exits the dryer
Air then passes through a elephants trunk type pipe and hopefully exits the building……………

The air nor the fluff never goes back around to the element at least not in the common or garden dryer……………
The air is heated once and wasted as such…………..air is not recirculated
The element should never see fluff

Heat pumps etc are a little different but as best I understand those are not the ones on question and are so new anyhow that they could not be as the recall letter goes back to 2005 I think it was

Fluff entering the element is down to fluff being available on the floor…………..as best I can see and I did see the results of fluff on the floor………..

I’m never offended if I learn something. 🙂

Thanks……………All I want is to see people safe but I often get below their skin in my attempts which I dont want to do at all

@patrick, I wonder what the relevant European Norm (the safety standard) says about the fire risk in tumble driers and what measures and tests are necessary to minimise the risk? Perhaps Which? would look up the BSEN and tell us whether it is covered sensibly.

The point has been made several times that, in effect, the manufacturers’ instructions should be followed. However, you might read them once when the appliance is first used and then lose them, so perhaps a prominent permanent label on the appliance would be better to remind users of essential maintenance and safety tasks.

A label might work but making it impossible to start the machine if the filter has not been attended to would be a better solution. We already have door interlocks to prevent the door of a washing machine being opened until the end of the washing cycle.

The label will tell you why it probably won’t start.

Interlock and label. Sounds like a plan. 🙂

Over to Which? then perhaps? 😀

And throw the fluff on the floor to be sucked into the element????????????
Where’s the point of the interlock…………Fluff in the filter does not start fires
Fluff in the filter slows the drying or if blocked enough can almost stop the drying due to lack of air flow and if the air cannot flow the element gets to switch off………..
The dryers we have all have upper limit stats and more safety than I can shake a stick at but if we throw the fluff on the floor we could start a fire……….

There many video’s on youtube about how the different types of dryer work……….

We need to make allowance for the fact that not everyone knows how their tumble dryers work. In the same way that it is logical to have the air intake high on a car to prevent the engine ingesting water from flooded roads, it makes sense to have the air intake for a tumble dryer high to prevent fluff being drawn in. Of course the inlet cannot be on the top or the user may lay something on top or foreign objects might fall into the the works.

Hi Wave…………..I agree 100%
Yes I know people do not know how their dryers work and they dont need to know but they need to know the dangers…………

The reason I am so adamant about pointing out that the filter is not the main problem is because this is common pub talk of people as you say do not know how a tumble dryer works……………….
To repeatedly make mention of the filter requiring cleaning is making it look very like the filter/lack of filter/blocked filter is the main problem and if the filter is kept clean all will be well when in fact all may not be well and cleaning the filter alone will not prevent fires………….
Cleaning the filter is the least of the worries except of course for the 100s of writers on the web who swear blind about cleaning the filter but again do not know how a basic dryer works………

Neither is seems do people read the instructions

My son now has a dryer that was got about the time he was born……….so he has lived with them all his life……………..Mum spoiled as usual
He is the same man who filled the dryer to bursting and the dryer couldn’t dry because it couldn’t tumble
He is the same man who when ask about cleaning the filter he said he cleaned it last week
This is a young man with all the further education and papers to his name who can look up google and youtube for just about anything but dryers and washers ………..no

However if correctly explained one can stop the practice of leaving fluff laying around to be sucketed into the heater and yes clean the filter………….we really do clean ours every single load……..A blocked filter just make the motor go around for longer………
So a little more emphasis has to be put on keeping the surrounding area free from fluff etc rather than a blind ambition to keep the filter clean

Keep the place tidy………….
A bakery has to be kept tidy otherwise it may explode
A grain mill has to be kept tidy otherwise it will explode
Any environment has to be kept tidy otherwise dirt/dust/fluff can and does ignite

The idea that our houses are somehow immune from fire and that it and everything in it should be so fire/bomb/idiot proof that these things cannot happen is living in cloud cuckoo land but our houses and equipment in general are truly so good that we may be lulled into a false sense of safety…….

We/I cannot take chances……….we are so far from a water main that if a fire starts we dont stand a chance so we are very conscious of the possibility………..

My 13 plus year old machine is a washer/dryer but I only use the dryer when incapacited with fractured arms or legs, both a past reality. How can anyone afford to? My sheets are hung over the banisters and are dry within a couple of hours from the rising heat coming from below, I have a portable clothes hanger on wheels (bought for under a tenner) on which I hang anything that will fit on a coat hanger, often alleviating the need to iron and a small wire radiator rail hooked over the wooden slats in the airing cupboard on which I hang smalls, tights, socks etc and, last but not least, a fold-away clothes airer for towels etc. which lives in the conservatory.

I have used a dryer in the past when my four children were all at home but energy was a lot cheaper in those days. I do sympathise with today’s young families however, having to contend with the enormous rises in fuel costs in recent years.

I have noticed when looking around new build houses, some have much larger airing cupboards/drying rooms, popular in smaller dwellings such apartments/flats etc. Developers should incorporate these at planning level on all new homes too small to include a utility room for example.

I agree, Beryl. A good sized airing cupboard was one of the features I was looking for when I was house hunting recently. Must go and hang out the washing ….

Apologies for typo……………..incapacitated sounds much better!

According to Which?, based on government fire data, the number of fires attributed to tumble driers between 2011 and Mar 2014 was 1456 (around 500 a year).
According to government statistics in 2011 62% of households own a tumble drier. There are 21.9 million households. So around 13.5 million tumble driers of which 2.6 million are more than 10 years old.
So the reported incidence of fires caused by tumble driers over a 3 year period is about 0.01%, or 1 in 28000 a year.
There will be unreported fires of course that were minor or didn’t require assistance.

According to fireservice.co.uk around 300 cars per day go up in smoke with about 65% of that being deliberate often as a result of being stolen or fraudulant insurance claims
Around 100 fatalities per year result from car fires
There are 35,000,000 registered cars and over 100,000 get burned

The only person I’ve discussed the tumble drier problem with had dealt with a fire in his own tumble dryer, as I mentioned above.

I work with a large charitable trust that has a form to report incidents of minor accidents and near misses on their property. I don’t know how many people complete these forms. I certainly would if the need arose.

I reported our Hotpoint drier for recall on Nov 23rd and finally this week they sent 2 engineers to make the modification. Neither of them gave me confidence they knew what they were doing and they admitted it was their first recall fix. It took then 2.5 hours to do whatever they did and now I wish I had asked them to explain to me the modifications they made.

Whatever they did has broken the drier completely, water is flooding through it and it is overheating so much that you can’t touch the door. Obviously we have stopped using it.

After spending an hour having Hotpoint put the phone down on me I have gone back to the company who were subcontracted to make the fix and they are coming out again next week.

If any of you do have engineers out I would advise you keep a close eye and ask them to explain what changes they are making. I am puzzled as the drier now has a completely new back but I thought the recall was to do with the filters at the front.

Oh and as well as breaking the machine the engineers left me the original back and parts to dispose of as they are not ‘allowed’ to take them away.

Overall a complete shambles and I won’t ever be buying an appliance from Whirpool group again, not because they have an issue with their driers but because of the complete lack of any sort of customer service or professionalism dealing with the situation.

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Boy Duncan do I not agree with you……………….There are no tradesmen left it seems………not a bit wonder I’m still learning about everything because on the occasions that repair men come I have never seen people who know so little about the machines they were sent out ot repair
Still we cannot do much if under warranty or recall………..But I would not let them out the door without an extended explanation…………….I got told once that it was not for me to know??????????

Yes the navy ships
What a b****y shambles…………………

I retired recently after 14 years Naval service and then 30+ years as a Systems Engineer in the test industry. When I was in the Navy, we wouldn’t have dreamt of calling ourselves ‘Engineers’ the RN called us ‘Artificers’ and the civilian equivalent was a ‘Technician’.

Now, everyone is an ‘engineer’ even the ‘thousands’ of them (according to the BBC) who repaired the storm-damage on the railway in Devon!

In Europe, the profession of ‘Engineer’ is respected and protected in much the same way as most other professions. In the late 1980s, I worked for a short time at Messerschitt, Bolkow, Blohm (now part of Europcopter). There, engineers were addressed as ‘Herr Ingenieur’ and they definitely didn’t repair washing machines.

Suzanne,,,,,,,,,,,,Just so we know because this has not been or hasnt been seen by me
Is this dryer of yours a basic dryer or a condensing dryer???

Water coming from it suggests a condensing machine

Yes is a condensing dryer.

Thank you Suzanne,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Now we can go have a look at Condenser dryers because they differ byu a country mile to the common or garden dryers

Thanks again
Dee

The recall requires a new back panel fitted, a rivet on the drum and a free other buts and bobs altered, it is quite extensive and lengthy. The machine does need almost totally stripped down to do it.

The leaking sounds as if something isn’t back in place quite right but, that is a guess.

Replaced parts more often than not will not be taken away as to do that, due to legislation, every operative would require the facilities to do so to meet the requirements as well as being licensed to do it. The cost of that is substantial and many if not most will not have that facility, bluntly, it’s a cost that can be lived without and ordinarily the pressure is on to reduce costs, not increase them.

K.

Thanks Kenneth
Have you any reasoning why the replacement parts reduce the likelihood of fire???

I am informed that the rivet fitted along with replacement back panel is intended to clear fluff or lint from the rear thereby reducing the build up and the fire risk.

To fit a special jig has to be used, the existing drum drilled and then this rivet fitted.

K.

Thanks Kenneth,,,,,,,,,,,,,Jig sounds good,,,,,,,for a small factory

I’m still curious…………Does it look like a fix proper to you………….You’ve been around machines for some time,,,,,,,,,,,,,,You have a fair idea of what works and what doesnt……….Your not very committal with this yet as such
If you dont want to comment I wont worry…………I dont have one of the dryers……..I have gas dryers mostly which can also catch fire but prevention is better than cure

Question…………..Can the paddles in the drum of a White Knight dryer circa 1990 be replaced……………The inner ends are worn through and I dont see fixings from he inside of the drum………….maybe on outside

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I can’t say with any degree of confidence whether the fix is good or otherwise as I don’t have enough information to draw any conclusion with. I have seen what is done and all that and, it’s not a job I’d want to be doing customer’s homes but, that is merely personal opinion.

When I say “jig” I am using the terminology used by the manufacturer, I’d call it more of a drilling template.

Most White Knight drums have non-replaceable paddles, it’s a whole drum or nothing. I’d need a model number to check it properly for you.

K.

This photo makes me wonder why manufacturers use plastics in products such as tumble dryers, fan-heaters and kettles containing powerful electric heaters:

It looks as though these plastics components have softened – as thermoplastics do – rather than burned. But it is not possible to see all the components. Safety standards – such as Euro Norms which we use as British Standards – generally contain tests to ensure that should an overheating fault occur, plastics do not burn and sustain a fire. Which? should have access to these standards and perhaps could advise us on what tests are specified for domestic appliances that include tumble driers.

You do not need a powerful electric heater to create a source of ignition – a straightforward short circuit, or a small component overheating, will do just as well. So the rule is to prevent such an occurrence creating a sustained fire; self extinguishing materials for example. Hence the safety tests. Plastics are widely used safely.

Presumably this drier is the one from Guildford that destroyed a house. The owner was assured the drier was safe to use until modified. Were they also told that it should not be left unattended? We do not know whether the drier had been maintained in accordance with instructions, so it will be interesting to see whether the fire report shows just what happened here. I assume a large insurance claim will be made against Whirlpool if their advice was negligent. I also wonder whether the proposed modification would have prevented this. Some questions to answer.

Even if plastics do not burn they often produce smoke – sometimes toxic smoke, as the fire services often warn us. Some plastics used in household appliances certainly do burn. Fridges and freezers have the compressor enclosed in a metal case and are generally safe, but recall the Conversation where we discussed the fridge-freezer fires associated with a fault with a defrost timer. Perhaps if that timer had been put in a metal rather than plastic case, the fires could have been avoided.

I would like Which? to be able to make the equivalent of Freedom of Information requests to find out what materials are used in the manufacture of household goods and the number of fires and other incidents have been notified, but companies are exempted from such requests.

Rather than speculate I would like to know what standards say about plastics – whether flammability or toxic emissions. They are among the requirements normally dealt with. Perhaps Which? could inform us.

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duncan, thanks but the question I was looking at was not the deliberate incineration of plastics, but how they behave under fault conditions in a domestic appliance that overheats. BSEN standards should deal with is – rather like foam filled furniture regulations stopped fires and toxic fumes from sofas. I’ve asked Which?
Plastics used in commercial light fittings (acrylic, styrene, polycarbonate) had to meet strict fire regulations in the event of a thermal fault in a light – a ballast overheating and trying to burn the plastic for example.

Like they still employ anybody with that level of technical knowledge.

I would also like all standards to be freely available online to the general public. In the meantime I will carry on speculating.

Standards, many very specialist, cost money to develop and produce and this is recouped from their sale. They are international so I doubt one state could unilaterally decide to make them available foc. It was common for Central Libraries to keep them but that seems no longer the norm, although some still do for their residents. Industry, academic and other bodies subscribe for access for their own people’s use. I’d hope Which? is a subscriber and has full access as part of their testing role. They should then be able to answer relevant questions. I have asked them about this.
Free access is very, very, unlikely.

Yes Wave,,,,,,,,,Keep on speculating because we’ll never see standards and I am coming around to the idea that precious little is made to any standards
Things are moving faster than standards can keep up
The last time I was close to standards in testing they were already out of date and all too easy foxed,,,,,,,,,,,,,
AI is current and is in acceleration and I doubt that anyone can write standards or keep up with this let alone regulate it
Standards have had their day……………I know some will tear me apart for that statement but after 5 months on here I have not seen any concrete stuff as yet
All I get to read is and endless and relentless run of requests for info that is not forthcoming and most likely will never be
So speculation is all we have
Wave you are good enough for me and I can work out when you are certain in what you write………….I dont need the lab info to read to assure me right from wrong
Keep speculating
Dee

I recall being told by older people that scientific papers would never be freely available because of the costs, yet many journals are now open access, paid for by those who want to publish their research and reviews. (It costs $2900 to publish an article in PLoS Medicine.) Even where the latest issues are available only to subscribers, older ones are often freely available online.

I strongly feel that it is in the public interest for standards etc. to be freely available to all. Our universities should be pushing for this but they have easy access. When I was working, I had a filing cabinet drawer with standards and official test methods. If something is unlikely but would help society, let’s make it happen.

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Thanks Duncan. I very much agree with your comments on the hazards of burning plastics.

There are opportunities for reducing risk in product design. Many years ago, my parents called me because their TV had stopped working. I saw there was a small fire, which I managed to put out. The paraffin wax on the line output transformer had caught fire. Thankfully the fire did not spread quickly because the transformer was in a metal box with fairly small ventilation holes. Later TVs did not use paraffin wax, and flat-screen TVs don’t need a transformer to generate the very high voltages needed by the old CRT TVs and computer monitors. TVs often contain a number of small fuses that also contribute to safety.

There many ways that the safety of commercial products have been improved over the years but I remain concerned about the use of plastics in products containing powerful heaters.

Being the type of person who watches everything engineering I am wondering how we will recycle composite aircraft???

I have looked at British Standards applicable to domestic tumble driers and one current document is:
“BS EN 60335-2-11:2010+A1:2015. Household and similar electrical appliances. Safety. Particular requirements for tumble dryers”
Buying a copy costs £182, or members can have one for half this price.

In contrast, if you want a copy of a scientific article or other document via British Library Document Supply it will cost £5.25 + VAT, ordered online and delivered by email. A copyright fee may be applicable.

British Standards can also be viewed (but not printed) if you visit the British Library in London.

Having ordered thousands of scientific articles via BLDS when I was working I have nothing but praise for the service, and there is less need to use it with the move to open access (free for the user) publishing. British Standards has some catching up to do.

I think BSI take the view that since manufacturers and some service industries have to comply with standards they must expect to pay for them; they are not thinking of any other interested parties. Each county library service or metropolitan/London borough central library ought to have British Standards available in some form for reading if not making a copy.

I expect you are right, John, but that does not mean we cannot move on. If the funding for development and publishing of standards remains unchanged it should cost the taxpayer little to provide online access and make copies available in major libraries.

Until a couple of years ago the public had free online access to the British National Formulary, but that has been withdrawn.

I agree totally.

They could even carry adverts from patent agents and compensation lawyers.

When I asked BSI for which libraries had access they gave me the following list:

Please find below a list of libraries in the UK that have access to standards through the British Standards Online (BSOL) service.
Essex Libraries
Bournemouth Libraries
Cambridge Central Library
Liverpool City Libraries
Coventry Libraries and Information
Devon Library and
Hertfordshire County Council
Hull Libraries
Leeds City Council
National Library of Wales
Newcastle City Library
Norfolk CC Library Service
Somerset Libraries
Cornwall Enquiry and Information Service
Kent Libraries and Archives
Leisure and Culture Dundee
Derbyshire County Council
Bolton Public Libraries
Doncaster Library
Sheffield Libraries & Information Service
Manchester Public Library
Staffordshire CC Library & Information Services
Worcestershire County Council
Lancashire County Library
The British Library

Thanks very much for the list, Malcolm. I will have a look next time I am near one of these libraries.

The availability of Standards is far from standard it would seem.

Any individual can access any standard – you just have to pay. However, some local authorities still subscribe for the benefit of their council tax payers. Is this a good use of scarce resources?
I wonder just how many individuals not in the relevant businesses actually look at standards. It would be interesting to know from the libraries what use is made of this facility.

Where we have a specific question, such as what are the relevant standards’ requirements regarding flammability and toxic emissions from plastics in a tumble drier, we should be able to find the answer from someone. I have asked Which? as I believe they should have access to the relevant standards. Will they have the time to look at this? Or should BSI perhaps offer this service? BSI is not government owned, it is a private company incorporated by royal charter, rather like the BBC and many universities, so has to consider how to generate its income.

Malcolm – I have given the example of how companies publishing science journals are moving towards open source publication or make articles freely available at some stage, for example a year after publication. Open source publication is funded by those publishing their work and Elsevier, the largest commercial science publisher, charges between $500 and $5000 to publish an article. Even before open source publication was launched, the publishers of prestigious journals often made ‘page charges’, so that the authors contributed to publishing costs.

As I suggested, the funding of development and publication of standards could remain unchanged, and the cost of making them publicly available online should be small. We both want to study standards and I have suggested a way that this could happen.

An article or paper is produced from work already funded by, say, an academic institution or an industry. so it is then publication costs that need to be recovered commercially. A standard involves a good deal of work from many bodies that is not funded in this way, and developed by bodies such as BSI that are not simply publishers but involved directly in the extensive standards research and preparation. It is these costs that they currently partly recover through sales of standards. Currently “knowledge” accounts for 18% of BSI’s revenue – around £53 million, 80% being generated online.

These are international publications and, as I said earlier, I do not see any way BSI could unilaterally decided to make standards available free of charge as the revenue of all it’s companion bodies internationally, necessary to support standards development, would then also disappear.

That is my view. Perhaps Which? could invite BSI to contribute on this topic so we have a properly-informed view.

You could say it is in the public interest to have all Which?s product reports – and those of all other consumer organisations worldwide – made available to everyone online free of charge. Maybe Which? would like to comment on that?

I used to be one of those who did not believe that open source publishing would make a significant impact in science, Malcolm. Like many others I thought that standards would decline for various reasons. It looks as if I was wrong. Some open source journals are published commercially, but the PLOS, a large non-profit US publisher, shows that there is a workable alternative to commercial publishing. As I have suggested, the production of standards could continue to be funded by the organisations that fund them now.

Whether Which? reports should be available to everyone is something I have wondered about for years. I am very glad that Which? does make a great deal of information openly available on their website and continues to raise its profile in many ways. My view is that anything relating to safety should be publicly available but I am happy that product testing is paid for by subscribers.

These are European standards (Euro Norms) that BSI issue as BS EN…….. So yo will no doubt need to tackle the issue at European level. I doubt it is a BSI choice, but they have always been charged for even when they were just British Standards. It should be possible to pay per view, without being able to print, but there can be a number of standards covering a particular topic so you need to know what you are looknig for to find the appropriate standard.

For those who suggest standards are a waste of time, they are what, in the main, protect consumers. To suggest otherwise is mistaken. I have helped develop standards and used them in product development. I have a good deal of respect for them. 🙂

I don’t think standards are a waste of time but I am very concerned at the lack of independent testing. Declaration of compliance would be OK if ALL organisations behaved responsibly and never made mistakes.

I can see no reason why the Document Supply service of the British Library should not be put in charge of making standards publicly available, though I would prefer free online access.

A product that shows compliance with appropriate standards by carrying a quality mark, such as the BSI’s Kite Mark of the European ENEC mark, must have been tested in approved independent testing laboratories. The producer must also have a certified quality system and is subject to independent audits on both products and systems.

I received an e-mail today 8/2/16 from hotpoint i have to wait till april 16 to get a safety check also informed it’s ok to use i find this baffling the cheeky b?????ds have offered to sell me a new one at a reduced rate £99 now thats really taking the p??s i am going to try and get a refund .

Hello everyone, it’s been reported today that tumble dryers are the cause of almost on blaze reported to fire brigades every day. This has been reported by the Daily Mirror using data collected under Freedom of Information.

Our Executive Director, Richard Lloyd, has said in response to these figures that;
“More needs to be done to protect consumers from this risk and it is crucial that products known to be dangerous are recalled as quickly as possible.”

I’m not sure why FoI was necessary as the data is available online. To put the numbers in perspective, as I commented above:
“According to Which?, based on government fire data, the number of fires attributed to tumble driers between 2011 and Mar 2014 was 1456 (around 500 a year).
According to government statistics in 2011 62% of households own a tumble drier. There are 21.9 million households. So around 13.5 million tumble driers of which 2.6 million are more than 10 years old.
So the reported incidence of fires caused by tumble driers over a 3 year period is about 0.01%, or 1 in 28000 a year. ”

Of course we want to minimise risk, and ensure dangerous products are dealt with properly. But I’d like a positive proposal, not just “more needs to be done” . Which? tests tumble driers so should have views on how they could be improved.

FOI requests can be very expensive for organisations to handle and the system is widely misused, with some users making trivial or even vexatious requests. The government has indicated that it plans to make changes to help address these problems.

One change I would like to see is a requirement for those making requests to make some effort to check for information that is already available online. A common achievement of FOI requests is that they can result in publication of information that should be publicly available, but has been delayed. Perhaps making a small charge for making a FOI request could be the way forward to discourage worthless requests.

Despite the problems, FOI has made public bodies more accountable and I would like a similar system introduced to obtain information from commercial organisations. In the context of this discussion, I would like Which? to ask manufacturers about the number of reports they have received about fires associated with tumble dryers unless this information was publicly available.

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Which? and other consumer testing organisations should be able to answer your question from inspecting the construction of the appliances when they have tested them. I am hoping they can also reply about the safety standards that apply to tumble driers to see how they are meant to be protected when a fault occurs.

I assume that most of the fires are due to failure of users to follow sensible instructions, but there is no reason why we cannot design products that cope with human error. Introduction of temperature-controlled deep fat friers as a replacement for chip pans must have saved many lives.

I used to have a tumble dryer that would switch off the heater and allow the fan to continue to run and the drum to rotate for several minutes at the end of a cycle. The instructions pointed out that this was needed to minimise creasing of fabrics, but there was no mention that this could be important for safety. Unfortunately, it was possible to shut off the power by opening the door or turning the electromechanical timer to zero, presumably leaving a very hot heater and no air flow to cool it. I decided the best place to put it was in the garage, which is some distance from the house, though avoiding the need to fit a vent to the wall of the house was another reason for the decision.

There are numerous ways that tumble dryers could be made safer. I’ve mentioned using a door interlock to make sure that the filter is cleaned before every use. Use of metal rather than plastics, particularly for key components could help. A thermal fuse extending the length of the ducting inside of the machine could detect hot spots and shut off the heater or trigger closure of the air intake to starve the fire of oxygen, in the same way that diesel engines can be protected against destructive ‘runaway’.

I have made manys a big feed using a big pan of lard or oil on top of the gas cooker
Indeed I have had to throw a wet towel over it on occasion but would I want to try it again
Not on your life I would not
Modern chip fryers are great but they are often operated right beside the cooker to be close to the extractor……………That has brought that to my attention and I’ll have to have a good think about this for our new kitchen…………I like my chips!!!!!

You have a lot of good points………..
Dryers I think are for the most part probably okay if not abused
If the filter blocks it wont cause fire as the thermostat simply senses hot and switches the element off…………..There are high limits stats in all our dryers to name a few
Getting the cool down cycle is for anti crease and it works pretty good………..Maybe it is a little safer………..I dont know………We have opened the door,,,,,,,,stuck our hand on the clothes 100s of not 1000s of times without a problem but I have always told wifey if your going out turn it to the cool down bit on the knob rather that abruptly off entirely

I know the photos show all sorts of melted plastic but they dont show burned plastic
I dont think plastic is the problem/cause
Many of our clothes are far from fireproof and I’d think that a fire inside of any size would very quickly spread to the clothes…………….They are prime tinder in there,,,much more so than the plastic bits
Your idea of closing off the air is probably as good as it gets although I had no idea that a diesel engine had this as prevention but rather that the air valve/throttle body was primarily part of the NOX reduction kit……….But it probably serves a third purpose in my mind now……….Thanks
I just used the nearest coat/jersey/cloth to shut the beast off………..

I dont think we’ll ever make everything idiot proof but the more we do the more we need to do like keeping matches away from children has been shown to cause fire problems simply because the young now dont know the dangers of matches today

My biggest query is how does the fire start???………..It has to start somewhere in there………so where??

DK – When I was a young idealist I thought people should be responsible for their actions and look after their own safety, but having been responsible for the safety of students and staff I now firmly believe in a duty of care. I certainly take your point that making things idiot proof creates new dangers and I do not have a solution. 🙁

Lint from clothes has been implicated in tumble dryer fires. Ensuring that the heater temperature is below the ignition temperature is one solution, but that might make the dryer inefficient, so depriving the fire of air and shutting off the heater could be more practical.

I would like to know if any manufacturer has come up with a way of making their tumble dryers inherently safe.

Thanks Wave,,,,,,,,,,,,,I think many of us were young idealists……..
We usually become pragmatic I’d think before we’re 30ish

Been the HSO myself and what a thankless task………….The workers know better and the HSE know better………….Get your b***** kicked from both sides
The next job I took I refused to have anything to do with that role………..a bit like writing on Which……………Always getting told about the right way although I know full well no one is “doing it the right way”

I’d imagine like all manufacturers there will be a “just enough” amount of safety from the outset
Two of our dryers instructions clearly state to keep the surroundings tidy and to dispose of the fluff properly whatever that may mean but I assume throwing it on the floor is not “properly”

Like you I’d like answers…..
For instance this fluff/lint…………..How does this start the fire……………If in an ordinary dryer there is no fluff upstream of the element as in my/most dryers how can fluff start the fire……….
There can only be the one possibility……..The fluff is left for the machine to ingest
It is no use simply reading that fluff started the fire………………If everything was done as it should be it should be pretty damned hard to get the fire started at least in the basic heat/waste dryers

These condensing models might be a bit different
I dont have one of these but I’m watching maintainance/problem solving video’s on youtube
The fluff filter is huge in comparison to an ordinary dryer and is supposed to be cleaned every load…………..
There is a heat exchanger or labyrinth to me that causes the moist air to condense the water on to it…………This exchanger apparently needs cleaning regular also………One video suggests that as it is not electrical it can be taken outside and hosed out with a hosepipe……………….In other words it also is a fluff trap so the fluff trap/filter is not catching all the fluff otherwise there would not be fluff in the exchanger………….
The point is made by several engineers/technicians that condensing dryers work better in cooler places which makes sense as they have no forced cooling but relay on a temp diff to cause the water to condense out
After the filter and then the exchanger the air then passes through the fan and then the element which is alarm bell time to me because if the fluff has gotten past the filter as it clearly has because some is stuck in the exchanger then the same fluff will be passing over the element……………
Unlike the basic heat and waste dryer the element appears to be right at the rear of the dryer directly in line with the holes at the rear of the drum and unlike the basic dryer this air may contain fluff
There are apparently two stats between the element and the drum with probably two or more stats in the ducting
The motors seem to be ac induction so no brushes so no armature and no sparks
That rules the motor out for the most part
Several videos make it clear that striping the machine and hoovering/cleaning is essesential…………….
I cannot believe what I was seeing……………..a filter that lets fluff back around the circuit to an element or two according to heat level………..The element block does not look large so I had a look online and I see a few with around 5.5kwh per cycle with a cotton cycle being 154 minutes…………Thats over 2kw per hour………….That little box will be pretty hot inside……………
No I rather have a basic heat/waste dryer…………..or my gas dryers and I’ll keep the fluff off the floor……………….

Manufacturing didnt impress me much…….There was loads one could design/change but the only thing that mattered was output/power V cost…………..and that goes for a couple of very big names……………
Rules simply didnt exist in that the design is first and foremost for marketing,,,,,,,,,Fitting within guidelines/rules is secondary
Manufacturing has changed significantly over the last 20 years or so………….Once we made a product to do a job now we make a product to sell and the selling is King…………..Just as long as we can make the customer believe they have the right product is what matters today……………

There should certainly be some sort of grille over the air intake to prevent the dryer ingesting fluff or foreign objects. I guess that fabric conditioner and residual grease helps the fluff stick to the walls of the air duct inside the machine and eventually this is set alight by the heater. We may never find out.

Duncan
Cheaply made yes but I have two White Knight propane dryers for around 20 years……….My son now has one
Never a problem

But these problem dryers are apparently condensing dryers

The condenser tumble dryer removes humidity by using two separate air flows. Air re-circulates inside the machine and is heated. Then it is passed through the damp clothes where it picks up moisture. Damp air is passed through the condenser in one direction while the room air is passed through the condenser in the other direction. This causes the moisture in the air to condense into water which is then pumped to the water tank or out through the hose.
That was copied and pasted

Condensing dryers are not to be confused with traditional or heat pump dryers……………There are three popular types of dryers all operating on completely different principles…….

Look them up
The dryers you and I have been inside take in fresh air heat it and blow it out through a hole or that is the intention………….If the gauze/filter is damaged missing all happens is the fluff goes up the pipe and makes a mess…………….
The only problem with those is that fluff can get in the bottom vent upstream of the element/burner
This is a risk not covered by the design but we’re getting into all kinds of arguments about tidiness and instructions…………..

These condensing dryers recirculate the same air around and around and there is little option for the fluff but to go around as well except it should be stopped in the lint gauze/filter……….
We have had a detail of the fix from Kenneth which I think makes no sense to me and Kenneth doesnt seem all fired up about the details either……………Apart from it being “the fix”……………maybe it works………..I dont know……………

There are a lot of dont knows………………

What we have NOT got to date is……Why do these dryers go on fire????????

Maybe even more important is………….Are the fires limited to or majority caused by these condensing dryers or are the fires also heavily caused by both condensing and traditional heat/waste type dryers
There are also heat pump dryers which are different again although heat pump dryers are not around long enough to feature in 1000s needing a fix as they are simply too new a design

At present Which and many of the posts are taking a very broad brush stroke and repeatedly “stating dryers”
It is not as simple as “dryers”
This I would very much doubt to be the case and if our fire service has broad brush stroked dryers in general they need a kick up the rear because cookers cause fire yet they determine between gas and electric so as to which type dryer/dryers are at fault is very important

Which needs to go find out which dryers are at fault not only the ones in this repair/fix but what type dryers are causing these fires
Lauren,,,,,,,,,see if you can find that info if possible

We/this family have 2 gas dryers,, 1 traditional heat/waste and a near new heat pump dryer………….Fortunately possibly we do not have any condensing dryers but I do know close people/relations who do have condensing dryers

It would be a whole lot easier being cautious if we knew the risky designs

Duncan you quote having never seen a problem with commercial dryers………….I am presuming both gas and electric and heat/waste type cycle
I cannot help but notice commercial dryers as installed in campsites are mostly off of the ground so even if fluff was left laying around it would be unlikely to re-enter the dryers
Indeed noticing this many years ago I asked a good friend who has all the gas certs and has around 20 employees about this and he confirmed this so I raised our lower dryer at the time up about 5″ and it is still there…………
I have written before that one or our gas dryers was once part of a slight fire but the situation it was in there could have been a fire if someone dropped a cigarette butt…………The place was covered in handfuls of lint/fluff……………..
Just a thought…………..maybe a little planning helped prevent fire
But as it seems to be no secret that fluff can get back into the hot place why is the vent not half way up or half way up at the rear……………It surely is not impossible to get the machines air without fluff or the usual idiot leaving a towel hanging over the vent……………

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Oh I’ve seen those too…………….Great machines but I wouldne like to be footing the bill for the drying
I’d think fluff laying around is a big feature in the fires of heat/waste dryers………….I dont know enough about these condensing dryers,,,,,,,,as in if fluff getting into the external air circuit can go on fire or encourage a fire but just now there is yourself,,,,,,,Wave who has mentioned operator error or similar and myself who all seem to think that fluff has a part to play……..

Lift the fluff off of the floor and half the risk at least I’d guess

When I worked for Which? in the early 90s we did a project on house fires and tumble driers came out as the top cause then (followed by fairy lights if I recall correctly) so why is everybody reacting as if this is something new?

If you have a tumble drier of any make never run it when the house is unoccupied or overnight, fit a smoke detector nearby and make sure it’s not overloaded.

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Yes Duncan,,,,,,,,,,,,This is no different to big tobacco or big car who cried wolf and came out all guns blazing against safety…………………Volvo invented the 3 point harness and let it go free to the world in the interest of safety…………..What happened,,,,we clung onto to our tradition and some daft notion about being thrown free and the salesmen of the era continued with that at that time knowing full well it was saving money……………They almost certainly also knew it was killing people……….What odds…………..
We’re back with sales again………………Or are we back with the clowns again………….We always come back to the Clowns
Volvo I think have said that in the near future they are looking forward to a year where NO ONE DIES in a Volvo……………So its not impossible nor is it against good business………….One can hardly say Volvo produce rubbish although given the choice I’d have the 940 or 960 any day

I dont mind keeping an eye on our dryers…………..I dont trust any appliance………….I dont trust cookers and ovens especially built in the middle of a load of chipboard…………….I have my units tiled all around the cooker etc………………..
I dont even trust the dishwasher which incidentally also has repeatedly features high on the causes of fires over the years without even counting Beko’s was it’s little problems

I’ll admit I leave the sky box on as the latest nosey ones take forever to come to life………They probably have to gather all your on line shopping habits together before they allow you to watch TV
There will be no sky in our cabin…………..bye bye nosey parkers……………straight digital,,,,,,,no smart boxs or smart tv’s

It’s not that cut and dried Malcolm.

Every dryer or washer dryer I’ve ever seen and, I’ve seen more than anyone here I expect, has been caused by a failure to clean regularly, failure of thermostats but continued use or inappropriate items in the machine. On investigation, even by fire services etc I have not come across one that has fallen out of that.

On this recall what they are saying or, seem to be in my opinion, is that fluff/lint can find its way to the heater but and, this is really important as it applies to all dryers I’ve come across, that will happen on every single one, without exception, if the filter/s and or condensing unit are not correctly maintained.

Obviously here with the information that is available my take is that the frequency of this is too high and presents an unacceptable risk, hence the recall.

So far as I can understand what they’ve done and, keep in mind I do not have access to any technical on these (it’s like dealing with MI5 trying to get any info) the small rivet fitted to the drum is there to help clear any build up around the heater area in order to try to prevent stuff being there that can catch light. The new back panel, I’d expect, is to aid in that.

What cannot be done is to eliminate that, if the filter/s and condenser units on appropriate machines are not maintained as required then there is still an unavoidable risk of fire, perhaps far more remote I would concede but, it will still exist.

This is why tumble dryers have *always* posed a greater fire risk than any other large appliance as there is the distinct possibility and perhaps even probability that they will not be used or maintained correctly, in some cases, both.

And sure, you could make them a fair bit safer I guess like a commercial but, they would not fit in a standard 600*600*850 space, would cost significantly more and probably have less capacity. None of which is acceptable to the people that buy them who want them to fit in that space, be cheap and have as large a capacity as humanly possible.

Most of these dryers will retail for about the £2-300 mark, just work the numbers back, the profits on them are minute. Take off the VAT, shipping, warranty costs, retailer margin and so on and you’ll find that, if they are lucky, they might be making £10-20 a box.

It costs millions to set up production, once you take that into account the profit on large appliances is frankly laughable in many respects it’s so low.

The market for dryers of this nature is, on a global level, actually very small.

They are largely only sold in the UK and other Northern EU states and a small amount to Australia and New Zealand. Outside that, not a lot as the USA has the super-sized ones that are more closely related to larger commercial type affairs.

Companies that produce dryers are also limited, despite however many brands you see in a store or online. There’s maybe a half dozen or so actual producers of “EU type” dryers.

So, big profits… nope.

Every one that they need to swap out or modify is a loss, a big loss.

Given what I know about the industry, to me, this looks more like damage limitation than anything else.

How they are dealing with it doesn’t look good at all though, especially to those outside the industry but I can appreciate that this is a logistical nightmare for them. I think the stony silence isn’t doing them any favours for a start however it seems to be the way they’re dealing with it.

They are in a bit of a Catch 22 in many ways, if they tell people that the dryers cannot be used when they’re booking calls months in advance (latest reports indicate August in some instances) they get panned for that.

They cannot just replace the dryers as, it’d cost untold millions and they don’t have the logistics or production capacity to satisfy that either.

They could refund or part refund based on age etc but, they’d likely get panned for that.

They cannot tell people that they don’t need to take as much care of the filters etc, even after modification as that could lead to complacency, they need to keep the message on the maintenance front at the fore or, they could get panned later.

There’s more but I won’t bore you, the short of it is, it really doesn’t matter what they or any manufacturer does in a situation like this, it’s going to be very painful to get through and most probably nobody will walk away happy.

K.

Kenneth – Are there any domestic tumble dryers that have features that prevent users starting a tumble dryer without having first cleaned the filter? Good design deserves promotion.

My car requires me to press the clutch before starting the engine, my hedge trimmer requires me to press a button before I can press the power switch, my food processor, blender and grinder all have interlocks to prevent their blades rotating unless safe to do so.

No, none I know of.

There are a few with filter check lights but it’s more a reminder than anything else to try to encourage users to clean the filters. Much like water filters in fridges etc, it cannot stop you from defeating it.

Problem is that the only way to do it I reckon would be by using some sort of infrared sensor probably which leads to other issues if they get blocked etc aside the cost of them. And, you’d need holes for that, which could let lint through so it’d be technically challenging I’d think.

Thing is, the filter on the door should be cleaned after every one or maybe two uses or lint will go into the dryer but of course loads of people don’t do it. It’s far from uncommon to take the back off a dryer only to be met with a literal wall of fluff choking them up and assuming the filter is undamaged, there’s only one way that can happen.

One of the worst I got was a White Knight dryer in a pub where I took out a full black bin bag of fluff from it. I was amazed it hadn’t gone up.

K.

Thanks Ken. We see the results again, perhaps, of getting what we pay for! However, product safety should be a key requirement and I would hope that Whirlpool have solved the problem with their modifications. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, but putting them right in an acceptable way is important whatever it might cost.

I would still like to see what the EN safety standard says. I would expect, for example, it would look at whether the construction prevented flammable materials from reaching heat sources ( a heater or motor for example), or whether if lint or fluff did find its way onto a potential ignition source whether it could ignite. Precautions should then be in place to prevent a fire – thermal cut out, or limiting the temperature of the heater, for example.

We have suggested, above, putting a permanent visible label instructing the user how to properly maintain a drier. This would help, but as we rarely bother with instructions it is no substitute for having fail safe features.

The problem with all large appliances is that they rely very, very heavily on correct use and maintenance by the user to stay safe and not to break but it’s really hard to enforce that, especially at the price points.

They do all have thermal cut outs, they must have them installed and many are “one-shot” devices for safety, the machine cannot be used again until they are replaced so that, if there is another fault, it gets reminded as well. However, on dryers, a really common thing people do is open the door to “check if it’s dry yet” before the program completes and the cool down phase is done. The heat can then build and pop the stats or, worse as you kill the airflow immediately doing that.

Manufacturers do try I believe the best they can within the confines of usability and price but they will always have to rely in large part on correct use as well. To completely idiot proof them would be nigh on impossible I expect.

K.

Ken, I could not agree more. Manufacturers can only do so much and the user has a responsibility to read the instructions and follow them. We seem to discard the concept of personal responsibilty too often. My workshop has a number of dangerous or lethal tools in it unless I use then correctly. It is easy to cut through the mains cable on my hedgetrimmer – I have! – so it is protected with an RCCD. If I hadn’t then I might get a lthal shock). if I tip up my rotary mower while the engine is still running a might cut off some anatomy; there is a safety lock on the handle but I can still get to the rotating blade if I wish. All that can be done is, i believe, to make things as safe as possible and to give clear instructions.

I wonder just how many of these tumble drier fires are down to gross neglect?

If I were to hazard a guess based on experience, probably a fair number of them will be due to simple failure to clear filters.

To be honest, that’s probably the reason that the fluff/lint is there in the first place. The issue Whirlpool have is that this can get onto the heater and ignite and I suspect that the mod is to try to stop that from happening as, I doubt they’ll be able to get round the other issue that affects them all, not just those machines but all dryers.

I don’t understand why people don’t clear the filters though as, if the filter isn’t cleaned then people are using more energy, it’s less efficient and the obvious safety concern and yet, loads of people never clean the filters or don’t do it regularly enough. Few admit to that when there’s a problem though.

I just spoke to a presenter doing a piece on this and he admitted freely that he’d never cleaned the filter on his own dryer. It is so common to hear that or, see the evidence of it.

Even the fire brigades go on about it as they know that’s the top cause of problems, along with other crazy things like drying plastic backed mats and stuff like that.

This is far from being a new problem.

Sifting through what is or, who is responsible will be a nightmare and a PR disaster I expect for Whirlpool, even if they aren’t at “fault”.

This modification will not negate the need to clear the filter/s after every use.

K.

I agree Kenneth,,,,,,,,,My son filled his dryer up to the to………full
We never did this
I had to go and look at it when it would not dry……….Filter blocked to you could see it although in his case the air does not recirculate
I had to go again………So full the hot air could not get between the clothes
This is my son I’m telling you about people……….Not some fictitious character
They can look the WWW for all the info they need and do about other things but it seems that these machine are growing ever more in need of being idiot proof

Perhaps we better assume the position of saying all filter need cleaned to reduce the risk of fire because I’m not so sure that the users know the difference between dryer types………….
Certainly these later dryers that recirculate the air are in serious need of a 3 days course in the local Tech before being allowed to take delivery of them because it’ll take 3 days for the message to sink in

Use the machine the way it was meant to be used
machines cannot with the best will in the world be made idiot proof
The more we make better machine the more complacent we become

Yes Wave your also correct we cannot ignore safety but perhaps we are ignoring the single most important part of many of today’s problems……….The operator’s

I can understand the problem of non-resettable thermal fuses opening if the dryer is stopped mid-cycle but the obvious solution is to put an interlock on the door. Washing machines have door interlocks to prevent the door being opened during the cycle – even mine, which is 34 years old. Undoubtedly it would be an inconvenience to the user not to be able to check progress of drying but it’s more of a hassle to call out an engineer. If stopping the machine mid-cycle leads to overheating and a fire, there’s more than inconvenience to worry about.

Ever since I encountered a flame failure device I assumed that these would become universal in gas appliances, but that took years.

We landed a man on the moon in 1969 but in the 21st century there are still many examples of household goods that could be safer. 🙁

If I remember rightly we only just managed a moon landing despite the Americans getting in a muddle over imperial and metric measurement….or maybe that was another space mission. O rings failed an another, tragic space mission. An oxygen heater malfunctioned on another with nearly disastrous results.

So despite our very best and expensive endeavours, mistakes will happen. We learn from experience. But do we pass that experience on?

Well said Malcolm……….Perfection is difficult to achieve………..NASA built the best pressure vessel in history as such but it still leaked just a little……….People think perfection is achievable but it is not……..It was not possible to built a vessel that did not leak at any cost……….It was only possible to build a vessel that only leaked at and acceptable rate for the job

Malcolm – Sometimes we learn from mistakes but not always. I recall finding that my mother had used her tumble dryer without cleaning the filter so I advised her to clean it after each use. I checked periodically and she had obviously taken heed of my warning that a blocked filter could be a fire risk.

On the other hand, yesterday afternoon I found a friend using two 2 kW kettles plugged into a four-way adapter at premises owned by a charity. I have warned him before. In many ways he is about the most responsible person I know but he has a big blind spot regarding electrical safety. A couple of years ago I did some testing and found that he had cross-wired (L and N reversed) an extension cable.

4 way adaptors here all go in the bin……..They are an invitation to cause problems

I do not know why we accept computers and similar that require so many plugs which are I’m supposing the reason for the existence of these leads/adaptors
I do not know why as the various leads etc have to go between why can they not be powered by leads from one to the other………..
That is my assumptions

However your not so safety conscious friend/associate is doing exactly the same as many………..If he overloads the thing the fuse should blow…. and it should blow but then there as different types of fuse,,slow /fast and then there is the tinfoil…….
Wave I’d go pull the little fuse on his adaptor and see whats in there
4000w at 230v is 17 odd amps…………In my experience a 13a fuse should have blown fairly quickly but certainly should not have sustained repeated use of two kettles……..Fuses are a definite blow rating over time and usually much faster than breakers……..I would like to be able to go buy MCBs that if they say 25a they lift at 25a not carry 40a for so many seconds and then lift…..B type,,,,,,,C type and so on…

Are multi adaptors another possible topic here………..They have been the brunt of getting the blame in the past………..Why do we still have them……….They are obviously open to abuse and there were TV safety adverts years ago about them so why do we still have them………….
If we have equipment that needs several sockets should we not have several sockets installed to suit this and this would do away with the risk of these people putting too much load in one unit as such……….
I have never found the old tinfoil in a domestic plug but I have found tin foil in many adaptors and those short multi way extensions………….The tinfoil surely shows that they have been abused and the simple solution is a bit of foil
The other possibility is to do away with fused adaptors………Once the fuse blows,,throw it in the bin
Perhaps after the offenders pay for a few replacements they’ll figure out the right way to do things……….That would allow their use for light loads items that do not combine to above 13a

I dont like adaptors………….I see too many brown marks around the wall sockets where they are plugged in………..
I dont like the UK square pin system………..Round pins had a seriously larger surface area to make contact………..The square pins have barely enough contact area to allow for dust let alone 2 kettles………..

Wiring live and neutral back to front is not as bad as once I got confronted with a hair dryer that repeatedly lifted an RCD but I got told that it worked elsewhere
It took a minute or two to figure out as I had not had all the info
The truth was that the sister in law had added a new plug
Being bonkers about earth as many are the item was the usual double insulated unit and she had put the blue/neutral wire to the earth pin……………Seh had had it explained to her that you never wire anything without an earth……….You’ll kill yourself apparently………
It tripped the RCD for obvious reasons but there was an old and new part to the house and the old part had no RCDs as it didnt require them at the earlier time
Neutral being in effect an earth in the UK the hair dryer worked as long as there was no residual device

I think your probably right……….Your associate would be better away from electricity……

The mixing up of live and neutral is not as bad as often assumed but I would not advise it
Many if not all items we use will run/were made to run in a country/place where 2x120v legs are the norm………..
As best I know we have no chassis today with neutral in them today as once was………residual devices would not get along well with such chassis

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DK and Duncan – I’m well aware of the risks in what this friend is taking, and in premises that are used by the general public. A mains fuse supplying a resistive load will usually handle well above the rated current. I have alerted a younger member of the organisation who is currently training as an electrician to deal with the problem. I could give numerous examples of people who have ignored instructions or failed to heed good advice.

Providing instructions that users should clean the filter in their tumble dryer is not enough, in my view, because advice is not always enough. It is better to improve the design of products if that is reasonably possible.

13a fuses in adaptors are and should be fast blow as best I know…………..13a fuses in extension leads dont carry much more than 13a………..The lessor 10a leads with a proper 10a fuse will blow even with a 2.2kw grinder starting a few times……..
Fuses in consumer units often have a bit of extra built in and I have a big box of fuses with all kinds of ratings some very immediate……..some very slow.
I think both Duncan and I gave you the numbers as a means to an end to allow or encourage you to say/think “I’d better check this out” a little further……………
Duncan possible seemed a little flat out but if there is a bit of tinfoil wrapped around the fuse that would not be a good outcome should anything happen

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Phill says:
12 February 2016

It’s possible the kettles weren’t actually drawing as much power as they were rated. We came across that a lot.

I take the point about 4 way extensions, I’ve seen somebody plug one into a wall socket, plug three more into the first then plug electric heaters into all the remaining sockets… and then wonder why the main fuse popped the moment he switched it on, but with the explosion (probably a bad word) in electrical appliances how else do we cope? I look across the desk in front of me and there’s a printer, laptop, monitor, telephone, router, desk light and stereo all of which need power and a spare socket to charge the phone comes in handy too. Apart from a complete re-wire what other solution is there?

If you know your watts from your volts then simply add up the power of all the appliances you want to run off one wall socket and make sure they will not exceed 3kW. Many modern electronic devices are low power, so providing each is protected and the plug board is decent quality it will be OK, if a bit messy. If only we could get power to devices without wires!

If it is essential to use an extension lead or adapter, there is no need to have a 13 amp fuse in the plug. My desktop computer, (fed via a UPS), two printers, router and irregularly used items such as a scanner are plugged into an extension lead with six sockets and the wall plug is fused at 5 amps.

Electric toothbrushes and some phone chargers use wireless (inductive) charging.

Maybe we should get back to tumble dryers.

The problem is not the fuse alone or the size of fuse………….
Like the dryers the extension multi adaptors are open to abuse……………….
In many cases the fuses are changed out for an alternative
Yes your computers may run on 5a and there is nothing wrong with that as your well within the rating and you obviously have a fuse if you know what rating it is but the two kettles wont and the design of the wall socket is could easily be exceeded…………The lead/adaptor makes it possible to exceed the capability of the wall socket several/many times over……..In fused spurs where items are hard wired to the wall the fuse is in the wall unit……………The UK in its wisdom did not put the fuse in the socket where it should be but put the fuse in the plug
Some items will come with a much smaller fuse than 13a in the plug but if there was a 13a in the socket the 5a in the plug will still work
The system is seriously less than perfect
Yes perhaps we’ll go back to dryers but you’d still be better to look at the adaptor the two kettles are used on just in case the fuse is not a fuse or a high rated fuse…………….
Just in case,,,,,,,,to be on the safe side we know we cannot leave things too the operators especially this one who doesnt know live from neutral………He probably knows all about tinfoil though
You are advising that regulation be changed to make dryers full proof…………..Do you not see something here???

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A fuse blowing or breaker opening sounds like an explosion and the arc is an explosion…………….
When breakers first arrived on the scene getting or containing the resulting bang was one of the problems to overcome
plain glass fuses only cover small amperage
Big fuses get filled with stuff………I dont remember what to reduce the resulting bang…………
Not so long ago
I was at an bankruptcy auction……….
I knew the building well……………
The office had 3 separate 240v socket rings all with 32a C type breaker………..Motor rated
The auction house staff were cold although we know not how because the staff had lived in there for several years
They carried in heater after heater and after they had lifted tow of the breakers they finally lifted the last one which took out the PA and all the online bidding stuff
What a b*****s………….It took forever to get back up and going again and even more time to com with the online bidders because this is a legally binding thing with real rules……………
We could not believe that when one circuit stopped they simply moved to the next without telling the building owner…………….We went in and they had an unbelievable 12kw of heater in a 4 man office………………
Prior to that the owner was not allowed in because of rules
Surely I can be allowed to use the word I****s

The best thing to do with these multi adaptors is to not have replaceable fuses and when the blow the go in the bin………..
The ones with fuses nearly all have “an alternate” fitted and as best I could see PAT testing does not help…………..

Back to that office……….that office had big conduit all the way around……………….Each desk had several/many sockets properly in the conduit

I would suggest that to use these multi adaptors in a work place might be questionable…………

If i was running out of places to plug my equipment in I’d ask for more sockets……….
There are all kinds of ways pf providing more 13a sockets much better than these do da’s…………

There is a proper answer to the problem

I have seen the ring being brought out of the wall and ran through several surface mount twin sockets…………Ring still complete…….Breaker still correct………….Each socket will not overheat and no one will be searching for a bit of tinfoil which seems to be a word only I am using………….Is tinfoil a bad word??????
It is for roasting chicken or turkey not for roasting the office or house………..

There are some that have interlocks but for dryers I don’t think there’s any mandate other than it has to stop when the door is opened.

There’s no “danger” if you like as you can’t get an arm ripped off like you could from a washing machine on spin or indeed a flooded floor. So, it is reliant on common sense and the ability to read instructions.

To change standards it would have to be done at European level at the very least, one country shouting about it will get nowhere.

K.

Thanks Kenneth. Can you explain what the interlocks do? I’m keen to know if there are any dryers that require the user to attend to the lint filter.

Sorry, been a bit busy this past week or so.

An interlock simply locks the door making it unable to be opened whilst the machine is in operation. They are rare on dryers.

So far as I am aware there are no dryers nor ever have been that require the filter to be cleared before use. If there have been any then they’ve been niche products I expect, probably at the very top end of the market or in commercial use.

K.

Kenneth, is it the fluff that normally gets trapped in the door filter that gets to the hot bits of some driers when the main filter is blocked? Or is it fluff that can bypass this filter anyway?

There is nothing on my machine to tell you to clean the door filter – we just remember to do it. It might prompt a lot of people if there were a prominent label on, or inside, the door to remind them what to do. It might not be foolproof, but most people are not fools.

Thanks Kenneth. Even if there are no interlocks that require a filter to be cleaned, it could be an inexpensive way of reducing risk by forcing users to behave responsibly.

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It’s wonderful how it takes someone on a forum level of head to come up with a practical solution……………..
I’ve been wondering for years why the dryers never had a method of shutting down the heat if the filter was blocked…………I know people who need one
There is no reason either for the lack of a flow sensor,,,,even a basic flap design to make sure the vent is able to flow
Good man Duncan

Steady on Duncan. I still have a large shelf in the loft stacked with hundreds of copies of PE and PW, some going back to the 60s. I got rid of the WWs because they were available in a library. I’m still using some of the stuff I built in the 70s.

I’m not sure I would recommend that novices start modifying their white goods.

I think that Kenneth did say that some machines do provide a light or other reminder to clean the filter, but I would prefer some sort of interlock to prevent the machine being started until it is done.

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Don’t be practical, Duncan. Unless you can charge extra for safety devices, it’s probably a non-starter. Safety can sell in the car industry but I suspect that few would pay for a tumble dryer with extra safety features.

In my old magazines, I recall reading articles by someone who had worked in industry. He explained that while consumer electronics goods were often well designed, the specification of components was often decreased before they went into production, often to save pennies. Fitting additional safety devices costs money, which obviously cuts into profits. Your website on forensics mentions the use of a self-resetting thermal cutout plus a non-resettable thermal fuse in tumble dryers. If the fire starts away from these devices they might not operate until it is too late. An inexpensive solution could be to run a length of low melting point alloy (like solder) enclosed in plastic along the full length of the air duct. Obviously it could not be too near the heater chamber, but that is presumably protected by the existing safety devices.

If an appliance type clearly needs safety protection against a particular event then that requirement should be included in the Safety Standard. All appliances sold in the EU must comply with the appropriate safety standards so this takes away the cost issue – the playing field is level and any extra cost will be added to all machines.

If a small proportion of tumble dryers are catching fire and they comply with the appropriate standards then it is fairly obvious that the standard may need to be change. We may not be able to make household products completely safe but I suggest that we do what we can.

To take an everyday example, it is possible to buy bayonet lamp holders that could electrocute you if you stick your finger in. They meet the standard. For many years, safety lamp holders that do not present this risk have been available and no doubt comply with a different standard. Standards are undoubtedly important but that does not mean that we cannot do better. Recall that expression that used to be commonly used: Our policy is one of continuous improvement

Our policy is one of continuous improvement
In what century was that??
Our policy is one of continuous cuts is probably closer to the truth……………

Can I ask yet again if anyone or has Which tried to get any numbers on the recall condensing type dryers versus traditional type dryers……..as far as fire risk goes…………..Surely the Fire Service cannot be simply recording all dryer fires as “Tumble dryer” fires…………….

Surely if nothing else they have numbers on gas dryer fires………

It seems that many have continued on the “dryer” route and there are three main types of electric only dryer plus gas both in natgas and LPG form…………
I am not splitting hairs with this and have offered suggested searches on you tube to illustrate the differences to show they all operate very differently……………

‘Our policy is one of continuous improvement’ was in common use in the 20th century, and it was used mainly to explain why a product might have small differences from what was ordered or displayed. Nevertheless, it would be a worthwhile policy to make products safer, especially if this can be done easily.

I don’t know if the Fire Service looks at the type of tumble dryer responsible for each fire, but it would be a very sensible approach.

That is the point – if it is found that a product has a particular safety problem then one route to dealing with it is to refer it to the appropriate standards committee – BSI in the case of the UK. Which?, I’m sure, has this capability.

As far as BC lampholders are concerned there are safety versions available. i do not know what the actual risk or history is but if it was felt to be a problem then legislation could be introduced to make them mandatory, like shuttered sockets.

It’s not just BC lamp holders but the ES screw types – which can be even more hazardous if incorrectly wired. I don’t know if safety versions of ES lamp holders are available. Why are any companies still making products that are known to be hazardous, when safer alternatives are available?

As I said before, standards for products used by the public should be available free of charge to the general public, some of whom might be able to make useful input.

The centre contact on an ES lampholder can be made to disconnect from the supply I believe, but the shell is still connected. important to wire an ES correctly. We cannot always protect from faulty workmanship.

That’s something I have been told before but have forgotten, so thanks Malcolm. In 1973 I discovered and rewired two dangerous ES lamp holders. In 2016 we can buy table lamps with (reversible) two pin plugs via the Amazon website. I wonder how long we have to wait before industry and the government deals with a very basic safety issue that a child could understand.

Phl – The reason for the publicity is that the current recall affects millions of machines. I totally agree with your advice. Even though the risk may be small it makes sense to take precautions.

I have been looking round houses recently and did not see a single one with a smoke alarm in the utility room.

Wave,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I agree with you,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Smoke alarms are a rare species because they are only fitted as legislated for………………
Smoke alarms are looked upon more as an inconvenience than an advantage
We have a smoke alarm in every room including the kitchen and there is one on the ceiling about 4′ from our washers/dryers
We have a gas detector in the kitchen because we have a gas cooker……..Our jack Russell can set it off with passing wind!!!!!
There is no substitute for safety

DK – I bought in 1980 I put out a burning pan for a neighbour in an adjoining flat who hammered on my door in a state of panic. I went back into the kitchen to reset the heat sensor to silence the fire alarm in the building and discovered that warnings of the dangers of smoke inhalation are not an exaggeration. Like you, I have smoke alarms in every room and one above the place where I charge my phone and other small electrical items.

Oops – that makes no sense, so try this. ‘I bought my first smoke alarms in 1980, having put out a fire in a burning pan for a neighbour…’

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Good,,,,,,,,,,JLA have been watching have they……………..
This is good news just as long as its fitted in a way that people cannot swap out the fuse for a piece of copper pipe of bit of tinfoil for want of a better analogy…………
What a good idea,,,,,,,,,,way beyond even the wildest thoughts, dreams and requests on Which
Good on you JLA
Thanks Duncan

I helped a friend fit and commission a Firetrace automatic fire suppression system a few years ago. These are rather simpler than what Duncan has referred to, relying on an extinguisher connected to a long plastic tube under pressure. If the tube is melted by a fire, the contents of the extinguisher are discharged where needed. The system works best in a confined space with limited air supply, such as a silenced generator. Without it, a fractured fuel pipe could spray diesel onto a hot engine with serious consequences.

The JLA system is obviously useful in commercial dryers and shows that effort is being put into tacking a safety issue. Maybe there is a simpler and cheaper way to improve the safety of domestic dryers.

I like your Firesafe……..In the generator situation it is likely to strangle the engine but other situations a pressure switch would be a good feature………….
Perhaps there is an opening for Firesafe retro fit for dryers but it would need a pressure switch at the end of the tube to enable the machine to switch off thus taking away the source of the ignition……………
One of these in a dryer just might work as long as the hose is long enough to go around both the up and downstream ducting………….
I like this idea
Dee