/ 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

@patrick – In Zenya’s position, I would arrange a service engineer to carry out the necessary work and send the bill to the company after first notifying them of my intention. I recall that arranging repairs yourself is a recognised remedy if a company fails to deal with faulty goods in a reasonable time.

It would be helpful if you could get a member of the Which? legal team to advise on whether we should take action if we are kept waiting.

Oct 7th 2015 my tumble dryer set in fire, we were about to go to bed as we work nights. The fire tore through the back of our house, our Ensuite and bedroom. 5mths later we finally moved back home. Flash backs and dread every time we go to bed as terrified it will happen again.

We had our Hotpoint tumble drier ‘modified’ on 29th April after waiting 5 months, during which time we used the drier only when we could supervise it.
The engineer said he had been instructed not to talk to customers when we tried to find out what the modification entailed.
Since the modification we have tried to use the drier but it keeps turning off after 10-20 mins.

That does not sound at all right. I think you need to escalate this. If you have the ability I would suggest filming the process and offer to upload it to YouTube for the Whirlpool executives to appreciate the problem. ! : )

IF the fix is a temperature cut-out then the fix is inadequate. Definitely needs some action.

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We have debated the issue of whether standards for tumble dryers are adequate or need to be updated. When I looked at the relevant British Standard there was an indication that it was being updated and hopefully the problem of fires will be taken into account during the revision. Even disregarding the current problem with Hotpoint/Creda/Indesit models, it has long been known that tumble dryers can catch fire. When I bought a tumble dryer in the early 80s I decided to put it in my detached garage rather than in the house, though that may be have been because of concerns about the stupidity of using plastic parts in an appliance with a powerful electric heater.

I assume that tumble dryers are required to comply with the appropriate British Standard to be sold in the UK and to carry the CE mark. I also assume that the well known brands of appliance all comply with the relevant standards. Maybe someone can confirm these assumptions. If a significant number of tumble dryers have caused fires then there must be something wrong with the current standards. It seems likely that the fires are largely due to failure of users to follow the instructions, especially those concerning regular cleaning of the lint filter, allowing flammable material to accumulate near to the heater. I believe that dryers should be designed to cope with human failure.

A modern hedge-trimmer, chainsaw and lawnmower have interlocks to prevent accidents. A growing number of cars have interlocks to prevent the engine being started without the clutch being pressed. Kettles have had overheating cutouts for years. Gas boilers, ovens and hobs have flame failure devices. It seems clear that the safety devices in some tumble dryers are inadequate to prevent fires.

I have previously suggested various possibilities for making tumble dryers safer. The simplest would be to include an interlock (mechanical or electrical) that prevents the machine from being used if the filter has not been serviced. An alternative would be to restrict the temperature of the heater so that it cannot ignite lint. A third option would be to move to heat pump dryers, which (as far as I am aware) do not have a heater operating at high temperature.

I would appreciate some discussion on ways that tumble dryers can be made inherently safe.

I agree about tumble drier safety and have asked for Which?’s expert view on the current standard, whether it is adequate to cover lint-linked fire hazards, and how they might consider improving it. They have promised to give an answer soon (and to a similar question about glass door safety on washing machines). I hope Which does not just test and report, but actively examines products to recommend safety improvements to the industry and standards producers..

We have a 2-3 year old Siemens condenser dryer that flushes water through the system at least once per dry it seems (not sure where exactly) but presumably to stop a build-up of lint.

There are 3 filters to clean which is done every dry, more sometimes if a lot of lint is produced, but I do notice a lot more lint now escapes past the first filter than when it was new.

Filters need to be much more robust and keep their size and shape after time. If lint gets past them, they are not doing their job and I would think that is where much of the problems lie.

As far as I am aware the heated air passes into the drum and some of the moisture is removed by passing through a water-cooled heat exchanger before being recirculated via the heater. It will depend on the model of dryer, of course, but I doubt that the fluff filters have any contact with water.

I know little about tumble dryers but here is a video featuring a couple of models of condenser dryers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-n5Jmv-yG0

Proline and Swan were added to the recall and I see that the introduction to this Convo was updated. Proline was a brand used by Comet, which ceased trading in 2011, so it seems unlikely that anyone will inform the owners of affected dryers.

Once again I would like to ask for all recalls to be handled by a government body, in the same way that VOSA handles car recalls.

I, too, would like to see a robust system for advising customers of product faults. However, I do not see the Government as the place to do this. For all consumers in the UK they would need to keep details of every product they bought. And what products? Well almost any electrical and mechanical device, chemical products, ……… could be subject to a safety recall or warning. And who would handle this? A third party “provider” such as we subcontract most services to – whose aim is to make a profit, not serve the public. and how safe would all that data on everything we buy be, in one place? A gold mine for marketers – who could resist?

VOSA already have a comprehensive data base of vehicle owners for specific reasons – especially tax revenue – so recalls is a convenient add on. But even they abuse their position – do you like your details being passed on to private parking companies (for a fee) so they can land you with an extortionate parking penalty (not a criminal offence, but a civil one to make money)?

To have a better system of customer protection – if we want that – would require compulsory registration. The place to operate this? At the place where you buy the goods – the retailer, online store for example would have to remit your details and the goods purchased to….someone with a database. Who should that be? I’d suggest the people responsible for distributing the goods within the EU – could be the manufacturer if based there or their main distributor. Like safety standard compliance a condition of sale within the EU should be maintaining such a database. How is a recall then effected? One prompt would be if the manufacturer themselves identifies a fault – they should notify the EU authorities and individual owners. But what if individual owners have a problem? Who do they report it to (if they understand it needs reporting, or if they can be bothered?). Once upon a time this would have been Trading Standards or the store. TS seem unable to deal with this now, so this is perhaps where we do need government intervention – to fund a proper TSO and encourage fault reporting.

Which? could do a lot to look at this, find the scope of the problem and propose to our Consumer Affairs Minister (part time) practical ways in which it could be tackled. Perhaps a campaign backed up by some facts?

This is a recurring theme and I have given many hours thought to the practicalities and the benefits to consumers.

The benefits to consumers need to be more than simply you have to fill in a form and we will contact you with a recall notice if an when. There is simply no carrrot and you need buy-in to make the registration a more rewarding process.

I could go through all the problems with making it a mandatory process but basically I think it a flawed concept as it relies on people completing forms and leaves the area of gifts, rental, and inheritance unaccounted for. The major flaw from my perspective is that I want faults and problems to be logged by an organisation with a vested interest who will pick up anomalies that fall short of a recall but are warnings of a problem or limited durability.

For instance the forever famous Logiks steam cooker which 84% of people discarded within 18 months would have been a simple pick-up from data.

Whilst I am not overly keen on Which? because it is too commercial now it does have a very large potential database for subscribers to register to – and get a discount on subscriptions. I simply think registering all equipment is never actually going to happen or be accurate so lets go for an early warning system where WE get the problem data aswell as the manufacturer and vendor.

Many people want to report there experiences and purchases in a way that will both help them AND be useful to improve quality for the wider membership. This resources of goodwill should be used.

Reading the Nespresso DeLonghi posts on Amazon made me realise two things. We need to get good data, and that Amazon have special reviewers who get given gear. Which? needs to act as on making sure we can buy good reliable and DURABLE products .

Registration can be automatic (mandatory if you like) if at the point of sale purchasers details must be taken and submitted to whoever holds / operates the database. I agree it will never be 100%; as you say dt; landlords, secondhand sales will not be foolproof and I see no way they ever can be.

Which covers such a small proportion of the populations I don’t see it as a big enough organisation to look after the vast amount of data needed. The problem is certainly one of notification and we cannot rely on the manufacturers alone; we need a response to consumer’s own fault finding. I am concerned that there is no reporting mechanism widely recognised to handle this. There could be if Trading Standards was properly resurrected.

You and wavechange and others are raising this and it is an unresolved issue so far – lack of interest from those who should care. If a workable proposal could be agreed with Which? (but let’s face it, it will never be perfect) then Which? would be an ideal spokesman to get it in front of the regulators. Have a campaign and get a useful supercomplaint going perhaps. Or do it in conjunction with BEUC. What concerns me is that Which? does not seem too concerned with the recall operation – Whirlpool driers, 3 1/2 years to fix, but where is the pressure coming from to resolve this crazy situation?

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What I am proposing is a central database managed or overseen by the government. Owners of new and secondhand products could register their purchases and be notified if there is a problem. Using a mobile phone to scan a barcode/QR code would enter the necessary information without error, in the same way that barcode scanners work in supermarkets.

It is well established that even when products are registered with companies, the owner is not always contacted in event of a recall. I know of examples and their have been others on Which? Convo.

The most important reason for not registering with companies is, in my view, the risk of misuse of contact details. I bought a kettle recently and registered it by phone, stressing that my details must not be used for marketing or passed on to other companies, even in the same group. Within about a week I received an email about bank holiday offers.

The European RAPEX system seems to be effective at collecting details of product recalls so it would make sense to have a registration system in Europe rather than just in the UK.

I agree about Europe-wide system – one reason I suggested BEUC were involved. As we use common appliances to the rest of the EU it makes sense to aggregate data and to legislate for mandatory registration (easily done by getting the seller to record details rather than the purchaser) and for mandatory notification in the event of an “incident”. I have, however, no faith in our government’s ability to create and control a comprehensive database; their record of incompetence, poor contract performance and lack of financial acumen has shown that in the past. And I would not want capita, serco or others holding such a huge amount of useful information about me. On the other hand I could live with Miele, Bosch, or other producers having my details for stuff bought of their manufacture.

However, the details are of lesser importance at the moment than getting the principle moving, it seems to me. We’ve discussed this before, more than once. Surely Which? could develop something to take to the “authorities”; it is a key consumer protection issue, surely?

Looking at the RAPEX website, it says: “This website is managed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Justice and Consumers.” Maybe it could be within their remit to look after product registration. I hope that BEUC could coordinate effort to set up a product registration system. I would like to be able to log into a website and delete items that I have disposed of and add new purchases. Maybe Which? could make a start and get things moving. I absolutely agree that it is an important consumer protection issue.

Looking at BEUC’s website under “product recalls” it seems to focus on stopping dangerous products entering or being recalled in Europe – seemingly not so much products that develop a fault but that were initially dangerous. But I haven’t looked too far.

Perhaps Which? could discuss the problem and proposals made and let us know whether it is interested in doing something, Whether it agrees it should be pan-european or should we set up a UK model for others to follow.

As far as I am aware the RAPEX database is comprehensive and up to date, so the collection of information about recalls is in place. Dangerous counterfeit products may be well represented but, for example, it covers the major recall of Bosch/Neff/Siemens dishwashers some years back. I checked this recently because I have inherited one with my new home. I assume that this is the source of data for the Electrical Safety First database, which focuses on electrical items. Our governments past and present have had the opportunity to act on this and feel that a joint effort within Europe is more likely to succeed.

I registered my Indesit tumble dryer and had a reply within 2 weeks saying the engineer wouldn’t be out until March 2017!!! They offered me a replacement dryer for £59. It was delivered last week on the day I requested. I am quite happy as my dryer was old and rather rusty and I’ve got a new one that has an 8kg drum compared to the 6kg in my old one.I was quite happy to get a new dryer for £59 and I found the service from them quick and efficient.

We received a letter from Whirlpool in February even though it’s apparently been aware of the fault since November. I contacted them straight away and after a couple of weeks received an email saying the drier will be modified in October, now we have just received another email saying it will be February 2017, a full year from reporting it. The whole thing is a farce. Strange how they can provide staff to make and deliver onexcellent quicker if I pay for a replacement. Also “don’t leave it unatended” i think I would prefer to be out of the house if it was burning down…
I can not get any response from Whirlpool, the phone line is a joke and 6 emails have gone unanswered apart from an automated reply promising a 3 day response time. Sorry to anyone in the same position, we should take them all to head office, plug them in and tell the managers to keep an eye on them!

Hello Which.

I bought a Hotpoint dryer in April 2015. I registered it as being one of the faulty ones in February this year (not sure of the exact date). When I heard nothing I sent an email on 11 or 12 April asking what was happening, and saying that because I am on an electricity tariff which is cheaper by night, I am losing money all the time I have to run the dryer in the daytime when I am there – which is what is instructed. Later that day, someone phoned to offer me a new dryer, very similar to the one I have, but a little better. I accepted, but am sorry to say I didn’t get any details of who phoned me. They said someone would be in touch about picking up my old dryer and delivering the new one. I have heard nothing since.

On 24th April I phoned their customer services to reiterate my complaint, they gave me a customer number and said they would reply within 10 working days. They didn’t.

On 9th May I emailed the customer services asking for my money back. I have heard nothing.

Perhaps you can help me. As my dryer is not doing the job it was bought for (drying at night – I specifically bought it as it had a delay timer on it), should I not be able to claim that it is not fit for purpose and have my money back? Is this something I can go to the Trading Standards about and refer to the sale of goods act? I have not been back to the shop where I bought it, would this be any use?

Hope you can push for better service, I am fed up with this.

Sue

“Read more: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2016/05/hotpoint-dryer-fire-replacement-tested-by-which-442581/ – Which?
Which? have tested the Hotpoint TVM70BGP being offered to people affected by the unsafe Whirlpool Group driers. Retail price £179, offered at £59, so that’s probably at or near cost price – which means it is a lot cheaper than having to send out engineers to fix your existing appliance. So why are not Whirlpool offering this to everyone affected – and how do they choose who to offer the deal to?

@patrick, no word yet from BSI on what the standards have to say about fire safety in tumble driers and glass doors on washing machines? As Which? have access to these standards, and presumably staff who understand the products they test (or commission testing) would it not be quicker to ask them to read through the standards and give their views? Or you could email me copies of the relevant standards and I’ll have a look.

The standard for tumble dryers is unsatisfactory because there is no requirement for an interlock or other means of preventing the machine from being used unless the filter has been serviced.

I presume that heat pump dryers are inherently safe because they do not have an electric heater operating at high temperature, but would like this confirmed by an expert.

Safety depends upon the assessed risk level. If it is proven that a significant number of tumble driers have caught fire because of lack of a safety device, then I agree. An interlock might be one way to improve safety, but only dealing with a specific situation. There may be other ways to increase safety so I would suggest that if the standard is deficient it might allow for this in a clause requiring the appliance to stop heating when specified fault conditions occur. Manufacturers can then decide how to deal with this. Appliances., like everything else in everyday use, can never be made 100% safe, both because of inability to predict every possible cause of a safety issue and because of cost, so it has, in my view, to be on a cost/benefit basis.

Why should we let manufacturers decide how to deal with the problem? Bear in mind that Whirlpool has told owners of affected tumble dryers that it’s OK to carry on using them until they have been modified, and some owners have been told that they will have to wait a year for this action have been taken.

It seems well established that a build-up of lint is a common reason for fires in tumble dryers. I remember telling my mother that it was vital to follow the instructions and clean the filter every time her dryer was used. That was in the early 80s, yet we still don’t have interlocks or other effective ways of preventing fires as standard features.

Because it is manufacturers who design innovate and solve problems – and, incidentally, put much of the work into industry safety standards for the benefit of everyone. Such standards ensure minimum standards are maintained and help keep out the rogues who would otherwise endanger consumers.

Rosemary Speak says:
17 May 2016

Indesit dryer purchased late 2014. Requested repair just before Xmas 2015 – alerted by ‘Which’. Engineer came, on time, 9th March 2016. He was independent so didn’t mess around. Excellent job.
An online message made me an offer I could refuse. They would sell me a new dryer at a reduced price. I replied that I was thoroughly disgusted with this and that as a result of their total contempt for their customers would never consider buying anything even remotely associated with Whirlpool in future.

Purchased an Indesit tumble dryer in September 2015. Registered in February and had an estimate date for modification in May, just phoned and was told it will be February 2017. I was told replacement machines are only being offered on machines purchased before 2015. Bought a new washing machine yesterday, wouldn’t even look at Indesit or hotpoint or creda. I will never buy from them again.

I got my product safety notice dated 13th Jan. On contacting the website, I was informed they would be in touch 8 weeks later. In April I telephoned Hotpoint to ask why I hadn’t been contacted to be informed the initial waiting time was as error; in fact their records show I am not going to be contacted until December.
When I explained this was totally unacceptable especially following the news of fires etc she informed me that it was of course cheaper for engineers to fix the fault rather than the company face very high costs to replace the dryers.
Totally unacceptable!!!!

Today I have an email from Which complaining about the length of time Whirlpool are quoting to fix “dangerous” tumble driers.

@mstevens I have asked before whether under SoGA or CRA the law makes it a requirement for unsafe products to be repaired replaced or refunded without unreasonable inconvenience to the customer. Have Which? sought legal advice on this? I don’t recall seeing a response.
@patrick, I’ve also asked whether the current BSEN standard adequately covers the safety of tumble driers, and whether the Whirlpool defect fails the BS or whether it demonstrates the need for a revision of the standard. Any sign of a reply from BSI?

Surely we should be seeking ways to force Whirlpool into dealing with their problem expeditiously, not just letting it takes its course.

Hi Malcolm, I’ve got a contact at BSI who I’ll be inviting to comment here. We’ve also got a convo going up today with more information on what we’re calling for, including for action from the government.

Thanks Patrick.
Looking at today’s piece about Whirlpool on Which?’s website I note Which? are asking Lynn Faulds Woods group to see how the existing law applies. I am surprised that Which? does not itself examine how the law applies. As a Consumer Group I would have thought consumer law was one of the most important expertise it needed in house, particularly as it has its own legal section. At least I would have thought it retained and gave business on a regular basis to an expert lawyer. Application of the law is surely a key weapon in consumers armoury?

Hi Malcolm
I would broadly agree with you but the Government has set up the steering group to do exactly that. While we would imagine that the steering group would look at the laws we mainly want them to assess the product safety regime, taking account of the issues that many customers have experienced with Whirlpool.

Today I’ve sent over all our evidence that built up our case on this news piece to the Government’s steering group. I can’t imagine this is the last we’ll be doing on product safety, or the Government’s steering group.

If you’re interested we’ve published this conversation on this issue – https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/whirlpool-tumble-dryer-fire-product-recall/

Hope you have a good weekend.

Thanks Simon. Before I saw your reply I posted this comment on the new tumble drier convo.

I am surprised that Which? do not have or seek expert legal advice because I believe what all the owners of faulty (unsafe) driers want is to get redress – either a safe drier, their money back, or a decent replacement drier. Which? have said this could currently take over 3 years. That is clearly not just unacceptable, but a joke as far as Whirlpool is concerned. So Whirlpool surely need to be forced into prompt and responsible action to clear up a problem of their own making. i don’t see why my subscription should not be used in part towards getting proper legal advice by Which? and taking legal action against Whirlpool. Or is my interpretation of consumer law at fault?

I’m hoping to continue getting far too many chrysanthemum and dahlia plants into the garden so apart from a wet tomorrow Sunday could recover the situation. i will have a nice weekend; hope you do too 🙂

@patrick – I would be grateful for an answer to my question at the top of this page. I would like to know where owners of affected tumble dryers would stand if they arranged repairs and sent the bill to the company, rather than wait for months for the company to act.

I wonder if the parts are available to others apart from repairers organised by Whirlpool, and whether repairs carried out other than through Whirlpool would be guaranteed? It may be a simple repair that anyone could do but I’d suggest you would need to use an authorised repairer for a safety issue otherwise your insurance might be invalid in the event of a fire.

Equally, we don’t know whether our home insurance would be valid if we continued to use an affected tumble dryer until it has been modified. The company has said that it is OK to do this provided that the appliance is not left unattended. I would like Which? to ask the insurers about this. If it would invalidate the insurance then that is another reason to demand prompt action.

To be blunt, it seems common sense not to use your tumble drier unattended whatever your insurance situation. You don’t want to risk a fire.