/ Home & Energy

Do you leave your appliances running unattended?

Washing machine

Do you leave your washing machine running when you go out, or pre-programme a dishwasher cleaning cycle to kick in while you’re asleep? And more to the point – should you?

The recent fire risk furore involving faulty Beko fridge freezers has put the spotlight back on home product safety.

Refrigeration appliances are of course designed to be left on at all times. But what about other kitchen electricals like washing machines, washer-dryers, tumble dryers or dishwashers – is it ok to leave these devices running without you being around?

Absent from our appliances

With delayed starts or programmable timers on lots of appliances these days, you don’t even need to be in the neighbourhood to start your products up, let alone be around for the entire duration of a wash or dry cycle.

In fact, around half of the 125 tumble dryers, two-thirds of dishwashers and more than 80% of the washing machines we’ve tested include a ‘time delay’ function.

These can come in useful if you’re running a busy household – and can be a good money-saving aid if you’re on an energy plan where the cost of electricity is cheaper at night, such as Economy 7.

Is there a safety risk?

But you could argue that this type of functionality implicitly encourages the use of appliances without you being present – despite official government guidance to ‘never leave electrical appliances on at night, unless they are designed to be left on’.

So should we heed this general advice – or make the most of manufacturers attempting to make our hectic lives easier?

A new appliance is unlikely to break down in the first couple of years (even less likely if it’s from a brand that scores well in our member-wide reliability survey) – but they can get less reliable over time.

Catastrophic breakdowns, which cause fire or burst pipes, are very rare but there is some small risk attached to using any high wattage appliance.

Some items appear to be more hazardous than others. Regional fire authorities routinely issue stern fire risk warnings against leaving tumble dryers unattended, for example.

Reducing the risk

You shouldn’t let fluff build up in your tumble dryer, so regular maintenance is a must. Clean all lint filters every time you use the machine to maintain good airflow, wipe the drum with a damp cloth regularly, and check the vent outlet and hose of vented dryers.

The heat exchanger in condenser models needs washing out about five times a year, more often for heavy users. Some machines have a light that shows when this needs doing.

Meanwhile, a lot of today’s appliances are controlled by electronic software designed to turn off a machine if it detects something is wrong, such as overheating. You can also choose washing machines and dishwashers fitted with devices that cut the water supply if it breaks down – reducing the risk of you being greeted by a flooded kitchen.

And you should always have working – and regularly tested – smoke alarms.

Clearly it’s not practical to baby-sit our appliances. I’ve been known to pop out to the shops during the middle of a washing cycle. But when do you use yours? Are you comfortable leaving your appliances to run their course while you’re sound asleep in bed or out and about?

Comments
Member

Sage advice but really should we have to pay so much attention to products that we have paid a lot of money for on the assumption that they are going to work?

Smoke alarms are tested to ensure that the battery hasn’t run out, last time I looked, washing machines were plugged into the mains.

I always leave the washing machine on when I go out. It’s a good way to combine doing 2 things at once, put the washing on, go food shopping. Put the washing on, go and fill up the car etc etc.

I really don’t think that the consumer should assume any kind responsibility for the core function of a product. If a product fails to do what it says then surely consumer law is there to protect them. Yes I don’t want my house burned down either, but I do not want to live in fear that every time I use a washer / dryer, my house is going to burn down. That is what insurance is for.

The issue is that Beko makes rubbish washing machines/fridge freezers, why should we all have to carry the can?

When I lived in Düsseldorf, my landlord made me sign a disclaimer saying that I wouldn’t leave the washing machine on whilst I was out of the house. A bit annoying yes but the washing machine was really old and he couldn’t take that risk.

With new products, you’ve paid the money to ensure that they pay enough attention to Quality Assurance. If they haven’t then surely the law is there to protect you?

Member

In an ideal world perhaps one would not leave major appliances running when everyone is out of the house or in bed but we do not live in an ideal world. The electricity supply industry justifiably would like to even out demand between day and night while I am probably not alone in having a dishwasher whose ‘Economy’ cycle takes longer than the standard cycle. Hence, we turn the washing machine and dishwasher off at the mains plug when they are not in use, but do often use them unattended.

I am sure the insurance would not cover for all the hassle, and family momentoes which would be lost, if the house was burnt down, but the consumer should be sensible considering the age and condition of the appliance. ‘Which’ can help with the provision of data on appliance reliability, particularly if ‘fires’ or overheating are involved – for example this was a significant issue with early colour televisions – and help seek out data where house fires might have involved overheating appliances.
Perhaps fire brigades could be encouraged to provide/publish more data than the standard ‘due to an electrical fault’ when reporting on house fires resulting from electrical failures/overheating.
Overall, as is regularly emphasised, the problem confirms the potential value of smoke alarms.
Finally, with regard to Dean’s last comment, it is important that the quality level being assured is adequate. I doubt if any of us know the quality standard being applied by any individual manufacturer/supplier and I can believe that in the past a failure of the automatic defrost system would not be the most obvious source of a fire risk to anyone trying to judge adequacy of the safety related criteria for a fridge.

Member

Before the introduction of flat screen models, TVs and monitors were a considerable fire hazard, mainly due to the high voltage needed for the CRT. I have had to put out a TV fire and have seen several examples of TVs and monitors that have severely overheated but not gone on fire. I still have a smoke detector above my TV, even though it is no more likely to burst into flames than other electrical appliances.

Member
Maciej Jablonski says:
12 January 2015

All needs to be practical.
We won’t stop driving cars, though
2 out of 1000 suffer some sort of injury on the roads every year.

Without all the safety devices fitted in cars it would be 10 times as much.

Simply be reasonable, try not pushing your luck. Fit the smoke alarm (there are models designed for kitchens), do not stupid things, and if it is not inconvenience run devices when you’re at home.

Member

The fire authorities and Government give the advice to switch off when unattended wisely, based on a relatively small but very important number of terrible accidents.

The irony is that buying very expensive appliances is not safeguard (I had a Which? best buy very expensive top model LG washer which blew up 4 times in it’s first 18 months (before I scrapped it) each time blowing circuit breakers and fuses all the way back to the distribution board and turning it’s own innards into blackened smouldering charcoal).

Even more ironic is that even relatively cheap. older, appliances are less likely to fail in such a way because they were built with higher quality components in the days when products were designed and then costed up, rather than a price being fixe and the product made to that cost regardless of safety, life span, functionality etc.

However, no matter what you have, it can never be totally safe to leave unattended and we, the consumer, MUST take full responsibility if we choose to take such a risk.

Today’s society is full of people wishing to say “it wasn’t my fault”, including manufacturers (and credit to Beko that they have NOT said this as far as I know), so the consumer cannot afford to say the same I’m afraid.

Member
AM says:
3 May 2013

Hi – can you tell me what model washing machine this was? I have a LG F1443KDS which nearly burnt our house down but Trading Standards say it’s a one off problem but looking on the web I see other LG machines have caught fire so need help to prove that it’s not an isolated case so chance of LG sorting this & then no-one else put at risk. Many thanks.

Member

WM1444TDS, bought 2008 and scrapped 2009 after 3 explosions which turned all the innards to cinders

Member
LG owner says:
9 August 2013

@Am We have the exact same model (LG F144KDS). It caught fire a couple of days ago, and almost burnt our house down. I would like to hear more about your communication with LG.

[Sorry, we don’t allow contact details. Thanks, mods.]

Member

Our LG F1443KDS direct drive with steam washing machine which was a Which Best Buy that caught fire just outside its 2 year guarantee period. This machine cost £771.95 & still has a 10 year warranty on the direct drive motor so should have lasted a lot longer & should never have caught fire. We have been trying since April to sort some kind of resolution with this. The retailer wouldn’t do anything to help & just referred us to LG who only offered a repair that we would have had to pay for & didn’t seem at all surprised or concerned that it had caught fire! We were unhappy with the retailers response & contacted RETRA but they agreed with the retailer. We took advice from Citizens Advice Bureau & our insurance company legal helpline. As we consider the washing machine to be unsafe we have opened a case with our credit card company but have had no reply from them with regard to our recent communications. Despite our machine having caught fire our local Trading Standards did nothing to help & wouldn’t raise it as a safety issue as ours was the first case on their records so just considered it a civil issue. When I found someone else on the web (Dave D here on Which? Conversation) who had a similar model LG washing machine catch fire 3 times & had reported this to their local Trading Standards I pursued this again as a safety issue with our local Trading Standards as not a “one off” as they suggested who then passed the information to the Primary Authority for LG. This Primary Authority has not contacted us directly despite us requesting this on several occasions as apparently working to a Trading standards Office outside our area he is not obliged to?! With a bit of searching the web we do now have his email address so plan to email him directly & again request his help.
We are uncertain about having the machine repaired especially as Dave D had 3 fires & you had the same problem with the same model number washing machine as well as our own traumatic experience so if repaired we would feel it is at high risk of catching fire again especially as our primary use of this machine was on timer overnight. We have recently taken out Which? Legal cover & plan to contact them shortly with regard to this. I have also passed the above details to a Which? researcher as in the July copy of the Which? magazine they are asking for members to get in touch who have had appliances catch fire or explode – perhaps you could email your experience to her to helpwanted@which.co.uk & you need to put her name Alice Rickman in the subject line. Perhaps having two of us contact her about the same make & model of machine (plus Dave D?) it might help prevent someone else having the same experience or worse.

Member

Thank you – another member has replied to me here too having the same model as me which caught fire. Do you recall which Trading Standards office helped you when dealing with LG? It seems that regions only look at their own cases not nationwide when deciding whether to refer it on to the Primary Authority contact for the manufacturer or just dismiss it as a one off civil case. I have also passed details of my experience to a Which? researcher as in the July copy of the Which? magazine they are asking for members to get in touch who have had appliances catch fire or explode – perhaps you could also email your experience to her to helpwanted@which.co.uk & you need to put her name Alice Rickman in the subject line. Perhaps having two (or hopefully three with “LG owner”) members contact her about the LG washing machines it might help prevent someone else having the same experience or worse.

Member

Mine was dealt with by South Yorkshire Trading Standards, but their involvement ended once LG finally sent an engineer out – it was LG’s refusal to log a fault cal (see details in other posts of mine) that resulted in TS getting involved, to force LG to actually log and make a call.

Member

Were your repairs by LG done in the first 2 years warranty or after please?

Member

First fault machine was less than 3 months old but due to LG refusing to log fault because machine showed no error code …… Due to its innards being burnt out …..it took 4 months (& TS) to get engineer out and then further 7 weeks and TS again to get LG to supply parts to engineer to fit. 2nd fault – identical to first – machine only 13 months old. Repair much faster. 3rd fault ( identical again) machine 15 months old. I didn’t tryto get it fixed, I scrapped it.

Member
Rose says:
18 July 2011

I used to leave the washing machine, tumble drier & dishwasher on to finish overnight, or go out during the day leaving them on. But then a friend’s house caught fire (and was uninhabitable for a few months) due to a tumble dryer catching fire (the friend’s teenage children were in the house at the time but got out ok). I also read local news stories of other tumble dryers and washing machines causing serious house fires and the fire brigade saying such fires are very common, so I don’t take any chances now.
I’ve also caused serious smoke smells & some smoke damage to my current house several times where the instructions for my current oven insist that you leave the oven door closed while grilling food or toast. It’s so easy to put some bread in the oven to toast then the doorbell go, or a neighbour ask me to pop out to look at something, then I come back indoors to find the house full of stinking black smoke and the contents of the oven on fire! So easy to do and it can be pretty scary.

Member
Deacon Homeworks says:
12 October 2012

My (Neff) oven will not allow the oven door to be closed if the grill is on; it defaults to turn the grill off and light the oven. Perhaps your oven has a minor fault in this respect?

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
19 July 2011

Accidents happen, but ignore very simple to follow safety advice at your own peril.

Member

Apart from the fridge and freezer and items that use little power, I try not to be far away when the washing machine, tumble drier, iron, etc are in use. I would like to be there if the washing machine starts to leak or goes up in smoke.

I don’t believe that manufacturers should be allowed to sell plastic cased fan heaters and kettles. A powerful electric heater belongs in an earthed metal case. Appearance and profit seems to have taken over from safety considerations.

Member

Absolutely agree Wavechange: Every time I see a plastic case heater, iron, toaster or whatever I shudder and wonder who on earth ever permitted such ludicrous risks. Thankfully I have a very old and fully functioning metal kettle and I use the gas grill – so have no toaster – and central heating or the gas fire – so no plastic cased heater. I do, regrettably, have a plastic iron and I must admit to being very nervous of it.

You are absolutely right to say that profit, in particular, and to some extent appearance I am sure have taken over the world.

Member

Dave: I would not be surprised if your elderly kettle (and vacuum cleaner and washing machine) are safer than modern appliances.

The safety officer at work confiscated a fan heater with a burned and broken plastic case. Many years ago there was an issue of Which? showing an electric iron with a melted aluminium sole plate.

Beko fridge-freezers would not be a fire risk if the manufacturer had put the defrost timer in a metal box. It’s not rocket science.

Member
Russ says:
19 July 2011

I own a kitchen studio and the amount of customers who have previously had appliances go on fire before they bought a new kitchen is quite high, I myself do not leave dishwashers, washing machine or tumble dryers left on over night or when out of the house. I am concerned about fridges etc thanks to the Beko story. We all have so many things that have o be left on these days from clock radio’s, boilers, sky boxes, house alarms, fridges, freezers, outside security lights, answerphones

Member

Following on from Russ’s comment, to my mind the predominant requirement coming out of this thread is for data on the number of appliances which fail in a way that can cause a fire, preferably broken down into manufacturer and model as well as type of appliance and, preferably, age. Thus, most of us seem to worry to a greater or lesser extent about major white goods (fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, tumbler drier), but what about the little units which plug into the mains socket and provide (eg)12V supplies to telephone base units, aerial amplifiers etc. I have at least one such in the kitchen, supplying a handheld rechargeable cordless vacuum, which is permanently quite warm to the touch and concerns me slightly.
And is there anything else other than switching them off when not in use that can reduce the risk of a damaging fire. How often is it necessary to remove fluff from filters, or dust from inside other equipment, possibly including computer base units?
How could ‘Which’ and/or its readers help us all make intelligent decisions?

Member

Absolutely agree with all points made by briansg.
As a point of interest I teach IT – not as in how y=to make a calendar in PowerPoint but Technical IT to budding Network Managers and so on. One of the mandatory units that I have to deliver – a health and safety one – stipulates that computers need to be opened up and thoroughly cleaned out with a long bristled soft brush and a hoover at least once every 12 months and in an office or school / college / university environment (i.e. high use) once every 3 months.
Students are always gobsmacked when we open up a PC that has not been cleaned for 3 or 4 months and seethe thick (2 cm ish) mat of fluff and dust that covers everything, especially the fan intake and outlet grills.
There are some frightening statistics about how many public building fires are caused by uncleaned and / or “smothered” computers – many in shops where the tills are computers and are always on.
Which? really could do a big public service by publishing the sort of stats that Briansg suggests, but an even better one would be the campaign to make it illegal to sell appliances with any kind of standby function or no “hard off” switch.
However, most crucial of all is a change in the attitude of the public so that appliances are not left to run unattended.

It is, I will admit, though a can of worms because public will justifiably say “I can’t afford to wait 4 hours in the house for my washer to run a cycle” and other similar points and of course if washers, dishwashers, etc., still ran programmes that took around an hour, as they did in the 80’s and 90’s then people would not be tempted to leave them on. Why don’t they do that now? Because in an obsession to use less water, power and soap they have to wash for hours to get anywhere near the results that we got with hot fill, proper water levels and higher temp washes. It’s all a con and the safety issue of the con is often overlooked with tragic consequences

Member

It would not be difficult for computer manufacturers to design computers without fans. Cooling can be provided by conduction, convection and heat pipes. Fans waste power so they are best avoided in laptop computers. The first iMac had no fan, though low power fans appeared in later models.

Member

Thanks for all the comments so far. I came across some interesting government data (2008 UK fire statistics, which appears to be the most recent full data set), which details the number of accidental domestic fires split by electrical appliances.

Washing machine – 1,016
Dishwasher – 376
Tumble dryers – 694
Televisions – 744
Iron – 404
Audio visual – 115
Computer – 106
Kettle – 63
Electric blanket – 204

Apart from TVs and irons (where fires more often occur due to user ‘misuse’), in the majority of cases these fires are classified as being caused by ‘faulty appliances and leads’.

We should correctly expect properly quality-checked appliances – but faults and accidents can and will happen. I agree with other commenters that there should also be some common sense responsibility on the end user’s part to use a product safely and some simple maintenance to look after it, in order to minimise *unnecessary* risk. And of course that extends to fitting and regularly testing out smoke alarms.

Member

Thank you Kelly.
Your numbers suggest to me that each year about one house in 5,000 suffers an accidental fire caused by a domestic appliance of some sort. For washing machines alone, this would be about 1 in 20,000 if I am correct in thinking there will be some 20 million households in the UK and almost all will have at least one of most of the types of appliance mentioned (except perhaps the computer and electric blanket). Over an average person’s lifetime, these numbers are not insignificant even if most such fires do not cause death or serious injury, only serious property damage and inconvenience.
Such data should provide a starting point for preparation of an average risk for a given type of appliance with the possibility of gathering data on brands/models which are a better risk or a lower risk.
Presumably the larger manufacturers are likely to already have such data as evidenced by a recent advertisement in the National Press asking owners of a certain model of dishwasher with a specified range of serial numbers to contact the manufacturer for a parts replacement
(my household owns one of those affected).
Whether some brands of apparatus are more at risk than others is not clear from the above data, while it is possible that the risk is associated with particular ‘brands’ of bought-in components used by one or more manufacturers. Again, ‘Which’ might be able to help answer this question and include some relevant information in its reviews. Low failure rates probably make it difficult for anyone other than manufacturers to collect the data relatively easily, and I assume that laws on merchantable quality etc have some impact on policies with regard to recalls and publication of data.

It would be helpful if Which, or its readers, could acquire/collect data

Member
Tom says:
27 July 2011

I was looking into this regarding dishwashers following the recall letter received from Bosch, which appears to effect our machine and the general use of such appliances at night. What is worth noting was that in 2008 of the 376 dishwasher fires noted, this was at a time when 40% of UK households had a dishwasher according to http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=868
I therefore make this equate to 376 dishwasher fires out of approximately 8.6 million dishwashers, based on 40% of the then number of UK households (21.5 million). There is therefore only a 0.00437% of any dishwasher catching fire. This risk would be further reduced by sensible packing and general observation of wear and tear suspicious noises/ sounds etc to your own machine. Clearly people need to make up there own minds over this matter and any fire that can be avoided should, but it would appear on the face of it that dishwashers are safe especially if you ensure your smoke alarms are in working order should they ever be required.

Obviously the recall letter should also be acted upon to further reduce any risk!

I trust this helps inform the debate.

Member

Hi Kelly,
One of the worrying things about this list is that although nearly 100% of households own a washing machine only, 40% of households have a tumble dryer, so by ownership the number of tumble dryer fires is quite high.
Having read many, many tumble dryer instruction booklets in my time as a product researcher at Which? I know that people pay very little attention to using them safely. People rarely clean them out – I am always amazed at how full of fluff people allow their tumble dryers to become. Cleaning the filters and air hose (if you have one) regularly is essential to keeping the appliance safe. Pay attention to the installation instructions too, the hose should be as short and straight as possible to ensure good airflow and avoid the build up of fluff. Ensure that you can clean around the appliance regularly too.

Member

Good point Victoria, but many of us ignore safety instructions.

If I was designing a tumble drier I would build in a timer which would require the user to clean the filter periodically and reset the timer. That would not be difficult or expensive, and I hope that some manufacturers are doing this already.

Member

Thanks for the information Kelly. While trying to track down the source I found various warnings about not leaving electrical appliances unattended.

Member

Electric kettles have an overheating cut-out to protect them if switched on when empty or in case the automatic shut-off fails.

What happens if the cut-out fails in a plastic kettle? Presumably Which? simulates failure of the cut-outs when testing kettles and similar appliances with a powerful electric heater in a plastic case.

How great is the fire risk and how toxic are the fumes from burning plastic?

Member
EDDIEBABY says:
27 July 2011

Tom = LAD

Member

Tom and I seem to reach similar conclusions about the risks involved with dishwashers: ie the risk of a fire is about 1 in 20,000 per year. Perhaps a more accurate calculation, allowing for age of machine, location etc would give a figure between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 100,000. Judging by the warnings, some regard this as safe enough to usually allow them to leave the dishwasher unattended (with operational smoke alarms at night), and some do not.
I think it is vitally important that people do not ‘cry wolf’ too often or we will ignore important safety warnings and Which could usefully indicate what failure rates/risk levels it is basing any warnings on if it claims any particular item is potentially dangerous. For example, I do not abide by recommendations (not from Which) that one should never leave a pan cooking in an unattended kitchen, but I would not leave flammable materials overhanging the cooker.

Member
Marilyn says:
19 November 2011

My Hotpoint DWF30 caught fire this week. We had just gone to bed because the cycle was almost complete. A few minutes after getting into bed I heard a noise similar to a car door outside but thought it came from somewhere inside the house. After considering for a few minutes whether or not to investigate we went downstairs to the kitchen where we found flames leaping out of the front of the dishwasher. It is frightening to think what would have happened if we had gone out or ignored the dull thud we heard . For obvious reasons there is not a smoke alarm in the kitchen but although there was smoke the nearest alarm did not deploy due to there being a closed door between the kitchen and the alarm. Luckily we are still here to tell the tale.

Member

It is sensible to close doors at night, as a fire precaution, but you must fit a kitchen smoke alarm. You might have press a button to silence it if cooking sets it off, so place it within reach.

Thankfully you were not injured.

Member
marilyn says:
19 November 2011

Thanks for that Wavechange. Will do.

Member
Jimbo says:
7 December 2011

I’ve been a full time Fire Fighter for 21 years and been to loads of house fires in that time. In my experience cookers are the main cause (leaving food unattended, getting home drunk and cooking chips!) but second to that has to be tumble dryers. I’ve been to loads. Washer/Dryers seem to be bad because people over fill them and the motor struggles but you would be surprised how many people don’t clean the filter before each use. I didn’t take much notice until I attended an incident involving the very make and model of the tumble dryer I own!! They had kept the filter clean, the fire was caused by the build up of fluff behind the back cover, and you can’t see or clean it out without undoing all the screws.
I would never go out leaving my tumble dryer running Ive seen too many burnt ones.
Incidentally, I’ve never attended a House Fire death or serious injury where a fully working smoke alarm had been correctly fitted. Sounds like Marilyn did everything right by shutting her kitchen door at night. Having a smoke alarm the other side of the door in the hallway is fine and all you really need, it will still go off very early giving you plenty of time to get out of the house safely.

Member

Hopefully tumble driers contain overheating cutouts to shut off the power if the air flow is restricted because of a build up of fluff in the filter or if the exhaust hose is blocked for any reason.

I had not heard of of a build up of fluff inside tumble driers but it is obviously a fire hazard, since tumble driers contain a powerful electric heater. I hope that there is a system for alerting manufacturers to design faults in their appliances, so that improvements can be made and recalls issued if necessary.

Having had to deal with a small kitchen fat fire for a neighbour I have the greatest respect for those like Jimbo who risk their lives for the rest of us.

Member
holli says:
30 January 2012

I would be interested to hear from Jimbo or another fire fighter to say how many fires he has come across caused by washing machines? Still wondering whether to buy with delay timer or not.

Member

The Candy washer/dryer which was bought in August 2007 caught fire last night. The tenant informed me 7.30 this morning. Luckily the tenant was at home at the time and was able attend to the matter. The whole flat could have burned down.

Member
Jimbo says:
21 February 2012

To answer Holli’s question I’ve been to quite a few washing machine fires too, but it seems like not as many as tumble dryers. I know this contradicts the statistics provided by Kelly so I may be wrong? After we have put a washing machine fire out, we isolate the electricity supply and carry the machine to outside the property. Washing machines are heavy as they have weights inside them to stop them bouncing round the kitchen, so I usually remember moving them!
When you consider how often washing machines are used every day and how many people own them. Then compare that to how many catch fire each year, the risk is very small.
I must admit I leave my washing machine unattended but with a wife and three kids it seems to be on a lot and having to stay with it all the time seems a little impractical.
Tumble dryers on the other hand I would say are used far less often in comparison as they are expensive to run and it is free to hang out the washing in good weather!
As I said before, with at least one working and regularly tested smoke alarm fitted to each floor of your house and the doors shut at night, you should be fine if the worst was to happen. An early warning is everything.

Member

I’ve found dogs excellent fire alarms – do often keep TV on all night as I watch it. Always leave fridges and freezers (including my excellent Becko) and clocks and one light on all night. I used to leave my tumble dryer to cycle for an hour unattended and after 40 years it got hot enough to smell hot – my dogs alerted me.. Now do hang clothes up to dry far more often. I also have smoke alarms fitted and left on all night.

Member
Chris says:
3 August 2012

I usually put my dishwasher on before going to bed.

Last night I had more than the usual number of dishes so stayed up to clean some by hand while the dishwasher was on

5 minutes before I was about to go to bed my dishwasher caught fire.

No explanation yet, but what could have happened if I hadn’t needed to wash the extra dishes? I dread to think!

At no point did my fire-brigade filed smoke alarm go off – a bit more testing I think!

Member

You say refrigeration appliances are supposed to be left on at all times but I wonder about those that are built in. Rather than catch fire because they do not have enough ventilation – do they just stop running. Whatever may be specified by the manufacturer regarding ventilation doesn’t mean that the builder is going to provide that. Most people don’t seem to read nowadays anyway.

Member

The ventilation requirements that kitchen fitters and householders often ignore are mainly intended to help remove heat generated by their operation, often from the heat exchanger at the back. With inadequate ventilation, the compressor will have to run more of the time the fridge (or freezer) will use more electricity. The compressor is sealed and even if there is a fault it should not get hot enough to start a fire.

Since fridges and freezers are left running unattended and surrounded by flammable material if built-in, it would make sense to design them using non-flammable materials. Perhaps the recent fire incidents might help manufacturers to use commonsense. As fridges have become more complicated (e.g. self-defrost timers and heaters, internal and external fans) there is more that could cause a fire. There is not much we can do. A kitchen fitter might be able to surround appliances with fire-resistant panels.

Perhaps the best solution is to have one or two smoke detectors in the kitchen, sited so that they don’t go off every time the grill is used, and with mute buttons to silence them if they do.

If any tradesman ignores instructions then they should have the opportunity to rectify the work and learn that instructions are there for a purpose. Many are members of some trade association that could be worth contacting if there are problems.

Member
tahrey says:
10 August 2012

“Never leave them on, unless they’re designed to be left on”

I would posit that both fridge freezers, and any device which includes some kind of time delay, is “designed to be left on” (unattended). As are all manner of other things – including conventional ovens, which are far more dangerous most of the time than a fridge or washing machine, because they’re perfectly capable of setting things on fire. So what exactly is the official or practical advice in this case? Where do we stand? And what, exactly, is a device that is NOT “designed to be left on”?

Let’s not lose track of the fact that the Beko fridges caught on fire *because they were faulty*. You could be in the bath, or asleep, and it could light off (or so could your washer), and the first you’d know would be the smoke alarm, by which point it’d be touch and go as to whether you could deal with the situation without the emergency services. Evacuation would be the best first step… so then you’re out of the house anyway.

I set my washing machine to run a cycle just in time for me to get home quite often. Never had a problem. And, if it’s properly engineered, there’s no reason why there should be, any more than with any other device I use that’s continually powered.
(Clocks, PC, router, cable box, induction hob, microwave, night light, illuminated switch for the shower…)

Member

My tesco kettle was switched on at 4 am in the morning by my hubby, fortunately he didn’t sit down and fall asleep. He stayed in the kitchen, a strange smell made him turn and look at the kettle, flames were coming from the switch and an acrid smell filled the house, I spoke to tesco they said they couldn’t do anything as I hadn’t kept the receipt, I explained I wasn’t interested in the money (it was about 14 months old) it was the fact that there might be a manufacture defect, didn’t make any difference they still needed a receipt. Lets hope nobody dies because of a faulty kettle.
Model JKR 17 rapid boil kettle telco’s own.

Member

Tesco should not have ignored this. I suggest you contact Trading Standards, which which deals with reports of potentially dangerous domestic goods.

I fail to understand why it is legal to sell kettles and fan heaters with plastic cases.

Member
Mark says:
26 January 2013

The same thing happened last night to our kettle and ours is only around 6 months old, will be reporting incident to trading standards.

Member
Deacon Homeworks says:
12 October 2012

I found these comments and figures very helpful, as we have recently fitted a new Beko dishwasher to the office. After asking around, we decided it was better (safer) to start the cycle when the first person arrives, rather than leave it on overnight in an empty building. On a slightly different note, after reading about the tumble dryers, mine is a washer/dryer and I believe the system is slightly different. The washer works as normal, but if a separate dry cycle is required, the fluff is washed out of the machine before the actual drying starts. This flush also occurs through the pipes before the machine fills with water for the wash cycle. There is no fluff filter as such.

Member
Julie Beestin says:
22 July 2014

My sister left her dryer on overnight on a timer switch this got stuck so the dryer kept on going and overheated and set fire to the clothes causing major damage and they nearly lost their lives as they had no fire alarms. I have fitted fire alarms and never would leave my dryer or washing machine on overnight and would always advise others to do the same as I have seen what happens and what potentially could happen be safe