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More exploding washing machines?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen, it seems that some washing machine doors may be falling out or exploding, leaving kitchens covered in shards of glass. Has this happened to you?

This is not the same issue as the exploding Candy washing machines we reported last year. That was due to a fault with some Hoover/Candy machines produced before September 2009, which could result in the drum breaking loose while spinning.

The problem I’m talking about today is the door on washing machines, and the glass within, apparently falling out or shattering. And some reports claim that the machine wasn’t even in use at the time!

Washing machine glass door danger?

The forum Whitegoodshelp, run by washing machine guru Andy Trigg, has been collecting stories from those who say they’ve been affected. Joanne told him:

‘Bought a Beko washing machine less than two months ago and 20 mins ago the glass shattered. It was on a final spin and sent the shards of glass all over the kitchen floor and the clothes inside are covered in VERY SHARP pieces.’

An anonymous poster added their own horror story:

‘My Miele W3740 washing machine glass door suddenly exploded shedding shattered glass and water around the room. The machine cost £700 and is only twenty months old so still within guarantee.’

There are now almost 50 cases reported on the forum and it seems the reported problems are not confined to one manufacturer. In fact, the list includes Beko, Miele, Zanussi, Bosch, Hoover, LG and Samsung.

And of the cases reported so far, twelve are apparently about washing machines that weren’t in use at the time. Gary shares his story:

‘My Meile W1613 had been unused for a few days when a “bang” was heard. On inspection the inner glass door had exploded. Just to clarify: it was not in use at the time.’

So what seems to be going on?

This hasn’t happened to any washing machines during our lab tests, so we have been unable to observe it in laboratory conditions and follow up with a proper analysis. But going through the accounts on Andy’s forum, there are theories ranging from hair cracks in the glass, or even that the glass is just thinner than it used to be. Still, nothing has been confirmed.

It has also been suggested by a manufacturer that initial scratches on the glass could be caused by hard items like zip ends and belt buckles striking the door during the wash.

We’ve contacted the manufacturers, and they’re looking into the problem. Beko, whose machines have generated the largest number of incidents on the Whitegoodshelp forum, has responded by saying:

‘Whilst we have no reason to believe that there is a fault with our washing machine range, we are investigating these incidents in full and always take such matters seriously. If customers have any questions, they can call our Customer Service number on 0800 009 4837 for further information.’

Has your glass washing machine door fallen out or exploded? If so, let us know in the comments below, and if you’ve taken any pictures, please email them to us at HomeEditor@which.co.uk.

Comments

For once I’ll stick up for LG – in the 18 months I had one of their WM1444TDS machines in 2008 / 2009 almost everything that could go wrong with it did ….but the door glass never shattered, rattled, wobbled in it’s mount or gave any other concern. In fact, the door glass, which was quite thick, was probably the best made part of the whole machine.

My 1983 Hoover has never had a door glass problem either.

Could this have anything to do with heat? My 1983 Hoover has Pyrex branded door glass, the LG didn’t appear to have any brand etched into the glass, even though it was strong. Could manufacturers be using less heat resilient glass in the hope / expectation that everyone washes at stupidly cold temperatures these days?

I’m surprised if Miele are cutting corners though.

Or could it be anything to do with pressure between inner and outer glasses in machines with double-glazed doors? I know some machines have double glazed doors to reduce noise and make the door “cool to the touch” (the LG didn’t and the Hoover hasn’t). Possibly if the affected machines have double glazed doors there could be some build up of pressure, especially when a very hot cycle is run?

Sorry – I’ve no ideas on this one except to say I’ve never heard of such a thing until Andy’s forum started listing it.

Regarding washing machines, can someone explain why we have glass windows on cloth washers and not on dish washers.

I have always assumed it is because the manufacturers realised that watching their washing machine programmes was more interesting than watching most of those on TV. 🙂

But to be serious, I think you have a good point.

Some dishwashers in the 1980’s did have windows on them.

I think the idea of having a window is rather like the reason that so many people buy Dyson and similar Cyclone vacuums: the public generally have an obsession with seeing dirt, especially dirt that is (supposedly) being removed for them.

My best guess is that dishwashers don’t have glass for two reasons: 1) they work at very high temperatures most of the time so the glass would be very hot, an insulated metal door solves this issue and
2) dishwasher detergent (especially the big names like Finish and many of the cheaper brands too) ruins glass quite quickly, so the door would soon look very unattractive.

Just guesses but I can’t think of any other reasons either way.

Dave is right about dishwashers. Dishwasher detergent is strongly alkaline and would soon make a glass door opaque.

I sometimes switch my washing machine off if I have to go out because I wouldn’t dream of leaving it unattended. Having once opened the door and had the rinsing water land on the floor, I always check beforehand. Being able to see what’s happening in a washing machine is useful for diagnosing problems.

The discrimination of dishwashers from washing machines through the door differences is also a helpful way to avoid putting the crockery in with the underwear.

Yes John – coffee mugs and D-cups need to be washed separately. 🙂

My seven year old Candy made an almighty bang and started emitting acrid smoke while on the last part of a spin yesterday. Luckily it didn’t explode but it did fill my kitchen with suffocating smoke, only alleviated by opening the window and closing the door for most of the night….. To say it was frightening is an understatement but now that I’ve investigated further and found that these machines are known to be faulty and dangerous I am extremely angry!

How an earth has Candy got away with not doing a recall or at the very least alerting customers to the possible dangers. Thank god I was here and alert to what was happening as I fear I would have suffered the same fate, or worse, as some of the users of these dodgy appliances.

I contacted Candy today whom at first tried to fob me off with a charged call-out. However, when I mentioned this article and others they agreed to send an engineer on Monday to carry out ‘an assessment’.

The machine has been turned off at the mains and I don’t intend to ever use it again . It obviously falls within the pre-September 2009 category and as such more likely to be effected by this fault, however my warranty is well and truly passed. There must be lots of other customers like me. I contacted Which for advice but was told they are unable to respond to indiviual queries but can’t find any other information apart from the above article from last year.

Would really appreciate any advise anyone may have as to where I stand etc. My case shows that this problem is still on-going.

I suspect that you might find the Candy problem that you have is the Suppressor blowing, rather than anything actually “exploding”.

I’m sure others will be interested to hear what they tel you whe they “inspect” it.

Gonwaban says:
30 September 2012

If your washer is showing minor signs of wear after 7 years you should be glad it lasted that long! Anyway… as far as I know you old Candy couldn’t have possibly had the drum explosion problem. The suppressor theory already suggested is very likely, when these things blow do make a very loud bang (+smoke/smell)… it happened to my dishwasher last year, but the appliance kept on working even afterwords, however, I just got a new suppressor online for a tenner. Let us know how you get on.

As for the discussion on this thread, I never had it happen to me… however, my parent’s washer had to have the doorglass replaced because it got badly damaged apparently by a pair of flip-flops 😀

SueB says:
5 December 2012

My Candy Aquaviva has just done exactly the same on the final spin cycle, a loud bang and clouds of smoke. It continued to spin whilst smoke poured from the machine. Like you, I switched it off straight away and will not be using it again.

Natasha Hughes says:
2 October 2012

Last year my Miele washing machine exploded all over my kitchen. It was on the hottest wash with whites. Sharp glass all over the room and through the whole wash which had to be binned(No reinbursement for loss)
It was fixed under warranty so they DO have reports of exactly this incident ON FILE!!!!

Echoskye says:
15 January 2013

I have a Miele too (model W5964WPS). I had cause to get a Miele engineer out as the machine was leaking (tut tut). However, without consultation, the engineer re-programmed the machine, omitting to tell me that he had de-programmed all 95c washes to 90c! I am absolutely furious with Miele. They say they cannot do anything as it is EU legislation. Apparently all machines made now are set at 90c maximum. Has this happened to anyone else?

Karen says:
17 March 2013

My Miele W5740 washing machine glass door has exploded today, very frightening, and I dread to see what it has done to my clothes which i have left inside untilt he engineer visits. I noticed the glass has shredded the rubber seal, will Miele be liable to replace the whole machine under the 10 year warranty, machine is only just over 2 years old.

There could be a case for using laminated glass for washing machine doors. The inner and/or outer glass layer could still break but the plastic layer between would prevent sharp pieces of glass being thrown around the room. Laminated glass works well for car windscreens.

Has any manufacturer tried this and does it work?

Not as far as I’m aware because not even Miele – arguably the best possible quality money can currently buy – are immune from this issue. The door glass could be made to shatter safely using laminate as in bullet-proof glass or as in windscreens. Glass, is not weak or delicate by default, it can be made thick enough and tough enough to withstand known stresses.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toughened_glass

There’s always the possibility that the shape required for a washing machine door glass may cause problems using laminate. I don’t claim to understand the process on any authoritative level or want to fall into the trap of making sweeping assumptions. However, I think it’s safe to say these door glasses could be made stronger.

Toughened glass would be of little use for this application, where scratches and impacts from zip fasteners etc could result in the glass shattering into thousands of tiny pieces and the entire door glass falling out. The Wikipedia link shows what happens. With a washing machine, the water and washing could be deposited on the floor. The biggest advantage of toughened glass is that the pieces do not cause serious cuts like ordinary glass.

Miele may be better than average but like every manufacturer of consumer goods, they have to achieve a balance between cost and quality to compete. If laminated door glass was seen as a valuable selling point I’m sure they or some other manufacturer would offer it.

There’s always the possibility that the shape required for a washing machine door glass may cause problems using laminate. I don’t claim to understand the process on any authoritative level or want to fall into the trap of making sweeping assumptions. However, I think it’s safe to say these door glasses could be made stronger.

I don’t know either, but I have seen curved laminated glass. If it is not possible to produce a laminated door glass of the required shape then it is possible to have a small inspection window and internal light, which works fine on industrial bioreactors that have to cope with steam sterilisation at hight temperature and pressure without failure.

Deborah Hargreaves says:
3 October 2012

I have an Indesit washing machine and last Thursday the glass on the door exploded and sent shards of glass all over my kitchen, 2 of my sons were in there at the time and although not hurt they were very shaken up. I reported to Indesit who said that all the doors were lab tested and there were no faults, they would fix it but it would cost me £79.99, after reading an article in the Daily Mirror about this yesterday I was shocked to hear that so many people had had the same thing happen to them.

sylvia says:
24 January 2014

hi can you contact me about your indesit machine, thanks

Cherry says:
5 October 2012

For years we had the Phillips (Slimstar??) tall washing machines without the glass windows, each was over 12 yrs old when changed. I have better things to do than watch my washing. Perhaps the makers will return to top loaders, which worked well for me.

Sandra Cutting says:
15 January 2013

Trying to get through to Indesit as my daughter has had stitches in her hand as her door on her washing machine exploded.Disgusted with the company as won’t fix it and want to “asses” it first and leave her with no machine!!

The glass door in my Miele W1716 imploded [rather than exploded] whilst within it’s 2 year warranty though little used. I had bought it for my mother but it was used only once before she had to go into hospital where she died. It stood unused for about a year till I cleared her house when I took it up the road to my house where it was used only a couple of times before the implosian. It was not in use and I was in another room at the time. At first I couldn’t see what had caused the noise but later found the glass mainly inside the drum of the machine with just a little on the floor in front as I had left the dooor ajar. At least it was quickly replaced under warranty.
As an engineer, albeit a civil engineer, I believe that there must have been tensions in the glass from how it had been originally fitted which caused the implosion

I’m sure you are right about tension in the glass, John. This could be tension in the glass or from how it is mounted in the door.

Those working with glass use a polariscope to visualise these tensions or stresses. It is amazing to have a look at everyday items and find out how much internal stress there is in some of them. This stress can be removed by annealing (heating to a temperature below the melting point and slow cooling), but that takes time and costs money.

Stresses can be introduced deliberately to strengthen glass and the most extreme example is toughened glass, such as that used in car side windows and some double glazed panels. When it does break, it produces tiny pieces that are not nearly as dangerous as ordinary broken glass.

Jane Fletcher says:
5 October 2012

Anybody know which BEKO machines are effected as l just took delivery of a WMB91442LW yesterday!!

I have this exact model – delivered on 11th October – the door glass exploded last night on the last spin cycle – contacted Beko who will get an engineer to contact within 24 hours – if I want compensation for the clothes which are covered in tiny slithers of glass I have to post them at my own cost to the head office!!
Not a happy customer

This problem is long standing and was reported at: http://www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/washing-machine-door-glass-danger/
in June 2008, where it was stated that the issue had produced comments for the previous 2 1/2 years – so the effect was noticed as far back as 2006. My 30 year old Philco is still intact!

Lynne says:
6 October 2012

My 5 year old Hotpoint decided to blow open the door whilst working and continued working until I noticed it almost at the end of the programme (it was in our utility room, so not in view!) the result was an almighty mess of water,suds and floating debris. I thought the machine should have shut down when the door opens. I am currently in process of replacing it so would like any comments that may be available, please.

Jane says:
6 October 2012

The door on our John Lewis washing machine imploded during summer 2011. When we called their helpline they were suprisingly unhelpful, & when we mentioned the sale of goods act they said that they were only liable to tell us where we could get it repaired after a call-out charge of approximately £80 for someone to tell us that the glass was broken!!!!!! We declined this offer & called in a local firm who supplied & fitted a new door very reasonably. He said that he had never come across this happening before. The washing machine is about 5 years old & hasn’t caused any further problems- it is in our garage & fortunately was at the end of a cycle when the door shattered.

Gina says:
15 October 2012

I had this happen very unexpectedly with an oven. I had cleaned it the day before using a mix of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar as an experiment. I am wondering if the answer to this problem lies with a washing powder – perhaps a manufacturer has altered the quantity of soda or some other ingredient. Am no scientist, I’ve no idea why this might be the case but it was the only thing I could think of when my oven door blew out, I could see there were some traces of bicarb on it, so it might be worth investigating as I think it is an ingredient in washing powders.

As far as I know, these materials are not included in any washing powders. Washing machine doors can be weakened by repeated damage caused by zips, coins and other items.

Oven doors have to withstand repeated heating and cooling. I believe they are made of toughened glass, which has a reputation for shattering unexpectedly. It seems very unlikely that baking soda and vinegar would cause this damage.

Why is this allowed to happen? Are there no safety regulations when it comes to glass?

This was unheard of 20 years ago. Must be caused by thinner glass, which is cheaper to manufacture but not strong enough to withstand the normal scrapes and knocks from the clothes rotating and spinning? Being thinner glass, a zip, coin etc could scratch or hit the glass and be enough to weaken it until it breaks, either immediately or some time later. Once the glass is weakened, I believe that it only takes the right force to then shatter the glass, such as heat or cold, which might explain why there are reports of the glass shattering when the washing machine is not being used?

I have commented upon my own experiences before.My implosion certainly wasn’t caused by knocks or zips as it had only been used about three times and never encountered anything likely to cause damage, . My Miele actually imploded too when not in use and after it had not been used for several days. I think such causes can be discounted and it is the glass and perhaps more importantly how it’s fitted that is the cause.

This page on Wikipedia explains spontaneous glass breakage and some of the reasons why it occurs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_glass_breakage

Mr McManus says:
2 November 2012

Yes, a BEKO WM 5120 W exploded in my kitchen on 30th October 2012. Two year old. Shards of glass and flooding. Not nice. Have emailed BICO to let them know. Dangerous if pets or toddlers were in the room at the time. Thankfully not. Peterborough, Cambs.

Gina says:
2 November 2012

Well I am still not convinced the detergent maybe something to do with this recent surge in cases. Have a look at this article about TWO separate fires caused by – I kid you not – exploding teatowels – on the same day in one town last month: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9993940.Exploding_tea_towels_warning_after_Brighton_fires/
Doesn’t that suggest that the detergent is the issue? The fire chief there thinks so. I am wondering if there is an over-concentrated batch going about, or maybe a regular ingredient used by the manufacturers is for some reason more volatile than usual.

How does the detergent solution explain explosians occuring when machines are not in use, or little used or out of use for some days?

M WEST says:
7 November 2012

re; MIELE 3740
I replaced my old (21 years) Miele automatic washing machine with this Miele 3740 some 5 years ago. I must say a) it has not been as proverbially reliable – the electronic command unit broke down just after the 3 year guarantee expired – , b) it is supposed to adjust the programs to the weight of the loads on the main washes but the adjustment if any is so insignificant as to be unnoticeable and c) for some odd reason the ‘wool’ cycle spin speed default is 1200 rpm which causes substantial shrinkage of some woollens. SO next time I need a washing machine MIELE will not be my priority brand…..

Does anyone know why washing machines need a glass window? Top loaders don’t, twin tubs didn’t, and lights tell you what it’s up to. I can’t see why, so why not just make an all-metal door?

I think this is what customers expect, Malcolm. A front-loading machine without a glass window would appeal to those who have had one fail but I don’t expect that they would sell well.

Over the years we have been conditioned into believing that we need washing machines need to have a high spin speed, despite the fact that this makes it harder to design a reliable and safe machine. I am very happy with my 30 year old machine with an 800 rpm maximum spin speed. One of the advantages is that coins and other foreign objects that find their way into the machine are less likely to smash the door.

j sharp says:
29 December 2012

my hoover vision hd washing machine door has just exploded during the final spin i have glass over the kitchen floor and in the drum and a damaged load of xmas clothes am not happy