Many people are worrying as to whether their tumble dryer is a disaster waiting to happen in their home.
The revelation that millions of homes have faulty tumble dryers has highlighted this. And it was recently revealed by Which? that it could take years for Whirlpool to eventually service and modify all of its at-risk dryers.
In total, there are 5.3 million fire-risk dryers. They affect ones sold between 2004 and 2015 and consists of 127 models from Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan, and Proline. The machines affected are large air-vented and condensing dryers.
What Is The Problem?
The fire risk is the result of excess fluff getting trapped and coming into contact with the heating element on the tumble dryer.
Fixing the fault involves the replacement of the complete back panel and rear drum seal. Plus, a mechanical pin installed to the rear of the drum prevents a build-up of lint.
Whirlpool says they are managing to modify 4,300 tumble dryers a day.
And RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) recommend that everyone checks whether or not their tumble dryer is one of those affected. There are still millions of customers of yet to respond to the safety notice, so don’t put off checking.
The Electrical Safety First website has all the information you’ll need to do this.
I Have An Affected Machine, What Should I Do?
If you discover that you own one of the affected tumble dryers, then you should contact the manufacturer and agree on a solution with them.
They are offering a free repair to customers with a machine less than one-year-old. Those with older machines have the option of a new tumble dryer at a reduced cost.
But the advice is mixed as to whether the machines are safe to use in the meantime.
Whirlpool insists that they are. They advise cleaning the lint filter after every use and recommend not using the machines when unattended.
However, Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First, said:
“The notice clearly says that the machines should not be left unattended. In our view, not only is this impractical for a tumble dryer on a long cycle, but a fire can also take hold very quickly. We know there have been fires caused by these appliances and we think the risk is just too big to take.”
“We are advising people to stop using affected appliances until they have been modified and declared safe to use by Whirlpool’s engineer. We agree that customers’ reports of waits of up to eleven months are too long.”
“In relation to whether or not consumers can have confidence in the repairs being made, we would presume that any reputable manufacturer will ensure that repairs are properly undertaken by a suitably qualified person. However, should anyone be concerned about the safety of their machine after it has been repaired, they should have no hesitation in contacting the manufacturer again.”
Tumble Dryer Safety Advice
Generally, tumble dryers are safe products to use.
The advice which Whirlpool give is good, general tumble dryer safety advice. Cleaning the filter after every use prevents fluff from building up and potentially combusting as it’s heated.
And you should never leave any appliance running unattended or overnight anyway. That way, you’re on hand to react quickly should something go wrong. Quick action could prevent a fire from occurring, or reduce its seriousness.
It’s also important to not overload the machines, and try not to squeeze everything into one load. A half-load will dry a lot quicker, and because the heat can circulate, it will prevent clothes from reaching dangerously high temperatures.
And as such, the appliance needs to be in a well-vented room, with nothing placed up tight against the unit. Also, make sure that the vent pipe is properly fitted and in no way kinked, crushed or damaged.
But it is also important that you don’t ignore the warning signs. For example, if you can smell burning, react before it does start to burn.
Or if clothes are taking longer to dry, or are feeling hotter than usual at the end of a cycle, then these can also be signs that something is wrong.
Don’t forget to also install smoke alarms in your home, and regularly check that they are still working. They will quickly alert you when they detect a fire so that your family can get themselves safely and swiftly out of harm’s way.
And remember that by registering your appliances, you make it easier for manufacturers to notify you should it get recalled. And that guarantees you’re informed of any important safety information.
Phil Buckle adds:
“We have created an online product checker at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/recall so that consumers’ can check whether a tumble dryer – or any other appliance in their home – has been recalled.”