You might experience a sense of deja vu as you hear about the fire safety concerns about Whirlpool tumble dryers. It has been a few years since this was first in the news, after all. Now Whirlpool is back in the headlines as the UK government finally addresses the product safety issue. This is the latest information on what is happening with the Whirlpool dryers.
What happened with Whirlpool tumble dryers in 2015?
Many home appliance customers might remember the announcements from Whirlpool in 2015. The US corporation took over Italian rival manufacturer Indesit in 2014. A review of its products found a design flaw in some tumble dryers which could lead to starting fires. Whirlpool had to issue a safety notice in November 2015, inviting customers to check for themselves whether their model was one of the faulty ones. The company did not recall these products or offer refunds or replacements. Instead, they began a repair programme to modify the affected products and make them safe. They advertised this repair scheme and attempted to contact millions of registered owners of their faulty machines directly.
Why are Whirlpool tumble dryers unsafe?
The specific issue with these tumble dryers is that excess fluff can build up over time and come into contact with the tumble dryer’s heating element. This is a safety risk because it can start a fire. If people leave these appliances running while they are asleep or out of the home, the consequences can be severe. According to an official report, these faulty tumble dryers have been the cause of 750 fires since 2004 in the UK. Some of these fires resulted in tragic fatalities, and many people have lost belongings or even their entire homes. The modification as part of Whirlpool’s repair programme prevents the lint from coming into contact with the heating element. However, the modified tumble dryers may still be unsafe.
Which tumble dryers are affected by fire safety notices?
Not all Whirlpool tumble dryers came with this defect. You do not need to worry if you own a Whirlpool-branded appliance. The defective tumble dryers come from other brands that Whirlpool owns. Now they are responsible for these manufacturers. Tumble dryers from between 2004 and 2015 from several brands are at risk for this fault. These brands are:
More than 5 million tumble dryers would have the safety risk. Whirlpool thought that just under 4 million would still have been in use in 2015. As of 2019, following the modification programme and further dryers falling out of use, they estimate that around 500,000 tumble dryer users are still at risk. Many of them may be in rental properties with unaware tenants.
What should you do if you have a faulty Whirlpool tumble dryer model?
It is very important to check if your tumble dryer is one of the faulty ones if you have not already. You can do this by finding the model number and serial number on your tumble dryer and entering them here. This will tell you if you need to take any further action and what to do. The current advice for any owners of all faulty models is to stop using them immediately. Unplug the appliance and contact Whirlpool to discuss the options for repair or recall of the product. The repair scheme may be ending soon due to government action.
What is the UK government doing about Whirlpool tumble dryers?
Finally, several years after the discovery of the safety risk, the UK government is addressing Whirlpool’s practices. Until 2017, Whirlpool had not told customers to stop using the faulty appliances until they could apply the modifications. Trading Standards then updated this guidance to minimize the risk to customers in the meantime. Now, the UK government is responding to an April 2019 report on this ongoing situation. The Business Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, says that the UK government is serving Whirlpool a recall notice. This means that all 500,000 of the unmodified machines must be recalled rather than repaired as they had intended. Affected customers will need to wait to hear from Whirlpool. It is unclear what is going to happen regarding the tumble dryers that have already been modified at this time.