Exploding door glass who’s fault is it?

I still receive emails from people whose washing machine door glass has shattered, or “exploded”. I’ve included two photos recently supplied to me in this article. It’s hard to get a proper perspective on how widespread it is, but I’m assuming it’s still relatively rare. I’ve had over 100 incidents reported to me, but this has been over 10 years. For more details on this issue, see my main article – washing machine door glass danger.

But read on if you are wondering – whose fault is it when the door glass on your washing machine shatters?

Manufacturers are blaming users

Manufacturers are claiming that it’s caused by overloading the washing machine, or leaving coins or other metal objects inside pockets. If this proves to be the case, they may have a point. But can manufacturers completely wash their hands of this problem, and is it really caused by user misuse? Some door glasses are shattering when the washing machine hasn’t even been running for several hours or more.

Door glass did not shatter in the past

One of the main things that informs my opinion on this matter is that, in my experience, door glass did not shatter like this in the past. This is despite seeing many thousands of coins, keys, penknives, and all sorts of undesirable objects getting inside washing machines. It’s also despite seeing thousands of very badly overloaded washing machines. Some of which went so crazy on spin that they walked across the kitchen, and damaged kitchen cupboards and worktops.

I’ve been repairing washing machines since 1976. I never saw a single case where any of these incidents caused a door glass to shatter. I only ever had to replace 2 or 3 door glass bowls on washing machines, and none of them had shattered. They’d just developed large cracks after unusual incidents. I recall that one of them had something heavy dropped on the glass when the door was left open, which just cracked. It was so unusual to need to replace a door glass that they had to be special orders, and took some time to arrive.

There’s no doubt that overloading, and leaving coins in pockets is extremely well known, common, and very predictable behaviour. So I would expect manufactures to ensure the door glass is strong enough to withstand these incidents. I personally doubt that the door glass shattering issue is caused by overloading or obstructions. But if it is, then it’s likely to be only because manufacturers have changed the way they make the door glass.

Only relatively modern washing machines have door glass that “explodes” and shatters. So manufacturers must have started to use tensioned (safety) glass, whereas before they just used really thick glass.

Is the broken glass safe or dangerous?

Door glass shattered into small pieces

Apart from who’s fault it is, another issue is whether or not this is a safety issue. If the door glass breaks safely, with no risk of injury, and user “misuse” is to blame (such as overloading or leaving coins in pockets), then maybe we need to accept some responsibility. If we don’t use products properly, we can suffer inconvenient breakdowns and associated costs in putting it right.

But if the door glass shatters into dangerously sharp shards, exploding outwards and potentially hitting children & pets who might be in front of it, then it might be fair to see it differently. In this case, you might argue that manufacturers know full well that people will overload their washing machines, and that they will leave metal objects inside pockets. Therefore, you would expect that manufacturers have a legal duty to design against the door glass shattering – even if failure to use as instructed or leaving objects in pockets does cause it.

Do manufacturers have a duty in law to protect users from dangerous consequences of not following instructions? And do they have a duty to pre-empt easily predictable and well-known user behaviour? Particularly if the actions can result in dangerous consequences, not easily predictable by users. For example, who would predict that overloading a washing machine could cause the glass to explode?

Is there even such a thing as duty of care in design?

I was recently writing a new safety article about electrical adapters and plug extension sockets, and how easy it is to overload one, causing electrical overheating – which could set fire to your house.

I wondered why these extension sockets and adapters don’t have built in safety devices to protect against overloading and potentially lethal fires. Then it hit me. This is even more serious than the door glass issue, and yet there’s no safety device inside to protect users from misusing them with dangerous consequences. So maybe manufacturers don’t have to predict user behaviour and protects users from consequences?

Another example is where people have left laptops on beds or soft furnishings, blocking the vents underneath and causing it to catch fire. Again, this is technically misuse, and no doubt warned against in the instruction manuals. There are very dangerous consequences, and yet they haven’t been designed anticipating people will place them on soft furnishings, which will block the vents. They’ve not even designed them to cut out before catching fire. Surely they should be? (Continued below)..

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Door glass broken into shards

Possibly people will have a legitimate claim against these manufacturers for not thinking about those potentially lethal consequences, but maybe not. It’s not really clear. I would love to know the answer.

People do need to take responsibility for their own actions, but at the same time we all make mistakes, and have lapses of concentration or judgement. So shouldn’t easily predictable mistakes, and even misuse, be made safe by design?

This premise is already in action on many other things…

Examples of accident prevention design already in use

Despite the points in the last few paragraphs, manufacturers clearly do design safety features (which they would never dream of removing) into washing machines to protect users from their own stupid actions. The door lock, for example. You cannot open the door whilst the drum is spinning, for obvious reasons.

Imagine the outcry and litigation if anyone could just open the door whilst the drum is spinning at full speed. So manufacturers do either have a legal, or moral obligation, or they wouldn’t always fit a door lock device. They could just tell users in the instruction book not to open the door whilst it’s running. Then, if someone does and loses an arm, they can say it’s misuse – their own fault.

Summary

Sadly, I can’t give a definitive answer as to who’s fault it is. It may or may not prove to be user misuse. But if they believe it is caused by overloading etc. you would hope they would at least warn users about it properly in the instruction book. Something like – Warning: overloading, leaving coins and other foreign objects in pockets, or washing laundry with metal buckles etc could cause the door glass to shatter.

Is door glass breaking safely – or dangerously?

This is a pivotal point. If the door glass always shatters safely, and there is no danger to anyone, or any pet, and it is caused by misuse, then it could be argued that it’s not really a consumer issue. But, if the door glass shattering could cause injury to a small child or pet, or some of the pieces of glass are sharp and dangerous, then it should surely be a consumer issue that manufacturers need to address urgently.

See the experiences of consumers who have contacted me, and some of their photos –

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13 thoughts on “Exploding door glass who’s fault is it?”

  1. Our washing machine beko glass door exploded this was during the usual rinse cycle this was four weeks ago they finally sent out a engineer who condemned the machine and now beko say due to us having good insurance to replace the machine they cannot help us. We lost a lot of washing due to small Chards of glass all over the clothing and we have 3 children thank God none were near the machine. This is a pure machine faulty as agreed by the engineer so surely beko should give some recompense.

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Jason. If they have conceded it’s a fault then yes you ought to be able to claim for damaged laundry too. I don’t know what insurance they are talking about. If it’s an extended warranty and it’s covered it’s not so bad, but you shouldn’t have to claim on house insurance. House insurance would only reclaim from them anyway and put your policy renewal up.

  3. The glass on our Beko WTL104121W washing machine unexpectedly broke this evening while not in use. Came as a surprise while sat in living room too hear an almighty crash and too see the washer glass on the floor when entering the kitchen. The machine is only 4 months old

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Colin. I’ve started getting more recent reports like yours after a long period of hearing nothing. I can’t be sure if it’s because the issue disappeared and has comeback, or whether it’s just something as simple as the presence of my articles on Google going up and down.

    I haven’t had this problem myself, but I’ve had a very similar issue when, all of a sudden, one of the large conservatory roof glass panels at my house suddenly did exactly the same. Just out of nowhere, the internal panel of the double glazed unit just spontaneously shattered.

    I did a bit of research about it and found that it is one of the potential issues with this type of glass. It is made with a built-in tension inside the glass so that if it breaks, the whole thing goes at once and should break into small harmless pieces. The conservatory company tried to tell me that I’d have to pay for a new one, but I insisted that it must’ve been a fault in manufacture, or installation. They ended up installing a new one for me for free.

    The washing machine manufacturers seem to be holding a similar line. I don’t know if anything has changed, but in the early days they just blamed the customer, saying they must have overloaded the washing machine or washed something with a metal buckle etc.

  5. I have a brand new lg washtower in a vacation home that had just finished a remodel. We walked into the laundry room after being gone 3 weeks and there were large shards of glass on the floor. The internal glass had shattered. Two unwashed towels were in the washer. Just absolutely bizarre. LG has been great (thru Costco support) and is replacing the glass for us.

    1. LG DLEX4000B glass on the inside of the dryer door shattered. A large bedspread and no metal objects. It just doesn’t make sense. I know people shopping for a dryer will not look here for potential problems so I am going to repost on a few shopper sites. I think people should be warned about he poor designs.

      If my washer’s door gasket had not failed earlier I probably would not be so upset. The door gasket isn’t on the door so it would be out of the way when putting clothes into or pulling them out. NO, they put the gasket where you have to drag the clothing across the surface of the gasket with each load. CRAZY design.

  6. Stephen mcgrath

    Today our hoover tumble dryer’s door glass was not on and had not been on in over week hear loud bang and the glass was in two bits

  7. I bought my Hotpoint Washing machine in 2019 and tonight after 4 years of use the glass door has exploded! Nothing sharp or coins where in with the laundry so it seems obvious that it must be a manufacturers fault. My last washer/dryer lasted me 10 years so very disappointed to learn that this seems to be an ongoing issue for many. Tomorrow I will be ringing up Hotpoint to see what they have to say as mine does not seem to be listed on the list of those that have been recalled.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Katie. No washing machines have been recalled for the door glass shattering. This is a separate issue to the other issue where washing machines actually exploded out of their casings.

  8. ELECTROUX EFLS617STT0
    Purchased 2016

    Glass in door just exploded. It sent shards of glass into and out of spinning drum. Almost got my arm cut multiple times trying to reach the power button to turn the machine off. It happened the moment I walked into the utility room, so i saw it happen. What a dangerous mess. We had to trash some clothes that were torn to shreads. Load was not overloaded or underloaded. Same load size as always.and no metal objects. Probably lost $300 in clothes. Electrolux basically asked if anyone was hurt or other property damage. Husband took door off to remove the glass still remaining in the door. It had exposed glass with sharp knawrled edges waiting to cut anyone walking by. Took about 4 hours of cleanup in the utility room and inside the drum. I’m afraid to leave the house now with a front loader machine running for fear it will destroy itself while running. This was not tempered glass because it came apart with multiple glass shards. I was almost sliced several times and could have been killed trying to turn off the machine with glass flying in the room. The picture above on this webpage is a good example of what I experienced except I had a little less glass remaining in the door.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Julie. Unfortunately, my article and experience is only relating to UK washing machines. I have no idea what real differences there are in washing machines in say the US or other faraway places :)

      However, your description strongly implies that safety glass is not present. Is it a very old washing machine by any chance?

  9. Our Beko WTB941R4W washing machine had the glass explode out. Purchased in 2019.
    We were sat watching TV and heard the sound of glass shattering, thinking someone was trying to break into our utility room window we jumped up only to find the large sharp pieces of glass on the floor.
    We checked our cameras in the room to find that 2 hours after the washer has finished a 30° wash. The glass had just exploded out without warning.

    Reading a lot of articles on the matter the blame is often placed on the customer for miss using the washer, in our case I have some heavy duty work trousers that have some large metal buttons that on occasion get caught in between the seal and the glass which has caused a mark on the glass.

    We have yet to contact Beko regarding the incident, but I have a feeling we will be to blame for this incident in some as often seems the case.

    let see what they have to say.

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