This is the biggest appliance fire risk safety notice ever issued in the UK (in my experience). The brands affected are Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit tumble dryers but some other related but lesser-known brands are affected too (see below). They are all part of the same manufacturing group (Whirlpool).
Remarkably it covers potentially millions of condenser and vented dryers sold over the last 11 years. It’s probably safe to say that most Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit dryers made before 2015 are affected unless made before 2004. The manufacturer has published the following statement –
A potential concern with two types of tumble dryers manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. In some rare cases, excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire”. Basically it’s been found that a build up of fluff can in some cases come into contact with the heating elements and ignite. As an engineer I can confirm that tumble dryers can accumulate quite remarkable amounts of fluff inside – due to either poor design, damaged filters or if the filters aren’t carefully looked after and cleaned after every use.”
Which tumble dryers are affected?
Affected brands are: Hotpoint | Indesit | Creda | Proline | Swan tumble dryers, manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015
Over 100 different models are affected. It’s important to note that if you bought one of these tumble dryers after September 2015 it does not guarantee your model is not affected. This is because one could be in stock for some time after being manufactured before being sold. The affected tumble dryers were manufactured between the dates quoted above. You should check to see if your model is affected using the links below if you have any of these brands of dryer.
How to check if your dryer is subject to this safety notice
It’s very easy. Get your model and serial number from behind the door and enter the numbers into the manufacturer’s web sites below and then follow any instructions –
Green spot sticker?
Check to see if your tumble dryer has a small green spot sticker. Look behind the door, or near to the door seal, or anywhere on the machine including the back. A green spot sticker indicates that the fault has been fixed in the past. This is likely if you have had any engineer to repair it previously. It seems to show that prior to the announcement their engineers were already quietly making modifications. It’s up to you to decide if you trust it’s been done or not.
Is it safe to keep using an affected tumble dryer?
This safety notice specifically says, “consumers may continue to use their products, provided that appliances are not left unattended whilst operating”. However, clearly the notice has been issued because one could suddenly catch fire. So use your common sense. Personally I would say get it checked asap. If it’s an affected model have it modified before using again. If you must use it you need to not leave it running without anyone close by and accept that it could catch fire. If you are not going to be in a position to deal with any fire and have no suitable fire extinguisher etc then just do not take the risk.
Update: Whirlpool finally change their advice
Whirlpool eventually changed their advice inline with my above paragraph. They were now advising people with affected dryers not to use them until they have been fixed. This is the only common sense and safe attitude to adopt unless someone is stood watching one with fire extinguisher to hand.
However, after unrelenting campaigning by Which? The government have finally acted – Whirlpool told to recall dryers in ‘unprecedented’ government move
More advice on fire risks in appliances
I’ve always advised never to leave any washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher running whilst no one is around and these safety notices only confirm the wisdom of such advice. Tumble dryers – particularly condenser dryers – need to be properly looked after. If you have any brand of dryer you should make sure you are aware of all the filters inside and ensure they are always clean. Condenser dryers in particular can have several filters with some of them hidden behind panels or doors. Blocked filters can cause overheating!