This is an updated article about washing machines “exploding”, which was previously published in mid 2011 on my original site Washerhelp. (If you are looking into exploding door glass – you need this article instead door glass exploded).
If the drum has exploded out of the washing machine then continue reading.
Hotpoint Indesit & Hoover Candy washing machines exploding
I’ve been following and collating people’s experiences of exploding washing machines for a few years now, which started abroad. The first reports were mostly of Hoover & Candy washing machines (see links at bottom of article) but for some reason focus has shifted to Hotpoint and Indesit washers even though I have over 20 reports of Hoover or Candy washing machines doing the same thing.
Manufacturer’s first assured us that UK washing machines were not affected, which turned out to be untrue. Then they decided there was no need to warn any customers with an official safety notice, which was heavily criticised by Which? Then they assured BBC Watchdog that only two models were affected, which again turned out to be untrue and gave a false sense of security to many.
Last night BBC Watchdog did a second feature on this story (the first being in November 2012) and both Indesit and Hotpoint have now accepted they need to issue a proper safety notice, and have done (links below).
The inner drums of these washing machines are coming undone at the seams or splitting on spin, which is causing the laundry and parts of the metal inner drum to burst through the top of the (plastic) outer drum and through the plastic lid and control panels.
Due to the strong centrifugal forces involved on high spin the washing machine mechanically explodes throwing debris across the room.
My original article was picked up on several months ago and made headlines around the world, many of them sensational.
However, it does appear that washing machines with this potential to explode are in use all around the UK. Manufacturers all over the world typically try to mitigate safety issues by quoting how only a very small a percentage of the hundreds of thousands built have been affected. Whilst true, surely the only thing relevant is the potential consequences, not the percentage?
Taking their argument to its logical conclusion, if a child was killed by a product with a known design or manufacturing fault a manufacturer would try to say it’s only one child but there must be a million children unaffected. Therefore it’s not the frequency – but the potential danger and seriousness that should drive this sort of thing.
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What if you have one of these washing machines?
Hotpoint and Indesit have issued statements saying
The incidents outlined has been identified as a technical issue with a very small percentage of washing machine production during periods of 2007 to 2009 could be affected. [sic] ”
The faster spinning washing machines appear to be the problem, particularly 1400 or 1600 rpm I’ve commented many times before on Washerhelp that in my opinion many modern washing machines spin too fast for their quality of build. Plastic outer tubs (or drums) also play a part in allowing this sort of thing to happen, which couldn’t happen when we had metal outer tubs.
Spinning at such high speeds puts a lot of stress and strain on a washing machine and involves powerful forces. Do manufacturers increase the quality of motors, drums, suspension etc. when they make them spin much faster? As far as I’m aware, no they don’t.
If you are concerned, you need to check your model number using the above links. If your model number isn’t officially affected but you don’t trust that it’s guaranteed to be safe the best thing you can do is –
- Make sure people stay out of the room the washing machine is in when it’s spinning – especially children. Pets also.
- Stop letting your washing machine spin at full speed by changing the wash programme, or preferably if you have options to reduce the spin speed of the final spin reduce it to 1000 rpm or as near as they will allow. If you are seriously concerned maybe even down to 800 rpm. Logic dictates that the faster one is spinning the more likely and the worse an incident could be.
I can’t guarantee these tips will prevent any incident, and some may argue it’s an over reaction to even follow these steps. People have to make up their own mind. It is true that statistically it’s very unlikely to happen to any specific washing machine, presumably even ones with affected model numbers.
The main thing to bear in mind is to limit people’s exposure to them whilst doing a load. As with all washing machines and other appliances like dishwashers and tumble dryers my advice is to never leave them on totally unattended or when in bed.
PREVIOUS COMMENTS TRANSFERRED: I’ve decided to copy and paste all previous comments that had been added to this article when it was on Washerhelp for reference. Therefore the first few pages of comments below will appear to have come from me.
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