WHIRLPOOL has admitted that there could be as many as 800,000 faulty tumble-dryers at risk of catching fire still in homes across the UK.
Bosses, who were grilled by a group of MPs today, confessed to the figure being much higher than the 500,000 dryers originally thought to have been affected.
1 Whirlpool has admitted that 800,000 faulty machines may still be in people’s homesCredit: Alamy
At fault Whirlpool machines – which also produces brands such as Hotpoint, Creda and Swan – have been blamed for at least 750 fires over the past 11 years.
But Whirpool revealed today that in recent years it’s been made aware of 54 fires in its tumble dryers, and admitted that three of those were machines that had already been modified by engineers and were supposed to be safe to use.
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee was taking evidence over the scandal that has seen 1.7million products modified.
Charlie Pugsley, deputy assistant commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, says his teams have seen a wide range of faults causing fires in machines that have already been modified.
Is your dryer on the faulty list?HERE’S how to know if your dryer is on the faulty list:Whirlpool, which owns the Hotpoint brands, says it has identified a potential concern with two types of tumble dryers manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015.
The affected brands are:
Non-affected machines will have a green sticker on the inside of the dryer door or reverse of the machine.
If your machine doesn’t have a green sticker, you need to check if it’s faulty. You can do this by locating the serial code and model number (found on the back of the dryer or on the back of the dryer door) and entering it onto the online checkers at safety.hotpoint.eu or safety.indesit.eu or safety-swan.eu.
In the hearing, Whirlpool pledged to publish a full list of all of the faulty products in addition to its existing online checker tool.
The manufacturer also promised that it will start offering giving customers with faulty machines the choice of a replacement to customers instead of modifying their existing ones.
The Sun understands that Whirlpool is waiting for a decision from the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) before offering this option to customers but hopes for a decision to be made as soon as possible.
The government is currently in talks with Whirlpool to force it to recall affected machines.
Martyn Allen, technical director of Electrical Safety First, says the charity welcomes today’s promises from the manufacturer and adds that it “encourages” customers to take up the opportunity to request a replacement dryer as soon as possible.
Sue Davies, strategic policy adviser at consumer group Which?, aded: “With Whirlpool admitting it has only managed to provide a modification or replacement for a tiny proportion of affected machines in the last two years, it’s clear that the company is failing to do enough to keep customers safe.
“Now it has acknowledged that modified machines are still catching fire.
‘My Whirlpool tumble dryer caught fire after it had been fixed’A MUM of four was forced to flee her home when her Hotpoint tumble dryer caught fire after it had been modified by Whirlpool to fix a fault.Jemma Spurr, 33, from Hampshire was at home with three of her children – Amelia, 5, Freddie, 2, and Amber, 1, when her dryer caught fire.
The blaze even damaged her fridge, freezer and washing machine beyond repair and as they were low on cash and had no home insurance they were left without vital appliances for five weeks.
The dryer was one of 3.5million machines recalled by Whirlpool, which owns Hotpoint and other white goods manufacturers, in October 2015.
Over 1.7million appliances have been modified by the firm to fix a fault, and the company claims that there have been no reports of modifications being uneffective.
But for Jemma, the blaze on her machine, which had been modified two years previously, had a devastating impact.
“The fireman said if it had been five minutes longer it would have been different story.
“Our gas pipe and boiler was really near the tumble dryer, so if that had exploded it could have been so much worse – my neighbour is a childminder and she had kids in the room next to our garage.
“It’s not worth thinking about, what could have happened.
“It’s impacted my anxiety more than anything.
“If I smell burning I’m constantly checking to see where the kids are.”
“If the safety of Whirlpool’s fire-risk tumble dryers cannot be assured, secretary of state Greg Clark must step in and ensure that all potentially dangerous machines are immediately removed from people’s homes”.
Witness Jemma Spurr (pictured above), a victim whose modified dryer caught fire, also spoke at the hearing and told politicians she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the incident, which MPs said was used for “shutting people up”.
Despite signing it, Mrs Spurr has since decided to speak out against the firm anyway.
Whirlpool defended its use of NDAs as an “important part”of the settlement process, and offered Mrs Spurr an apology at the hearing.
A spokesperson for Whirlpool said: “Safety is always our number one priority and we remain committed to resolving all unmodified dryers affected by this issue.
“As we updated the committee, we are expanding our recall campaign to include further options to encourage remaining consumers to come forward and remedy their unmodified appliances.
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“The crucial message to anyone who still owns an affected dryer and has not already had it modified by Whirlpool is to contact us immediately on 0800 151 0905, or visit safety.hotpoint.eu, safety.indesit.eu or safety-swan.eu.
“As advised by OPSS, consumers whose tumble dryers have been modified can continue to use them safely and there is no need to contact Whirlpool at this time.
“The most accurate estimate of the number of unmodified dryers in the market is 500,000 units, as reflected in the report by OPSS.”
Alice Beer talks about the Whirlpool washing machines defect
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