Washing machines in fire risk safety alert
CONSUMER WATCHDOG Which? has shared a safety alert relating to two models of Swan washing machine, which are ‘potentially unsafe’ and pose a fire risk.
Which? stated that the control units on the Swan SW1010 and 1020 machines are ‘potentially unsafe and need to be modified’, with Swan issuing the safety notice for appliances sold between 2010 and 2012. The safety advice included that the internal units have ‘failed in a small number’ of the machines, posing a ‘risk of the unit overheating, which could lead to a fire’, and as a precautionary measure, Sawn is replacing this unit ‘on all of the models concerned’.
Retailers Very and Littlewoods have already posted the safety notice, with a spokesperson from their owners Shop Direct telling Which? that there have been five fires ‘where these Swan washing machines were present’, though each was ‘small and isolated’ and each customer’s case was settled. Model numbers affected include: the SW1010W; 1010Wa; 1010B; 1010Ba; 1020W; 1020Wa; 1020B; and 1020Ba.
The consumer watchdog also shared information on how to ‘check the model number’ against those model codes affected, recommending users stop using devices ‘immediately’ if they match and ‘unplug it or switch it off at the wall’. Swan has promised a free replacement of the control unit through a repair partner, with a modification appointment free of charge and taking around 30 to 45 minutes.
Which? has also been campaigning against manufacturer Whirlpool, which criticism for failing to recall up to one million dryers posing fire risks, and its appliances caused ‘three times more’ London fires than any other manufacturer, according to London Fire Brigade (LFB). Last year a Welsh coroner said the company’s ‘reluctance to digest inquest lessons’ was an ‘obstacle to preventing further deaths’, after two men died in a flat fire in Llanrwst, North Wales in October 2014.
The government’s business, energy and industrial strategy select committee was scathing of the revelation that one million faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers are still being used in the UK, and recently told the government that Whirlpool ‘should be made to’ recall fire risk tumble dryers, having been angered by the company’s decision to close its replacement scheme for the two types of dryers, launched in 2015.
Since 2004, over 750 domestic fires ‘are thought to have been started’ by affected dryers under the Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit, ProLine and Swan brands, with ‘fluff in contact with the heating element’ catching fire. Whirlpool has replaced or repaired around 3.8m dryers after identifying the fault in November 2015, but did not issue a recall, initially notifying customers that ‘they could continue to use their dryer while waiting for modification’.
This was provided dryers were ‘not left unattended’, but the advice changed in February 2017 when Whirlpool told consumers to ‘unplug and stop using the machines’, though even ‘upgraded’ versions have caught fire, ‘prompting the new demand for a formal recall’. Most recently, a BBC investigation found that some of the machines have caught fire even after being fixed.