A Which? investigation has found that thousands of faulty appliances catch fire, and that it’s possible that some brands are more prone to catching fire than others.
Which? submitted a Freedom of Information request to government and discovered that nearly 12,000 fires were caused by faulty home products between 2011 and March 2014.
Our research discovered that more faulty washing machines and tumble dryers caught fire than TVs or irons. We can also reveal that more Hoover washing machines and Hotpoint dishwashers caught fire than we would necessarily expect.
See which manufacturers we rate as reliable washing machine brands.
Are some appliance brands more dangerous than others?
We found that 175 Hoover washing machines caught fire between January 2011 and March 2014 – 12% of the number of fires recorded for washing machines overall (excluding models where the brand wasn’t identified). Based on our market intelligence, we think Hoover’s market share is probably less than 12%, making its number of fires for this appliance type disproportionately high.
In another example, Hotpoint accounts for 38% (410) of dishwasher fires recorded where the brand could be identified. We think Hotpoint’s share of the dishwasher market is likely to be less than 38%, meaning more Hotpoint dishwashers caught fire than we would expect.
Hotpoint told us it doesn’t agree with our market-share figures and believes it’s inaccurate to draw conclusions from a relatively small number of incidents where the cause of fire is not always investigated. Hoover said it cannot establish conclusions from the data we provided.
Which? members can click to read the full article: Are your appliances dangerous?
Do product recalls work?
The products we buy must be safe and, if they’re not, manufacturers must recall them. But we believe it’s possible for some manufacturers to drag their feet when issuing a recall.
Beko recalled around 480,000 of its fridge freezers after it was established that they contained a faulty component – but not before one of its fridge freezers started the blaze that caused the death of Mr Santosh Benjamin Muthiah in November 2011.
At the inquest into Mr Muthiah’s death, it came to light that independent risk assessors highlighted the issue two years and five months before Beko publicly recalled the products.
When product recalls fall short
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘It’s shocking that some everyday household appliances can pose such a danger – washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers are often the appliances we leave on overnight or as we leave our house.
‘More needs to be done to protect consumers from this risk and it’s crucial that products known to be dangerous are recalled as quickly as possible.’
(The data is based on government figures for domestic fire incidents in Great Britain attended by fire and rescue services. It relates to 11,965 instances of appliances that were faulty, incorrectly installed or improperly maintained.)