More than half a million washing machines made by the manufacturing company Whirlpool must be recalled from UK homes because of the risk of them catching fire, the company has said.
A faulty door-locking system in Whirlpool’s Hotpoint and Indesit branded machines creates a fire risk as a result of overheating, the company said.
The machines involved were on sale for more than five years (between 2014 and 2018) with up to 519,000 washing machines believed to be affected – about 20% of the total number sold.
The company announced the news on Twitter, saying: “We are recalling certain models of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines made between 2014 and 2018 because of a potential safety concern. If you think your washing machine might be affected, you can check by calling 0800 316 1442 or by visiting https://washingmachinerecall.whirlpool.co.uk.”
However the online model checking tool it created was not working in the early afternoon, triggering a deluge of complaints from consumers on social media.
The recall comes in the wake of criticism of Whirlpool for selling more than 5m fire-prone dryers that the company failed to recall for four years until forced to do so by the government’s regulator.
“When the heating element in the washing machine is activated, in very rare cases a component in the door lock system can overheat, which, depending on product features, can pose a risk of fire,” a Whirlpool spokesperson told the BBC.
Graham Russell, chief executive of the government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), said: “Whirlpool is recalling models of washing machines due to consumer safety concerns. They have advised consumers with affected models to unplug their machine until it is replaced. The Office for Product Safety and Standards will closely monitor Whirlpool to ensure the recall is carried out successfully.”
Sue Davies, chief policy adviser at the consumer group Which?, said: “This safety alert will cause huge disruption for millions of people who will have no washing machine over Christmas, and following the tumble dryer scandal, leaves Whirlpool’s reputation as a company that can be trusted on product safety in tatters.
“People will rightly be asking what Whirlpool knew about these fire-risk machines and when, so there must now be a thorough investigation into this public safety issue. We know the company has a track record for appearing to put corporate reputation ahead of public safety in its disgraceful handling of the unsafe tumble dryer crisis.
“Customers will be hugely frustrated that this recall is not set to start for weeks and that they are not being offered refunds for machines from a brand they may no longer want to have in their homes.
“This ongoing saga with Whirlpool demonstrates once again that our product safety system is not fit for purpose and that the OPSS should be replaced with a new independent product safety regulator with real powers to finally hold companies to account over dangerous products.”