Is your tumble dryer a fire risk?

Published September 24, 2020

Read time 2 mins

Electrical appliances account for approximately 12% of UK house fires and tumble dryers are frequently to blame.

In 2019, a recall notice was issued over concerns that an estimated 500,000 Whirlpool tumble dryers posed a potential fire risk. Prior to this, millions of Whirlpool machines sold under it’s Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands were identified as dangerous and required a fix to make them safe to operate – many of these machines are still in use.

According to Government numbers, faulty Whirlpool machines led to at least 750 fires over 11 years.

How do tumble dryers catch fire?

Tumble dryer fires are most commonly caused by large build-ups of fluff, which ignite when exposed heating elements within the machines. This video issued by BBC shows exactly how tumble dryer fires start, and the fixes that are required to prevent this from happening in the future. 

In an effort to prevent fires from occurring, Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service suggests that homeowners should look for warning signs which include a smell of burning, textiles taking longer to dry, and dried items feeling hotter at the end of the cycle. You should also check if the external vent flap stays shut when the dryer is on.

How to prevent a tumble dryer fire

Here is some additional advice to minimise the risk of a tumble dryer fire occurring in your home:

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s advice
  • Never leave the appliance unattended or running overnight
  • Never put rags or materials into the tumble dryer if they have been used to soak up flammable liquids
  • Keep the dryer well ventilated, ensuring the vent pipe is kink-free, not blocked and not crushed in any way
  • Never cover the vent or any other opening, and only use recommended vent pipes and not improvised ones
  • Clean the filter after every use
  • Only vent the warm air to the outside of the building
  • Have the dryer serviced regularly by a qualified engineer
  • Always have working smoke alarms and test them regularly

Anyone who has purchased a Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan or Proline branded tumble dryer should check 

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