Homeowners are being warned their washing machines could explode after terrified families revealed how the doors blew off their appliances sending shards of glass flying across the air.
Consumer group Which? said hundreds could be at risk from exploding washing machines and tumble dryers after an investigation found 280 appliances were left with shattered doors.
Experts said the problem was being caused by coins, keys, children’s toys and belt buckles hitting the glass door at high speed – weakening it over time – as well as the main drum being over-filled.
Consumer group Which? said hundreds of families could be at risk from exploding washing machines after an investigation found 280 appliances were left with shattered doors. Pictured: The drum of a Hotpoint washing machine belonging to Liz Reynolds which exploded at her family home in Harlow, Essex, last year
Businesswoman Liz Reynolds, 35, said the blast involving her year-old machine was ‘potentially deadly’
Newer models with higher spin cycles and bigger doors are also more prone to smashing, as well as cheaper models made from poorer quality materials.
The warning comes after Which? found 115 of the 280 machines which exploded were Beko appliances. Hotpoint also accounted for 10 per cent of the number of machines found shattered.
Grandmother Jennie James, 65, from Milton Keynes, was among those who reported her appliance exploding and said its door suddenly smashed – sending shards of broken glass flying across the floor – after making a loud whirring noise.
She told the Daily Mirror: ‘Just before my hand reached the switch to turn off the machine, there was a loud bang, and I screamed.
‘My three-year-old granddaughter was running up and down that part of the kitchen with her dolls’ pram earlier that day.
‘I’m so thankful that I didn’t put the washing on until after the grandchildren had left.’
And last year, Debbie Flint, 34, told how her two-year-old son Jack narrowly escaped being struck by flying glass after playing in front of the family’s washing machine just moments before it exploded.
She told MailOnline: ‘He was very lucky. Kids get fascinated with things like that and sometimes he puts his face near to the washing machine to watch it.
‘There were big chunks of glass. If he was by the machine, they could have hit him in the eyes or the face.’
Debbie Flint, 34, said her two-year-old son Jack had been playing on the kitchen floor in front of the machine moments before it exploded in May last year. Which? said there had been 280 reports of exploding appliances
Miss Flint had her machine for two-and-a-half years without any previous problems before it blew up and the glass shattered. The 29-year-old mother from Telford said: ‘I was really shocked, it scared the life out of me’
Miss Flint, 29, from Telford, Shropshire, who had her machine for two-and-a-half years without any previous problems, added: ‘The washing machine was on spin and it just suddenly blew up.
‘I just heard shattering glass and, when I looked, there was steam coming out of it.
‘I was really shocked, it scared the life out of me and everyone I have spoken to cannot believe it as well.’
Less than a fortnight later businesswoman Liz Reynolds suffered the same experience at her home in Harlow, Essex.
The 35-year-old said the blast involving her year-old machine was ‘potentially deadly’.
‘With no warning, the washing machine door exploded, sending huge chunks and triangle shards flying 15ft across my kitchen,’ she said.
‘It was pretty frightening. Had our son been there, the door is at eye level for him so he would have been in the firing line of all the glass.’
While there have only been 280 cases recorded of ‘exploding’ machines since 2010, experts warn the number could be far higher.
Neil Howieson, secretary of the national trade association for domestic appliance repairers (DASA), said: ‘All modern washing machines monitor how well the drum is balanced as it’s gradually ramping up to the higher spin speeds.
‘If this system fails, or isn’t quite precise enough, the drum can be very unbalanced as it’s building up speed.
‘In this case, heavy, wet clothing in the drum could potentially be hitting the inside of the door with an abnormally large impact, which can cause the door glass to shatter.’
Victim: Mishell Moloney (left), 49, was found dead at her charred home in Frankley, Birmingham, earlier this year, after she was killed in a house fire believed to have been sparked by a tumble dryer (file picture, right)
Beko insisted that it is meeting current European standards for breakages and described the issue as ‘extremely rare’.
A spokesman added: ‘Out of more than three million washing machines sold by Beko since 2010, there have been 115 reported incidents, less than 0.003 per cent.’
It comes just months after tumble dryers were found to be Britain’s second-biggest cause of house fires, with almost one bursting into flames every day.
Fire brigades across the country were called to 926 tumble dryer fires between 2011 and 2013, amounting to 309 each year – but millions of faulty models have still not been recalled.
Which? said many of the appliances were known to have a fault but owners were not warned. There are concerns that manufacturers are not recalling or repairing products they know have problems.
Even if they do issue a recall, there is no system in place for them to know who has bought the products and where they live.
Executive director Richard Lloyd said at the time: ‘It’s shocking that everyday household appliances can pose such a danger.’
Earlier this year stay-at-home mother Mishell Moloney, 49, was killed in a fire at her home in Frankley, Birmingham, which is believed to have been sparked by her tumble dryer.
She was found unconscious at the property by her sister and daughter who broke into her home after becoming concerned that they could not get hold of her.
While the exact cause of the blaze has not yet been confirmed, fire investigation officers returned to the housing association property to retrieve the tumble dryer appliance for further analysis.