Indesit washing machines "explode" in several homes

On Watchdog we get to hear about lots of freak incidents involving household goods. When we received a complaint from an Indesit washing machine owner about an explosion we assumed it was a one off freak incident – but when the number of complaints started rising we knew there had to be a problem.

Published 31 October 2012:

Last June Ellie Wharton from Suffolk was at home playing with her two children in the lounge, when she heard an almighty bang from her kitchen. Her Indesit washing machine WIXL143 had exploded.

When she went to investigate she found that the top of the machine had been raised, the front dials had been pushed out of the machine, the door had been blown open, and the impact of the force had lifted the top of the kitchen cabinet and moved her oven. Inside, the drum had come loose and was left buckled and twisted.

Thankfully neither her, nor her two children were in the kitchen at the time, but they were all shocked.

Rachel Davies also had the same problem with her washing machine, the same model as Ellie’s.

Her family’s machine was in their utility room on spin cycle when they heard a loud bang. They saw that the top of the machine had been pushed upwards, and the dials and drawer on the machine had shattered and blown by force across the room and onto the floor. Rachel told us,

“…that’s a huge hazard if you’ve got young children because they’re the height of that washing machine and the front where the dials are and obviously that is something that could cause a serious injury.”

The problem isn’t confined to the WIXL143 model.

Tim Cumming had the same experience with the more expensive Indesit model W1X E167. After hearing a loud crash, he walked into his kitchen to find that it was covered in pieces of what he describes as ‘shrapnel’.

During the spin cycle it appeared that the drum had split open and moved the concrete balancing block inside the machine up. Tim said,

“…it tried to fire this concrete block out of the top of the machine. Had there been no worktop or anything above it, potentially, this concrete block could've gone up into the base of the gas boiler resulting in quite a bigger bang.”

So what is happening to these washing machines?

Graham Watkinson electrical engineer explains, “I believe what happens is the seam actually splits open then what will happen is the actual drum itself will open just like a can, when it splits, it then hits the outer drum and breaks through the outer drum.”

Indesit has agreed with this analysis, apologised to all of our contributors and paid for replacement machines and damage to their kitchens.

But why are Indesit not recalling these washing machine models?

Company Response

 

A spokesperson from Indesit says,

(In reference to Indesit washing machine models WIXL143 AND WIXE167)

We are very sorry that some of our consumers have experienced problems with the models that BBC Watchdog have featured.

We are aware of a technical issue that could affect a very small quantity of these Indesit washing machine models, which were manufactured between May 2007 and June 2009. Under certain operating conditions the drum seam has fractured, causing damage to the machine.

Whilst only a small percentage of machines are affected, we take consumer concerns very seriously. A risk assessment has been carried out under the General Product Safety Regulations. The assessment shows a low risk on these models, concluding a withdrawal is not necessary.

The particular cases highlighted on the programme, as well as the cases that have been brought to our attention, have been dealt with promptly and on a case by case basis.

We would also like to inform consumers that this problem does not affect any Indesit model on sale today.

Consumer Satisfaction is extremely important to us. Indesit Company apologises to our consumers for any inconvenience caused, and we reaffirm our commitment to delivering quality, reliable products.

What consumers can do next:

If you own an Indesit washing machine WIXL143 or WIXE167 and have any concerns, please contact the Indesit Customer Service Centre on email:support@indesit.com or Tel: 01733 287 843

Please have your serial number to hand when you call – it can be found on the front of the machine inside the door area.