26 Replies Latest reply on May 18, 2018 4:39 AM by e14phil

    Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk

    shabaz

      Posting in IoT for lack of a better section.. and solutions or monitoring of home appliances may use IoT.

       

      I was quite surprised to see this statistic : (

      Faulty appliances 'cause 60 fires a week' - BBC News

      It seems a huge number. Apparently this is mainly due to washing machines and tumble dryers. The following article discusses what causes the fires for tumble dryers, and how to reduce the risk of it:

      https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/five-rules-stop-your-tumble-14112798

       

      I've never had a tumble dryer (I use a clothes line if it isn't raining) so I can't be sure, but reading through that article, it seems the procedure to reduce the risk is really onerous. The article suggests vacuuming around the dryer and fluff can accumulate at the rear of the dryer. I can't imagine many people moving a dryer to vacuum behind it frequently, because of the weight of it, and presumably some are integrated (bolted) into position. This video only discusses how to clean fluff from the front filter, which looks easy enough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQruzikHdQI  but it doesn't address the other areas that may need to be regularly inspected and cleaned.

       

      The article also discusses that tumble dryers should not be operated at night when people are asleep, or when no one is at home. To me, that seems like the lowest-hanging technical workaround until tumble dryers can be made safer; retro-fitting them for free, with a lockout system that will prevent operation unless light and motion (i.e. occupancy with activity) can be sensed - perhaps by Bluetooth. If either light or motion is not sensed for longer than (say) ten minutes then the dryer could be powered down. A fire alarm should also be fitted for free if one is not already fitted. Anything less seems unreasonable, considering tumble dryer manufacturers must know their machines pose such a high risk.

       

      How do other people manage the risk? I would trust myself not to use a tumble dryer in the evening, but what if someone fell asleep on the sofa during the daytime and no-one else was at home. Or teenagers. Can they really be trusted to avoid using a tumble dryer at night, and adhering to the no house-parties rules : ) when parents are traveling?

       

      And on another note.. it will be likely country-specific, but it would be good to hear advice on fitting fire alarms in locations where washing machines and tumble dryers will be fitted - e.g. what type of alarm, what distance is recommended, etc, from those who are experienced in this area. It would be valuable information to a lot of people.

        • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
          mcb1

          it seems the procedure to reduce the risk is really onerous. The article suggests vacuuming around the dryer and fluff can accumulate at the rear of the dryer.

          Many older style dryers don't vent outside, and rely on a simple filter on the front.

           

          I can't imagine many people moving a dryer to vacuum behind it frequently, because of the weight of it

          Actually standalone tumble dryers are very light

           

          It seems to boil down to a simple technical term RTFM.

          Like many dishwashers, you'd be surprised how many never have the fiklter cleaned despite the manual suggesting it requires a clean each day.

           

          Mark

          3 of 3 people found this helpful
            • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
              shabaz

              Ah, I didn't realise they were light.

              The machine in the video appears to have some labels near the opening, but I guess some people won't make the connection that following these are critical to safety either : (

              It's a shame there isn't a way to force removal of the dust filter before the door opens, i.e. forcing people to handle it and see it. That would be a more complex enclosure than the current system, but maybe important if the dust filter is so critical : (

              2 of 2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
              phoenixcomm

              For Sure RTFM.

              BUT folks today don't read them,

              So here's what  I propose in order.

              1. Color Action Comic

              2. Instructional Video on DVD

              3. Same as #1 and #2  but on a flash drive.

              4. None of the above as they wouldn't read anyway, be just a waste of money.

              5. Sensor the damn thing so It shuts down the unit and calls the fire department!

               

              Cris H.

               

              BTW Where on earth did they find that dead-eye tech. He does more harm than good. LOL

              3 of 3 people found this helpful
              • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                e14phil

                I have had personal experiences of friend's houses being burnt down by cheap chinese phone chargers from ebay, because of this I try to buy from reputable brands or brands that have a big following,... and thus a lot to loose from a class action law suit... causing them to invest more in components, materials, QC and design features such as anti tracking slots.

                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                  koudelad

                  shabaz  wrote:

                   

                  And on another note.. it will be likely country-specific, but it would be good to hear advice on fitting fire alarms in locations where washing machines and tumble dryers will be fitted - e.g. what type of alarm, what distance is recommended, etc, from those who are experienced in this area. It would be valuable information to a lot of people.

                  Funny you mention that, because I have read two instruction manuals for fire alarms in the past. They both stated more "where not to install them" instructions than what to do. They don't like humidity, dust, heating elements, peformance depends on the roof shape. This basically rules out all rooms in a common house. Well, they usually work, but I doubt people test them at home the same way as they are tested in public places. (There is a law for that in the Czech Republic.) Maybe it is just a disclaimer so no one can sue the manufacturer in case the alarm doesn't work, who knows.

                   

                  I guess all the current consumer alarms use optical recognition, but I know there used to be some with slightly radioactive material.

                   

                  David

                  2 of 2 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                    14rhb

                    Shabaz,

                     

                    You've started an interesting and worthy discussion here. Our tumble gets the two door filters cleaned of lint every use as they are easily accessible. Occasionally I have pulled the unit out from under the worktop and again hoovered lint out of the 4" output duct. What did surprise me was that a few years ago I did open the case up and found some lint had gathered internally in areas that you wouldn't imagine.....you have reminded me to do that again. Maybe I should try and get some photos to share on here.

                     

                    There is some good advice here from the E14 community and the links about ameliorating the risks. I know someone who actually has their tumble drier outside (under cover).

                     

                    I would think that lint build-up would be the main cause of fires in tumble driers and/or combined with simple component or wiring failure. When that happens we are essentially past the usefulness of thermal cut outs and probably MCBs on the electrical distribution. Therefore highest priority is to reduce that lint build up. Manufacturer's could take a better approach to mechanical design to mitigate against leakage of particles into the heater box. Suitable IP rated internal enclosures could provide additional protection to lint ingress around cables and connectors for high current). I am however amazed at the photos that show them burning so fiercely - I bet you'd find it hard to light one on purpose with a match !

                     

                    As mentioned by shabaz they do also need more sensors.

                     

                    There are two sensors I can think of that should be mandated in the legal specifications for all countries (with an indicator to show this is why the machine isn't working):

                     

                                 (1)     Optical sensor(s) in high risk areas of the machine - namely around the heater and high current wiring to detect lint not smoke.

                     

                    AND      (2)     An optical particulate measurement in the hot airflow - which cuts out should that count of particles get too high.

                     

                     

                    I guess we all want to know why manufacturers haven't done this so far.....and I guess the answer is that we want cheap goods. Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the makes listed in the news article seem to be at the lower end of the price range.

                     

                    I look forward to reading more on this thread and as mentioned I will try and add some photos from my tumble drier.

                     

                    Rod

                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                        shabaz

                        Hi Rod,

                         

                        That's really interesting information. It is worrying that the lint gets right into the machines since not everyone can open them up. It would be awesome to see photos when you do open your machine next time.

                        You're right, Whirlpool seems to be the offender according to that report for certain fires, i.e. their Hotpoint/Indesit/Creda brands which are built down to a cost.

                         

                        It's all a very unfortunate combination - heater, lint, air, and no easy way of monitoring/inspecting, if there are a lack of sensors fitted.

                        Maybe another mode is damp/conductive lint near motor brushes too, igniting and then all other dry dust and lint will just stoke the fire immensely : (

                        1 of 1 people found this helpful
                          • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                            14rhb

                            Hi Shabaz,

                             

                            You also know that there is also a catch-22 for anyone who decides to service their own machine; any fire and the insurance company/manufacturer's could try and claim no responsibility if they can proove it could have be due to a negligent service !

                             

                             

                            So although that is a minor dilema for us techy types, as you have mentioned, many folk cannot get to do their own service for numerous reasons. You are quite right - a robust fail safe solution is needed.

                             

                            [Might need to alias myself when posting those photos inside my tumble  ]

                             

                            Rod

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                        • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                          peteroakes

                          So regarding Clothes Driers

                          Mine is a GAS drier, we have had one for over 25 years with no issues, most folks have an electric one as it is easier to install.

                          Mine uses a small amount of power for logic and the motor but the actual drying is via a rather large "Flame Thrower" in the base of the unit, the flames end a long way from the actual drying chamber and there are several interlocks and thermal trips for protection.

                          The biggest issue is lint buildup in the vent (My Vent is about 30 - 40 feet before exiting the house), but the worst that has happened so far is the drying time gets longer until you clean out the 4" pipes, not a big job and there never too blocked either

                          My Water heater storage tank is also GAS heated, not electric, very efficient and easy to install. and pretty much maintenance free

                           

                          An electric dryer will consume masses amount of power / Amps and I would guess it is probably bad electrical connections heating up and catching fire that causes this problem.

                           

                          Oh and here like most countries these days we have multi rated electricity so people are encouraged to use the power hungry appliances at night when the rates are lowest, My gas supply has no such limits.

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                            • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                              mcb1

                              My Water heater storage tank is also GAS heated

                              Ours is the On demand version ... highly recommended if you have teenagers, or a bach/vacation house.

                              We have 45kg bottles because there is no gas reticulation, but they'll run on a 9kg bottle ...

                               

                              Interestingly our is Rinnai and the gas useage rate goes up if you leave it heating at 55 degsC when you really only need water at 38-40.

                              Even the gas delivery man can tell those that have (and use) the controller and those that don't ... by the amount of times he comes to renew the bottles.

                               

                              Mark

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                            • Re: Home appliances causing 60 fires a week in the UK.. ideas to reduce the risk
                              14rhb

                              Maybe we are looking at this problem from the wrong way. The existing driers are fine - we just need to redesign our clothes fabrics to be fire retardant

                               

                              Rod

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