- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn
Whirlpool is recalling unmodified tumble dryers from homes across the UK, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has said.
Some 500,000 people who own and run Whirlpool-made tumble dryers have been told to stop using them immediately because of a heightened fire risk.
The unprecedented Government-ordered product recall comes after huge pressure from consumer champions Which? - and the campaign group has established that Whirlpool-made machines have been linked to at least 750 fires over 11 years.
In July, Whirlpool executives told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that the true number of faulty tumble-dryers could actually be 800,000.
So what does this actually mean to hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country?
- Which brands are affected?
Which? has identified some 127 Whirlpool-manufactured tumble dryers - but it's not a comprehensive list.
A spokeswoman confirmed to ITV News that Whirpool has not yet provided a full, complete breakdown of the brands, makes and models it believes could present a fire risk.
The brands include:
There are scores of different model numbers that have been identified - check out the list on the Which? website here.
The models and makes were all manufactured between April 2004 and November 2015.
- What should consumers do now?
If your machine hasn't yet been fixed by Whirpool, the first thing to do is to stop using it; unplug it and leave it unplugged.
You should make a note of the model make and model number - for example, it will have a sticker on it saying "Indesit IDCA7H35BTM" or "Hotpoint TVYL655CG" - and contact Whirlpool.
You can call Whirlpool on 0800 151 0905 to find out whether your dryer needs a repair and arrange for it to be fixed or replaced.
If your tumble dryer has a green dot sticker on the inside of the door towards the top, or on the back panel of the machine in the middle and towards the top, then it's not part of the recall or has been repaired already - but that doesn't mean it's fire-risk free...
- My machine has a green sticker, but does that mean it's safe to use?
Which? has deep concerns about the repairs carried out by Whirlpool.
While the Government's Office for Product Safety and Standards reported in April it believed the modification to be safe, Which? believes the review to be fundamentally flawed.
In February, Which? reported it had been contacted by more than 30 owners who claimed their ‘fixed’ tumble dryers had caught fire, produced smoke or the smell of burning, including a case where a mother was forced to flee with her two young children as a tumble dryer fire engulfed their garage.
"In some cases this appears to be as a result of fluff catching on the heating element – the very issue the modification was designed to fix," it said.
A spokeswoman for Which? told ITV News: "People continue to report signs of fire in their modified tumble dryers, so that's why we've said the Government 'must urgently explain what it is going to do about the millions of modified machines still in people’s homes, following serious concerns that have been raised by people who have experienced fires, smoke and burning despite the so-called fix'."
If you do have concerns about your machine - fixed or not, green dot sticker or not - contact Whirlpool.
- I've been waiting for so long for a fix, I had to buy another tumble dryer. Can I claim the money back?
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, there is a way for you to try to get the extra expense back.
Which? guidance says you can take your claim to the retailer that sold you the tumble dryer, or your credit card company, if the repair organised by Whirlpool takes an unreasonable amount of time or causes you significant inconvenience.
You should also keep a record of any extra expenses you incur while waiting for a repair or replacement, for example launderette costs, as you can also try to claim these back.
- What does Whirlpool say about the situation?
Whirlpool urged anyone with an unmodified machine to contact them.
A spokeswoman said: "Safety is our number one priority and we remain committed to resolving any affected tumble dryers that have not yet been modified.
"The crucial message to anyone who still owns an affected dryer and has not already had it modified by Whirlpool is to contact us immediately on 0800 151 0905.
"In the meantime, anyone with an affected dryer that has not been modified should unplug it and not use it until the modification has been completed."