Faulty Appliance Fires On The Rise

By: ABC News
By: ABC News

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

A new consumer reports investigation has found appliance fires are on the rise.

Home appliances are responsible for 150,000 fires a year, causing about $500 million dollars in damage.

But while many of those fires are due to human error, defective appliances cause a significant number.

Consumer Reports magazine reviewed 69,000 reports of appliance fires between 2002 and 2009. Investigators found a significant number were not caused by human error.

"We found at least 23 percent are clearly attributable to problems with the appliances -- mechanical, electrical or design flaws. In some instances, the appliances turned on by themselves," said Dan DiClerico, Consumer Reports.

Faulty appliances causing the most fires were ranges, followed by dryers, air conditioners, refrigerators and dishwashers. DiClerico said more than 15 million appliance units have been recalled by the CPSC over the past five years. Almost half of the affected units were dishwashers.

Until appliance design and quality are improved, homeowners are left to wonder if the appliances in their homes are safe, officials said.

"Appliances have gotten a lot more complex, so more can go wrong. And many recalled products are being manufactured abroad, the majority in China," DiClerico said.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers said designing and manufacturing safe products is a top priority for its members.

Homeowners are encouraged to register new appliances to receive recall notices. Safety experts also suggest against running a dishwasher or dryer overnight or while homeowners are away.

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