On the heels of a massive phone recall, Samsung has announced that certain top-load washing machines may also have a dangerous defect.
As first reported by ABC News, multiple plaintiffs are suing Samsung for damages and injuries caused by washing machines that “explode” during a cycle. Jason Lichtman, who filed the case in federal court in New Jersey, says the failure is due to an inadequate support rod that causes the washer’s drum to come loose during the spin cycle.
Reviewed.com spoke with a Samsung representative, who referred us to the company’s official statement on the washing machines. It says that Samsung is in “active discussions” with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to address “potential safety issues related to certain top-load washing machines manufactured between March 2011 and April 2016.”
According to Samsung, “In rare cases, affected units may experience abnormal vibrations that could pose a risk of personal injury or property damage when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant items.”
So far, ABC News reports that 21 consumers have complained to the CPSC about “exploding” washers. While that’s a small fraction of the number of Samsung top-load washers sold in the US, the seriousness of the issue has gained significant media attention.
Reviewed.com read through the CPSC reports and found that consumers describe the failures as both loud and destructive. One 53-year-old female reported that, a few minutes after she “put a small load” in the machine, “the whole house shook.”
“There were pieces of the washing machine all over the floor,” the user reported. “The machine jumped forward about 2 feet and turned 90 degrees. It slammed into the dryer, leaving a huge dent in the side of it. The force was so powerful, it ripped the electrical outlet from it's screws and bent it to the side.” Another user also reported washing a small load—“a single set of sheets.”
While the issue gained more attention due to the recent legal action, reports of the problem first surfaced as early as 2014, when a Missouri television station got a refund for a couple whose Samsung machine shattered.
Washing machines can spin as fast as 1,300 RPM—the same as a car engine at idle. That means any failure can be catastrophic. Unbalanced loads can put significant stress on the machine’s parts.
Indeed, Samsung is not the only manufacturer whose washers have been taken to task for this issue. LG and Kenmore recalled washing machines back in 2012 due to a similar risk of uncontained failure, and consumers in the UK have reported the doors of certain front-load washers have shattered during spin cycles.
Samsung recommends that owners of top-load washing machines sold within the past five years check the company website or call 844-483-3881 to determine whether their units are affected, and “use the lower speed delicate cycle when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant materials.” Front-loading washers are not affected.
The representative could not share with us how many units are included in the campaign, whether a recall is planned, or when or how Samsung plans to repair affected units.