Regulators warn consumers about 'exploding' Samsung washers

Samsung is again in crisis management mode — this time over its top-loading washing machines.

Consumer Reports on Wednesday suspended its recommended status for any Samsung top-loader that earned that designation in the watchdog organization's washing-machine tests.

The decision came hours after the South Korean consumer electronics company revealed it was in "active discussions" with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about how to handle problems with some top-loading washing machines that could pose a safety risk. According to some complaints, the vibrations were so heavy they left the owner's machine in pieces.

Samsung's washing machine woes follow an expansive recall tied to overheating and exploding batteries in some of the company's popular Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.

In a statement, the electronics giant said the issue affects washing machines made between March 2011 and April of this year.

In rare cases, some of the affected machines could experience "abnormal vibrations" when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant items. The problems could result in "personal injury or property damage," although Samsung did not confirm exactly how that would happen.

"It is important to note that Samsung customers have completed hundreds of millions of loads without incident since 2011," Samsung said in a statement.

The company recommends consumers with affected machines wash these items using a "lower speed delicate cycle."

Consumer Reports officials said neither the CPSC nor Samsung could provide model numbers of affected units.

"When we checked the serial numbers of the specific models we tested on Samsung’s website, six of the 10 turned out to be affected machines. But we have no way to know yet whether that indicates an issue with all production runs of any particular model," said the non-profit.

A review of the complaints filed by the CPSC found consumers describing the machines' failures as loud and destructive. One consumer reported a few minutes after adding “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.”

Users can check if their washers are affected by checking the machine's serial number on Samsung's website. Samsung says the company and CPSC are "working on a remedy for affected consumers that will help ensure there are no further incidents."

Samsung is still reeling from a recall involving its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, following reports of the smartphone catching fire or even exploding. Samsung says since the recall was made official, half of those devices in the U.S. were returned.


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