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Certain Samsung washers at risk of explosion, even without a Note 7 in the spin cycle

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t consider your washing machine a potential safety hazard, much less a threat to life and limb. Early industrial washers were known for a complete lack of safety features that made using them genuinely hazardous. But modern industrial design fixed this particular issue decades ago — or so we thought. A new report from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung itself says the company is investigating reports washers manufactured between March 2011 and April 2016 were prone to explosion.

Samsung has issued a statement on the matter, requesting that owners of potentially affected machines use them only on the delicate setting when washing anything bulky, water-resistant, or prone to retaining water. The company notes that no issues have been reported when this setting is enabled.

According to ABC News, which broke the story, affected units literally fly apart, sending wires, nuts, and even the entire top of the washing machine careening around the room. Analysis of the debris suggests that a retaining rod meant to support the rotating tub can slip out of place, catastrophically compromising the unit.

I confess to having never searched for “exploding washing machine” in Google before today, but some of the results are a tad eye-opening. While the machine above isn’t a Samsung unit, it’s an example of what can happen when a washer explodes. Other units have even caught fire as a result of this type of failure, though it’s not clear if the Samsung machines specifically do.

The CPSC reports that 21 people have filed reports with Samsung concerning their nifty exploding washer since early last year. The company is already facing a class-action lawsuit over its failure to address the problem. Samsung’s warning includes a utility to check your serial number and confirm whether your specific model is affected. But the company has yet to release a comprehensive list of all the models currently under investigation. An earlier ABC report from 2015 also referred to exploding Samsung washers, and uploaded video at YouTube dating to 2013 shows evidence of a similar flaw.

This seemingly-impending recall comes at a time when Samsung is already under increased scrutiny thanks to the high-profile failure of the Note 7. While the device launched to wide acclaim, battery problems have forced Samsung to recall the device and replace affected units. Like the Note 7’s issues, this appears to be an uncommon failure mode — but also like the Note 7, it’s a failure mode that could cause significant damage or even injure someone. depending on how violently the washer disintegrates and where the parts hit. And if you haven’t exchanged your Note 7 yet, go DO that.

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