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JamesI
JamesI, Handyman
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 1587
Experience:  I have repaired and maintained numerous items over the years, from fridges to freezers, radios to TV's.
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We have a Zanussi fridge freezer ZRB224NWO. In view of the

Resolved Question:

We have a Zanussi fridge freezer ZRB224NWO. In view of the article in today`s Daily Mail regarding rear panels made of plastic rather than metal being liable to catch fire, is our appliance safe?
Submitted: 28 days ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  JamesI replied 28 days ago.

Hi Colin,

I havent see the article you refer to, but will see if I can track it down online, that said Daily Mail are not normally associated with applying science and reasoning in their articles.

Give me a while to read up on their claim and I will come back, but confident it is unlikely to relate to Zanussi.

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Hi James
I am still awaiting your reply. Look forward to having your response.
Expert:  JamesI replied 27 days ago.

Hi Colin, I do apologise it appears my message didnt get added, let me try and find out what happened and get it resubmit.

Expert:  JamesI replied 27 days ago.

Without repeating what you already know from the article the following points I would raise when considering the article.

No specific models or brands are referenced (just those which have previously been tested by Which?), but cites tests performed by Which? who do not have any a safety or electrical testing accreditation as far as I can understand have showed only those with a metal back prevent an electrical fire spreading.

That said the Fire Service have advised they are concerned with the introduction of plastic to the rear of appliances, but again havent advised any reason why they are concerned, other than they consider all Fridges and Freezers high risk since they are on 24/7 and unsupervised.

Currently the use of plastic in the construction is still within EU and UK safety guidelines, the manufacturers are aware of this article however chosen not to recall affected models or retrofit metal covers to the rear panels, so I do not believe there is any serious concern.

Looking at Zanussi there are no fridges marked as high risk or in need or recall, this list is updated regularly and can be found here.

My personal view on the situation is increased metal parts could lead to increased risk of electric shock in situations of other electrical faults, though can see potential for fire not to be retained in the appliance as well as metal panel, however the compressor and other electrics are not covered as can be seen by looking at the bottom 12 inches of the fridge so that is open to all elements, so I think this is alarmist, and detracts from proactive maintenance, such as cleaning the fridge and rear panels regularly, checking electrical cables, and fuses are fit for purpose, and ensuring there is adequate fire detection in all areas of the home.

Should you wish to discuss your concerns further the electrical fire charity can be reached at *****@******.*** they have access to a far greater source of information and can give you their impartial view too.

Regards

James

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Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Hi James
Thanks for your response. If I understand you correctly what you seem to be saying is that the introduction of metal rear panels may actually cause other problems eg electric shocks but will not necessarily stop the fire risk. I believe that the point at issue is that fires in fridges with plastic backs can go up in flames in just a few minutes but those with a metal back will still do the same but it will take several minutes longer presumably giving the inhabitants to the house longer to react. I quite take your point that the issue of plastic or metal backs may be something of a red herring and that more attention should be given to basic fire protection through the proactive maintenance you refer to.