Reporter: Helen Wellings

There are 25,000 dangerous dishwashers -- potential fire bombs -- in Australia homes, offices, schools, childcare centres, rental properties.

The faulty machines have already set 181 kitchens ablaze around the nation, leaving trails of destruction -- smoldering, melting benches, charred walls, floors, ruined utensils and appliances. Family's property, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, up in smoke.

Cameron Cremona's whole kitchen and living areas had to be replaced under his home insurance after his Electrolux dishwasher caught fire while he was at work.

There are three culprits -- certain models of Electrolux, Electrolux Dishlex and Westinghouse dishwashers purchased since April 2007. The affected dishwasher models are: Electrolux -- models EX401ISB and ESL6163; Electrolux Dishlex --- models DX303SK and DX303WK; Westinghouse -- models SB908WK, SB908SK, SB916WK, SB916SK, SB926WK, and SB926SK. The serial numbers range between 70700000 & 72400000.

"We know they're in the market place. We don't know where they are, so we're trying to get in touch with people so we can go and attend to them", said John Brown of Electrolux.

He says 25,000 dishwashers installed in Australian kitchens, were first voluntarily recalled by the company seven months ago. Then another recall went out in February, trying to alert owners not to use them, but there are still 5,000 out there, 5000 unaware owners using these fire hazards.

"The fault with a wire connector inside the appliance causes plastic components to melt in the control-panel", Mr. Brown said.

NSW Minister For Fair Trading, Linda Burney has put a permanent ban on the dishwashers, and now Electrolux has pledged not to sell any more of the dangerous models. "The reason this ban is in place and I expect it will move to other states, is because some of the repaired or checked dishwashers have continued to melt and catch on fire", Ms. Burney said.

And that's a big worry for owners. There are two cases we know of where Electrolux machines have been checked and later catch fire. To her horror, young mum, Cherrie Reed discovered this. "Technician came out in April of this year, they stuck a green sticker on the door saying everything was fine with the dishwasher", she said.

Three months later -- disaster. Cherrie noticed sparks, then thick smoke and fire coming from her supposedly safe dishwasher.

And if your damage isn't covered by insurance? "We're not ducking and weaving the issue if the dishwasher's caused damage, there is some liability on our part, but we deal with them on a case by case basis", Mr. Brown Said.

Look for the model number and serial numbers on the side of the door. If you have one of those dishwashers, call Electrolux on its hotline immediately,

1800 001 218.

Linda Burney warns, "First stop using it. Do not use it anymore. Ring up Electrolux and get a technician to come out and check the dishwasher."