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Defective dehumidifiers cause $2.15 million in property damage

Our homes are filled with dozens of appliances that make our lives easier, from basic, like refrigerators, stoves, washing machines and dryers to complex, like computers, home theater systems and automatic espresso machines. Virtually all of them operate by electrical power, and many of them, like the refrigerator or central heating and air conditioning, operate 24/7, often with little human supervision.

We just expect them to work. And, of course, if they become a defective product and fail to operate properly, the consequences can range from annoying, as when the toaster or microwave dies, to dangerous and life threatening, when a furnace malfunctions and fills the home with carbon monoxide or an appliance motor overheats and catches fire.

The latter case appears to have happened with a dehumidifiers manufactured by Gree Electric Appliances of China. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the sellers of the dehumidifiers have had 165 incidents involving the dehumidifiers.

The seriousness of the danger posed by this product is highlighted by the 46 fires that resulted from the defect, which caused $2.15 million in property damage. The CPSC has ordered a recall for the dehumidifier, which was sold under 12 different brand names, including, Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima.

Given that dehumidifiers often operate unattended in basements, it is extremely lucky that no one has been injured by these fires, and we suspect that in many cases, the requirement that many communities have that homes have smoke detectors installed has saved many lives.

Consumers should unplug the units immediately and check the CPSC website for details and the full list of recalled units.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), "Gree Recalls 12 Brands of Dehumidifiers Due to Serious Fire and Burn Hazards; More Than $2 Million in Property Damage Reported," September 12, 2013

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