Normal Fire Department urges dehumidifier safety after recall linked to fires
If you have a dehumidifier in your home and it's close to 10 years old, there's a pretty good chance it's been recalled.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced an expanded recall, adding about 1.6 million more units to the roster of dehumidifiers that should be unplugged and taken out of use.
Matt Swaney, a fire inspector for the Normal Fire Department, said the older units may be a fire hazard, especially during this recent spell of hot and humid weather.
“There’s just more moisture in the air that they are trying to work against,” Swaney said. “Obviously the harder a machine works, the more likely it is to fail and in this particular situation, overheating is the issue.”
Gree Electric Appliances, which is headquartered in China, made the dehumidifiers that have been sold by G.E., Kenmore and other companies, including SoleusAir, Seabreeze and Norpole.
The dehumidifiers are linked to 23 fires and three deaths in the U.S., and nearly 700 reports of overheating. The three deaths were last year — two were in Missouri and one in Iowa.
“They keep getting more and more reports of fires and more and more property damage and now unfortunately fatalities have been included in this one as well,” Swaney said.
Many people don't think to check their dehumidifiers regularly because they are often set up in the basement, said Swaney.
“The bad part is that we know there are likely thousands of them still being used in people’s homes," he said. "People buy a dehumidifier, set it up in the basement, and then forget about it. It’s out of sight and out of mind. We urge everyone to take this threat very seriously," adding owners should check the unit once a week to make sure it’s running properly and check the model number to see if it’s included in the recall.
The recall includes units made between January 2011 and February 2014, according to the CPSC.
Gree Electric Appliances has a link on its website for refund information. The company has recalled 2.5 million dehumidifiers due to the fire risk.