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Defective Dehumidifiers Linked with Household Fires

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If you have a dehumidifier in your home, you may want to check it over carefully. A number of these appliances have been blamed in recent years for household fires. In March 2017, for example, fire department officials in Green Bay, Wisconsin, blamed a dehumidifier for a house fire that caused one person to be hospitalized with serious injuries.

Back in November 2016, Chinese manufacturer Gree Electric Appliances announced a recall for 2.5 million dehumidifiers because they could overheat and catch on fire. The company had received reports of over 450 fires connected with the appliances, and more have been reported since the recall.

U.S. insurance companies have filed a lawsuit against Gree for allegedly hiding defects in their appliances that increased risk of home fires.

Defective Dehumidifiers May Overheat

Dehumidifiers and other small household appliances are typically manufactured with plastic housings that can become fuel when heat-generating components fail or malfunction. Because the machines are typically left to run without supervision, any problems are often undetected until something more disastrous happens.

Dehumidifiers are designed to remove moisture from the environment, which helps prevent the development of mold and mildew. People who live in humid climates often use them to cut down on microorganisms in their homes. The devices use a cold coil to condense moisture in the air, and a hot coil to warm that air again before it’s released back into the room.

Millions of dehumidifiers have been recalled because of manufacturing or design defects that caused the devices to overheat and ignite the plastic housing.

Millions of Dehumidifiers Recalled Because of Fire Hazards

The Gree dehumidifier recall was originally announced back in September 2013. The appliances were sold under various brand names, including Danby, Frigidaire, GE, Kenmore, Premiere, Seabreeze, and more. The company advised consumers to stop using the dehumidifiers immediately and contact Gree for a full refund.

Gree re-announced the recall in November 2016 after receiving more reports of household fires related to the devices overheating. They then released the updated announcement to help alert more people to the problem. Property damage associated with the dehumidifiers has totaled at least $19 million so far.

In December 2016, another dehumidifier was reported to be the cause of a home fire that resulted in significant damage to a family’s home in central Indiana. Firefighters confirmed that the device was one of those affected by a recall, but it was not the Gree recall.

This humidifier was part of another November 2016 recall that affected 3.4 million dehumidifiers made by GD Midea. The company recalled the units because of overheating and fire dangers, and at the time of the recall, had linked them to $4.8 million in property damage. These appliances were also sold under a number of brand names, including Airworks, Arctic King, Coolworks, ComfortAire, Danby, Dayton, Forest Air, GE, Honeywell, and many more.

Experts Recommend Regular Maintenance

Experts recommend that users be sure that there is a minimum clearance of 8-12 inches around a dehumidifier, and to always keep doors and windows closed in rooms where the units are operating, to prevent overloading them. Regular cleaning with a vacuum is also necessary to make sure the air continues to flow through the cabinet unrestricted, and air filters should be replaced as directed.

To check to see if your unit has been recalled, visit saferproducts.gov.