CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif., Sep 12, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Gree Electric Appliances, Inc. of Zhuhai, China, today announced a voluntary recall of certain types of dehumidifiers sold in the U.S. and Canada under the SoleusAir, Kenmore, Frigidaire and several other brands after receiving consumer complaints that some units had overheated, started smoking or caught fire.
The company said the dehumidifier recall notice was issued in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada.
Gree said all but a few of the 165 complaints so far were received in the latter half of 2012 and the first half of 2013, with the total representing less than 1/100th of 1 percent of the 2.2 million units that have been sold. The company said 46 of the reports have involved a fire with consumers reporting property damage totaling $2.15 million. No injuries have been reported.
Consumers should stop using recalled products, unplug them and call Stericycle ExpertRECALL toll-free at 866-853-2802 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET Saturday, the company said. Alternatively, consumers can visit www.greedehumidifierrecall.com.
Consumers will receive full refunds, the company said.
Gree, and its U.S.-based distributors, Gree USA and SoleusAir, jointly notified the CPSC of consumer complaints early this year, and Gree retained an independent engineering research firm to determine the root cause of the incidents, the company said.
Gree and its distributors have jointly kept the CPSC informed of incidents as they learn of them and of the findings of the ongoing investigation into the root cause of the incidents, the company said.
In cooperation with the CPSC, Gree, Gree USA and SoleusAir jointly issued a Stop Sale Notice to retailers on June 14, 2013. Merchants were instructed to return the units for further evaluation and tests.
When Gree first learned of the consumer complaints from its U.S. distributors in the latter half of 2012, the company launched an internal investigation into the root causes of the complaints. Initially, Gree engineers were unable to induce the problems reported by consumers.
Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, Gree redesigned its dehumidifiers, adding metal shielding to the compressor overload protector beginning in November 2012. The redesigned units are not subject to the recall.
The number of complaints related to overheating has always remained less than 1/100th of 1 percent of the units sold and involve only units manufactured before the November 2012 redesign, the company said. As the number of reported incidents gradually increased in early 2013, Gree retained the third-party engineering consultant and notified the CPSC of the consumer reports in early 2013, the company said.
The independent consultant also had difficulty inducing the reported problems even after multiple attempts.
Gree said after months of investigation its engineers and consultants have now tentatively traced the overheating problem to low levels of refrigerant. In rare instances, the engineers suspect sparks from a compressor overload protector located inside a plastic cover might lead to a fire, the company said.
Gree recently retained a quality control and compliance expert who was formerly Associate Director of Compliance at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to help revise and improve its quality control and compliance procedures, the company said.
Richard Stern is employed by the independent engineering research firm that had been retained by Gree to investigate the overheating problem. During his tenure with the CPSC, Mr. Stern worked on more than 500 product safety investigations.
In cooperation with the CPSC and Health Canada, Gree decided to announce the voluntary recall today, while the investigation into the root causes and separate investigations into each of the reports of fires are continuing, the company said.
The Gree recall involves certain 20, 25, 30, 40, 45, 50, 65 and 70-pint dehumidifiers with brand names Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premier, Seabreeze, SoleusAir, and SuperClima, manufactured between 2005 and 2012. Some Gree dehumidifiers are not subject to the recall because they are of a different design and are safe to use.
SOURCE: Gree Electric Appliances, Inc.