U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 1999
Release # 99-061
Rheem Manufacturing Announce Recall to Repair Electric Furnaces and Air Handlers
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Rheem Manufacturing Co., of Fort Smith, Ark.,
is recalling about 135,000 electric furnaces and air handlers for repair. The
heating elements in the electric furnaces and air handlers can disintegrate,
and expel small particles of molten metal through the duct system and into the
living area of the residence. The molten metal particles can ignite nearby combustibles,
presenting a fire hazard to consumers.
Rheem has received 16 reports of fires resulting in minor
to serious property damage, including one report of a total house fire. No injuries
have been reported.
Only certain down flow and horizontal installations are involved
in this recall. Specifically, only Rheem RBEA, UBEA, WBEA, and WBEMA model electric
furnaces and Rheem RBHA, UBHA, WBHA, and WBHMA model electric air handlers with
date codes between 3592 and 4595 are part of this recall. The model and date
code are on an identification plate affixed to the front of the unit. The date
code is the four digits following the letter "M" in the unit's serial
number. The first two digits of the date code specifies the week and the last
two digits specifies the year. The recalled units have cabinets, which are constructed
of sheet steel painted beige or platinum, that house a circulating air blower,
electric heating elements, mechanical controls, and an air filter. The physical
dimensions of the units are 35 inches in length, 22 inches in depth and in varying
widths of 14, 17.5, 21 or 24.5 inches, depending on model size.
Rheem sold the furnaces and air handlers nationwide from
August 1992 through December 1995 to distributors who, in turn, sold them to
heating, ventilating, and air conditioning dealers. The furnaces and air handlers
reportedly were sold to consumers for about $600 to $950.
Consumers with recalled furnaces and air handlers should
call Rheem's toll-free number (877) 749-6035, available 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week. Rheem will provide information on how to arrange to have a qualified
service technician repair the unit by installing a new blower assembly, which
contains a heating element with improved reliability. Rheem will pay for the
new part, as well as provide a labor allowance for its installation.
The U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or
death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for information
on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's
teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand,
call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release
number. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information or report product
hazards to firstname.lastname@example.org.