Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Governments recall dehumidifiers

TOTAL RECALL The risk of faulty machines starting fires has prompted a massive recall of the ubiquitous appliance. Leading overseas brands are also on the list

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

In what could turn out to be the most extensive product recall in the nation's history, the central and Taipei City governments yesterday demanded that appliance makers Sanyo, Tatung, Gibson, Teco, Kolin and Frigidaire recall approximately 72,000 dehumidifiers manufactured between January 2003 and July 2005.

Taipei City Government consumer commission spokesman Huang Yu-sheng (黃鈺生) dropped the recall bomb in a press conference yesterday following a Jan. 15 warning by the commission that Whirlpool's "ADS 051m" dehumidifer model had caused five fires last year, allegedly because of its shoddy construction.

Citing safety concerns, the commission initiated a recall of that model, but yesterday's announcement suggests that 72,000 more dehumidifers manufactured by other brand-name appliance manufacturers pose safety hazards.

"Although [our current] findings indicate that only four dehumidifiers in every 10,000 are faulty, the flaws are all related to low-quality electronic relay technology, posing the risk of fire," a press release from the Taipei City Government's Law and Regulation Commission stated.

"In order to address grave risks posed to consumers and their property by dehumidifiers that are prone to overheating and melting, another warning is warranted," the release said.

Speaking to reporters while displaying a blackened, melted dehumidifier yesterday, Huang said his commission had uncovered the potential flaws in the brand-name appliances with the help of investigators from the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Representatives from the National Fire Agency and consumer commissions in Taipei and Hsinchu counties were also on hand to warn consumers not to use their dehumidifiers if they were made between January 2003 and July 2005 by the six cited manufacturers.

Huang called on the manufacturers to begin recalling their dehumidifiers for inspection and possible repair immediately, while spokespeople from all six companies agreed to the recall and apologized to the public.

The release yesterday warned consumers not to leave dehumidifiers on when they are not at home and not to use such devices continuously for more than 24 hours. Dehumidifiers that have been operating continuously for long periods should be shut off for at least half an hour before being used again, it added.

Other precautions such as placing dehumidifiers in open spaces with good circulation and away from flammable materials are also necessary in preventing fires, officials said.

The press release stated that the Jan. 15 recall of Whirlpool dehumidifiers had resulted in 2,253 units being recalled so far and was ongoing.

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