CPSC, Cadet Recall In-Wall Heaters; Settle Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Originally issued February 17, 2000, Last revised October 14, 2004
Release #00-070
Company Phone Number: (800) 567-2613
CPSC Consumer Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Note: model type addition, link change

CPSC, Cadet Recall In-Wall Heaters; Settle Lawsuit

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Cadet Manufacturing Co., of Vancouver, Wash., announced today the recall of more than 1.9 million Cadet and Encore brand in-wall electric heaters, distributed mainly in California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. This recall announcement follows the resolution of the lawsuit filed by CPSC staff against the company on January 14, 1999.

CPSC alleges that the following Cadet and Encore brand in-wall electric heaters are defective and can overheat and catch fire: models FW, FX, LX, TK, ZA, Z, RA, RK, RLX, RX, RW and ZC. Flames, sparks or molten particles can spew through the front grill cover of the heater into the living area of a residence, putting consumers at risk from fires, including burn injuries, smoke inhalation and property damage. The heaters also can become energized creating a risk of electric shock.

CPSC is aware of more than 320 reports of heaters that smoked, sparked, caught fire, emitted flames, or ejected burning particles or molten materials. These incidents have allegedly resulted in three deaths, two serious burn injuries and property damage claims exceeding $1.2 million, which include five partial or total house fires.

The heaters that are part of today's recall announcement are the following models of Cadet and Encore brands: FW, FX, LX, TK, ZA, Z, RA, RK, RLX, RX, RW and ZC. The brand and model are located on a label on the front of the heat box, behind the grill. Before removing the grill to check the identification label, consumers must disconnect the power supply to the heater at the circuit breaker. If power is not disconnected, consumers risk electrocution and shock.

Cadet is offering consumers replacement heaters at a significantly reduced cost. Each heater will cost between $25 and $57, depending on the model. Consumers who already have replaced the recalled units from October 23, 1997, until today can file a claim for partial reimbursement for $25 per heater. Consumers must register to participate in this recall by February 17, 2002. To register, contact Cadet anytime at (800) 567-2613 or at http://www.cadetco.com/upgrade_program.php#recall.

CPSC routinely requires companies to pay the full costs associated with recalls. In this case, Cadet has recently emerged from bankruptcy and is unable to provide free replacements or full reimbursements.

In October 1997, Cadet recalled its model FW, FX, LX and ZA heaters to replace defective over-temperature black plastic limit switches. By December 1997, Cadet informed CPSC that it could no longer pay the full costs of the recall, and that the number of heaters involved were far greater than it had originally known. While attempting to resolve the problems with the limit switch recall, the CPSC staff discovered additional problems with the heaters involved in the 1997 recall, as well as problems with some other Cadet and Encore models. In addition to the switch defect, the heating elements and internal wiring connections are defective and can fail. Even if consumers have had the heaters' switches repaired, the heaters have additional problems and need to be replaced.

CPSC strongly urges consumers to participate in this recall. Since the recalled heaters pose a fire hazard until they are replaced, consumers should have at least one fully operational smoke detector on every floor of their home, especially near bedrooms. To ensure that the detector's batteries are working, test the detector every month. Consumers also should have a well-defined and rehearsed escape plan and an alternate escape plan in the event of a fire.