CPSC Reminds Consumers that Deadline Nears for Cadet Heater Claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding Cadet heater owners that they must file a claim by February 17, 2002, to participate in the recall program. CPSC and Cadet Manufacturing announced the recall of 1.9 million Cadet and Encore brand in-wall heaters in February 2000, expanding the original recall of 190,000 heaters announced in October 1997.

According to the CPSC, these heaters, which were distributed mainly in California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, can overheat and catch fire. 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 and pose the risk of an electric shock.

Previously, the CPSC became aware of more than 320 reports of heaters that smoked, sparked, caught fire, emitted flames, or ejected burning particles or molten materials. These incidents allegedly resulted in three deaths, two serious burn injuries, and property damage claims exceeding $1.2 million.

The following models of Cadet and Encore brands are involved in the recall: FW, FX, LX, TK, ZA, Z, RA, RK, RLX, RX 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. Also, consumers that replaced their recalled units from October 23, 1997, through February 17, 2000, 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 at (800) 567-2613 anytime or visit the firm’s web site at www.cadetco.com.

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 was far greater than originally was anticipated. 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 February 17, 2000, recall announcement stated the heating elements and internal wiring connections on these heaters are defective and can fail. Even if consumers have had the heaters’ switches repaired, the heaters have additional problems and need to be replaced.

The 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. These recommendations and more are covered in “Your Home Fire Safety Checklist” (a .pdf version is also available). You can also have a free copy mailed to you by writing to CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20207.

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