Even though it feels like winter, firefighters in Northeast Wisconsin are still seeing fires caused by recalled dehumidifiers.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission began recalling 2.5 million dehumidifiers more than a year ago. Made by Gree, they were sold under a dozen different brand names, including Frigidaire, Kenmore and Norpole.
We have an update from firefighters who say they’re concerned because they’re still finding them in use.
Mangled metal and singed wires sitting in black soot.
That’s what’s left of a dehumidifier used in a Green Bay home just a few weeks ago.
Green Bay Metro Firefighters say the recalled appliance started a fire Thanksgiving weekend, causing $18,000 dollars in damages.
“We’re still doing home inspections when we go on calls, when people call us for assistance for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. On a regular basis, I’m still finding recalled dehumidifiers in homes,” says Green Bay Metro Fire Lt. Nick Craig.
Nationally, the CPSC reports recalled dehumidifiers are responsible for more than 120 fires and nearly $4.5 million dollars in damages.
The problem: they overheat and start a fire, with little to no warning.
And even though it’s December, Craig says some people are still running them, and firefighters continue finding people who think it’s okay to use the recalled ones.
“A thought of ours was that people would think it wasn’t a big deal, potentially cut the cord off, send it into the company, get their refund check and then just put a new plug end on the dehumidifier and use it. And the other day, I did find one in a home where an individual did that exact thing,” says Craig.
We asked insurance companies if you’d be covered in a fire caused by a recalled dehumidifier.
In most cases, they tell us they would cover the loss, then go after the manufacturer. But in the case where the cord were cut off and re-attached, they say you’d be lucky to get much money.
“People need to understand a recall is not a ‘It might break. It might cause a problem.’ It’s, if it does fail — and we’ve had plenty of evidence to show that it will fail — it’s going to cause a lot of damage in your home,” warns Craig.
Firefighters are asking you to check your dehumidifier and tell friends and family to do the same.