August 16, 2017

Archives for September 2011

Recall: Goldstar and Comfort-Aire Dehumidifiers by LG Electronics

LG Electronics Tianjin Appliance Co., in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), is urging consumers to check if they have recalled Goldstar or Comfort-Aire dehumidifiers. The firm is re-announcing the recall of about 98,000 of the dangerous dehumidifiers that pose a serious fire and burn hazard, and are believed to be responsible for more than one million dollars in property damage.

The power connector for the dehumidifier’s compressor can short circuit, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers and their property.

The dehumidifiers were first recalled in December 2009 following eleven incidents, including four significant fires. Since that time, the company has received sixteen additional incident reports of arcing, smoke and fire associated with the dehumidifiers, including nine significant fires. No injuries have been reported. Fires are reported to have caused more than $1 million in property damage including:

$500,000 in damage to a home in Gibsonia, Pa.
$200,000 in damage to a home in New Brighton, Minn.
$183,000 in damage to a home in Hudson, Mass.
$192,000 in damage to a home in Valparaiso, Ind.
$139,000 in damage to a home in Salem, Ohio
$129,000 in damage to a home in Brielle, N.J.
$ 95,000 in damage to a home in Philadelphia, Pa.

Because of the severity of the risks, CPSC and LG Electronics are concerned with the lack of consumer response to the recall. Only two percent of the 98,000 consumers who purchased these units have received a free repair, which means that consumers and their property remain at serious risk.

Anyone who has the recalled dehumidifiers is strongly encouraged to immediately stop using them, unplug them, and contact LG Electronics for the free repair.

The recall involves the 30 pint portable dehumidifiers sold under the Goldstar and Comfort-Aire brands. The dehumidifiers are white with a red shut-off button, controls for fan speed and humidity control, and a front-loading water bucket. “Goldstar” or “Comfort-Aire” is printed on the front. Model and serial number ranges included in this recall are listed in the table below. The model and serial numbers are located on the interior of the dehumidifier, and can be seen when the water bucket is removed.

Brand Model No. Serial Number Range Sold at
Goldstar GHD30Y7 611TAxx00001 through 08400
611TAxx08401 through 40600
612TAxx00001 through 20400
612TAxx21001 through 30600 Home Depot

Brand Model No. Serial Number Range Sold at
Goldstar DH305Y7 612TAxx00001 through 00600
701TAxx00001 through 16800
702TAxx00001 through 03000 Walmart

Brand Model No. Serial Number Range Sold at
Comfort-Aire BHD-301-C 611TA000001 through 001697
612TA000001 through 004200
701TA000001 through 000578
710TA000001 through 000599 Various retailers, including Ace
Hardware, Do It Best and Orgill Inc.

The recalled dehumidifiers were sold at The Home Depot, Walmart, Ace Hardware, Do It Best, Orgill Inc., and other retailers nationwide from January 2007 through June 2008 for between $140 and $150. They were manufactured in China.

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Refrigerator Safety Act

The horrifying death of a child trapped in an abandoned refrigerator was the motivation behind a story by the Channel 5 news in Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

The station reported finding numerous refrigerators abandoned in people’s yards. This is certainly a danger and without question should be addressed as a public safety hazard, but the investigation states that “it’s against federal law to have such an appliance just sitting around.”

I was curious about this federal law called The Refrigerator Safety Act and looked into it myself. What I found is this:

{SEC. 1.} [15 U.S.C. 1211]
It shall be unlawful for any person to introduce or deliver
for introduction into interstate commerce any household
refrigerator manufactured on or after the date this section takes
effect unless it is equipped with a device, enabling the door
there of to be opened from the inside,
which conforms with
standards prescribed pursuant to section 3.

The law was to become effective after the various standards were defined, all of which followed the Refrigerator Safety Act’s publication date of August 2, 1956. This also appears to be misunderstood in the news story.

The local station also reported that “The law says that if you’re going to keep a refrigerator around, the doors and locks must be removed.”

I could find nothing that requires the owner to alter their appliance. The manufacturer is required to make it possible to open it from inside, preventing entrapment. I don’t think a panicked, trapped child (or adult) will be able to find the release mechanism and get out. The concept is good, but in practice, I don’t think it will work. Removing the doors is a great idea, it just doesn’t appear to be legally required.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I have taped, tied and locked my empty freezer before turning it to the wall and locking it in the garage away from all children and animals. I take the safety of others very seriously, I just couldn’t find the federal law that could fine me if I didn’t take government mandated precautions. I don’t have a solution or an answer to what should or shouldn’t be governed; I’ll try to do what I believe to be right to protect others, but I like to be clear about laws.

Take a look at the law here, and see if my reading comprehension needs improving. In the meantime, please, don’t leave any appliance large enough to contain a living breathing, creature out where it will be a hazard- federal law or not.

The Battle Continues – LG vs Whirlpool

If you have been following the ongoing series of court debates between LG and Whirlpool, you’ll be aware of the back and forth battles regarding steam dryers and refrigerator patents.

The United States District Court in Chicago this week entered a final judgment in favor of Whirlpool in a case filed by LG Electronics involving Whirlpool’s steam dryer advertising. The court had previously ruled that “Whirlpool has established that its dryers do, in fact, use steam,” and that “LG did not introduce expert testimony or credible evidence of even a single Whirlpool customer, retailer, or trade representative who expressed confusion.”

“We’re very pleased with the Court’s decision,” said Marc Bitzer, president, Whirlpool North America Region. This victory means consumers will continue to have a choice in purchasing their steam laundry appliances.”

While this seems to settle the steam dryer case, the refrigerator patent battles continue. LG originally sued to have Whirlpool fridge patents invalidated; Whirlpool countersued. In March 2010, a jury trial found mostly in favor of Whirlpool and awarded Whirlpool $1,786,925. On July 1, 2011, the court granted a new trial and set a trial date of Sept. 28, 2011.

Whirlpool is seeking a judgment that better validates its patent claims; LG seeks to have the claims of patent violation invalidated and eliminate its liability. Stay tuned…

Haier Buying Sanyo Appliance Division

Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. plans to sell much of its major appliance business to China’s Haier Group, in an uncommon instance of a Japanese electronics conglomerate allowing a rising Chinese rival take over a chunk of a major business segment.

The sale of the Sanyo operations—mostly washing-machine and refrigerator businesses—is part of Panasonic’s efforts to eliminate overlapping areas since its 2009 purchase of Sanyo. For Haier, the acquisition of Sanyo’s businesses will help it move a step closer to becoming a globally recognized quality appliance brand like Whirlpool or Electrolux.

Haier Group will have the rights to use the Sanyo brand name on washing machines, refrigerators, air-conditioners, TVs, and other consumer appliances in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia under the SANYO brand for a limited, but unspecified, period of time.

The acquisition of the Sanyo businesses is “an important part of Haier’s overall growth strategy,” said Haier Vice President Du Jingguo in a statement released Thursday.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Haier has said previously it was looking at overseas acquisitions to grow. President Yang Mianmian told Dow Jones Newswires in March it would look at opportunities that arise.

The Chinese firm previously held talks with General Electric Co. in 2008 to buy the U.S. firm’s appliance unit. Before the talks with GE, Haier made an unsuccessful bid for Maytag Corp. in 2004 but lost out to Whirlpool Corp.

Haier holds more than 6% of the world’s white-goods market.