Just in time for winter weather comes a recall of wall-mounted heating and cooling units from Carrier, Inc. The company’s wall-mounted heating and cooling units (known as PTAC/PTHPs) are being recalled because the insulation inside them can break, sparking fires and causing toxic smoke. Several specific model numbers sold between January 2002 and December 2006 were recalled Nov. 6; if you think you might have one, you can visit the manufacturer’s recall Web site to arrange a repair.
At least five fires caused by these defects had been reported as of November. Thus far, the fires have all been confined inside the heating units themselves, but they create toxic smoke that can be blown out into the room for occupants to breathe. Because most of these units are used in motels and other enclosed areas where occupants may not attract much attention from passers-by, that smoke could have catastrophic consequences. If the smoke starts while the occupants of the room are asleep, it could go undetected for hours, causing serious smoke inhalation injuries or wrongful deaths.
It doesn’t feel much like winter in South Carolina right now, but we know the cold weather is coming soon, and not everyone has built-in heating. Those folks should be very careful in their choice of stand alone heating devices. Space heaters kill several innocent families every winter with fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. And a March 2007 recall of ventilators with a similar fire hazard defect reported that one fire caused more than $1 million worth of property damage.