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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 1996

Release # 96-069
CPSC: Kate Primo
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1187

CPSC, Berko Electric Announce Baseboard Heater Repair Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC), Berko Electric of Peru, Ind., is announcing the voluntary repair or replacement of approximately 1.5 million baseboard heaters. Wires inside the heaters may deteriorate, allowing electrical currents to flow to the outside steel air deflector cover. Arcing, or sparking, may occur, burning holes in the cover. As a result, a potential fire hazard exists. In addition, if the heaters are not properly grounded, an electrical shock could exist.

Berko, a division of Marley Electric Heating, has received some 200 complaints of deteriorated wires and burned heater covers. To date, only minor property damage has been reported.

This repair program affects only Berko heaters sold between January 1980 and March 1987 with model numbers that begin with "MBB," followed by four numbers, and ending in "M" (for example, "MBB2-524-M").

The tan-colored baseboard heaters are permanently installed units measuring two feet (500 watt) to ten feet (2500 watt) in length. The silver Berko identification label, which includes the model number, is located inside the heater on the right side, just below the steel air deflector. The black date code is printed directly on the heater, just to the right of the identifying label (for example, "FEB 22 85")

To prevent a fire or electric shock, all of the potentially defective heaters should be repaired or replaced. Consumers who own Berko MBB...M series baseboard heaters should check for discoloration on the steel air deflector cover of the heater. If the cover is discolored, heaters should be disconnected immediately until repaired. Berko will either provide new wire to repair the heaters or provide a substantial discount towards the purchase of new heaters, depending on consumers' preference.

Berko will provide free replacement crossover wire rated at 125 degrees centigrade rather than the 105 degree centigrade temperature of the original crossover wire. Detailed instructions for changing the wire will also be provided. Only a qualified electrician should perform the heater repairs. Owners or service providers who want to receive new crossover wires should contact Berko either through their local participating Berko distributor or by calling Berko's customer service center at (800) 545-8306.

Owners who choose to replace their heaters can purchase a new model Berko baseboard heater at 60 percent off the retail list price. Consumers who choose this option must remove the silver Berko identification label from the MBB...M series baseboard heater and turn it in at the time of purchase of the equivalent new heater. Owners will obtain a discount on any purchase of the same number of heaters of equal or less physical size and wattage. Owners or service providers who want to purchase new heaters should also contact either their local participating Berko distributor or call (800) 545-8306.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can report product hazards to info@cpsc.gov.

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