February 16, 1999Rheem Manufacturing Issues
Recall to Repair Electric Furnaces and Air Handlers
Fort Smith, AR (SafetyAlerts) - In cooperation with the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Rheem Manufacturing Co. is recalling about
135,000 electric furnaces and air handlers for repair. The heating elements in the
electric furnaces and air handlers can disintegrate, and expel small particles of molten
metal through the duct system and into the living area of the residence. The molten metal
particles can ignite nearby combustibles, presenting a fire hazard to consumers.
Rheem has received 16 reports of fires resulting in minor to serious property damage,
including one report of a total house fire. No injuries have been reported.
Only certain down flow and horizontal installations are involved in this recall.
Specifically, only Rheem RBEA, UBEA, WBEA, and WBEMA model electric furnaces and Rheem
RBHA, UBHA, WBHA, and WBHMA model electric air handlers with date codes between
3592 and 4595 are part of this recall. The model and date code are on an
identification plate affixed to the front of the unit. The date code is the four digits
following the letter "M" in the unit's serial number. The first two digits of
the date code specifies the week and the last two digits specifies the year. The recalled
units have cabinets, which are constructed of sheet steel painted beige or platinum, that
house a circulating air blower, electric heating elements, mechanical controls, and an air
filter. The physical dimensions of the units are 35 inches in length, 22 inches in depth
and in varying widths of 14, 17.5, 21 or 24.5 inches, depending on model size.
Rheem sold the furnaces and air handlers nationwide from August 1992 through December 1995
to distributors who, in turn, sold them to heating, ventilating, and air conditioning
dealers. The furnaces and air handlers reportedly were sold to consumers for about $600 to
Consumers with recalled furnaces and air handlers should call Rheem's toll-free number
(877) 749-6035, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Rheem will provide information on
how to arrange to have a qualified service technician repair the unit by installing a new
blower assembly, which contains a heating element with improved reliability. Rheem will
pay for the new part, as well as provide a labor allowance for its installation.
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