CPSC Reminds Consumers to Check for Recalled Cadet In-Wall Heaters

November 4, 2002
Release Number: 03030

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers to examine their in-wall electric heaters to determine if they are among the 1.9 million Cadet and Encore brand heaters recalled in February 2000. Although the Cadet Manufacturing Co. heaters were sold and distributed primarily in California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington from about 1978 through 2000, some of the heaters were sold in other states. A four-year old boy died on September 14, 2002, in Alexandria, Va., when one of the recalled Cadet heaters allegedly was involved in a house fire.

CPSC strongly urges consumers to stop using these heaters and have them replaced if they have one of the recalled models. Consumers who had their heaters repaired under Cadet's original program in 1997 still need to get their heaters replaced. Consumers are advised to contact the Cadet informational Hotline or visit their website www.cadetco.com for where to buy replacement heaters.

The following models of Cadet and Encore brands were involved in the February 2000 recall: FW, FX, LX, TK, ZA, Z, RA, RK, RLX, RX, RW, and ZC . The brand and model are located on a label on the front of the heat box, behind the grill. Before removing the grill to check the identification label, consumers must turn off the power supply to the heater at the electrical panel board (circuit breaker or fuse box). If power is not turned off, consumers risk electrocution.

CPSC alleged that these Cadet and Encore brand in-wall electric heaters are defective and can overheat and catch fire. Flames, sparks, or molten particles can spew through the front grill cover of the heater into the living area of a residence, putting consumers at risk from fires, including burn injuries, smoke inhalation, and property damage. The heaters and their grills also can become energized, creating a risk of electric shock.

CPSC is aware of more than 320 reports of heaters that smoked, sparked, caught fire, emitted flames, or ejected burning particles or molten materials. These incidents have allegedly resulted in four deaths, two serious burn injuries and property damage claims exceeding $4.3 million, which includes six partial or total house fires.

In January 1999, CPSC filed a lawsuit against Cadet to compel it to recall the heaters. Cadet filed for bankruptcy the same month. Working with the company and its creditors, on February 17, 2000, CPSC and Cadet announced a settlement of the lawsuit and a recall of the heaters. Cadet agreed to make new heaters available to Cadet owners at significantly reduced prices. However, due to Cadet's bankruptcy, the opportunity to obtain discounted heaters expired on February 17, 2002.

Since the heaters pose a fire hazard until they are replaced, consumers should have at least one fully operational smoke detector on every floor of their home, especially near bedrooms. To ensure that the detector's batteries are working, test the detector every month. Consumers also should have a well-defined and rehearsed escape plan and an alternate escape plan in the event of a fire.