Release date: February 7, 1991
Release number: 91-037

Release Details

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today announced that Guthrie North America, Inc. (Guthrie NA), and Ecodyne, Inc. (Ecodyne) on behalf of Water Refining Company, Inc. (WRC), presently owned by Ecodyne, Chicago, IL, have paid the Commission a total of $300,000 in civil penalties to resolve Commission staff allegations that WRC and Guthrie NA, a former owner of WRC, failed to report a defect in two models of residential water softeners, as required by the Consumer Product Safety Act.

The water softeners are 110 volt single and double tank units designed to remove certain chemicals from drinking water. The staff alleged that a defect in a solenoid component of the water softeners can result in a fire that can spread to surrounding combustibles. Although no personal injuries or deaths have been reported, the possibility exists that such a fire could result in serious personal injury or death to the occupant of the residence in which the water softener is located.

Approximately 336,000 of these water softeners were distributed between 1967 and 1976, under the brand names "Servisoft," "Refine-A-Matic," and "Miracle Water." Ecodyne has replaced the defective components in the units that it could locate. Consumers who have purchased any of these water softeners manufactured between 1967 and 1976, should contact Ecodyne's Supervisor of Warranty Operations, Barbara L. Becker, at (612) 739-5330 to determine whether the unit is in need of repair and to have the unit repaired at no cost.

A primary mission of the CPSC is to prevent injury and death. Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers are required to notify the CPSC if they obtain information which reasonably supports the conclusion that a product either (1) fails to meet a consumer product safety standard or banning regulation, or (2) has a defect that "could create" a substantial product hazard to consumers.

Timely reporting of potentially hazardous consumer products is essential for the CPSC to protect the public safety. Once identified to the Commission, the risk of injury presented can be quickly reduced.

The Commission has published a handbook that suggests company procedures for notifying the Commission of defective consumer products and how to implement a recall. Firms may obtain a free copy of the handbook, or report a defective product which could create a substantial product hazard, by calling the CPSC's Division of Corrective Actions at (301) 492-6608.

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