|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|April 24, 1984|
|Release # 84-027|
Washington, D.C.-- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announces that its staff has issued an administrative complaint against Honeywell, Inc., of Minneapolis, Minn., which alleges that Honeywell's V5130 gas combination control valves contain a defect which, when used with LP gas water heaters, presents a substantial risk of injury to the public from fires and explosions.
The Commission has learned of approximately 64 explosion incidents involving this control valve-- including 16 deaths and approximately 35 incidents of personal injury to consumers.
The complaint is limited to valves used in water heaters fueled by LP gas. Since LP gas is heavier than air, it does not vent easily and, in the case of a leak, tends to settle toward the floor, accumulate there, and may lead to an explosion when touched off by a nearby ignition source.
The combination valve serves the dual purpose of regulating the gas supplied to the water heater and the safety function of shutting off the gas supply when the pilot light becomes extinguished.
The complaint alleges that the design of the valve knob, which utilizes plastic lugs keyed into the metal slots of the gas cock, is defective. It maintains that V5130 controls which were made between 1958 and 1976, have knobs that can be easily worn and broken such that the knob can become reversed (rotated 180°) with respect to the gas cock. Should this happen, the knob could become stuck in the depressed position and defeat the pilot-flame safety system. Thereafter, if the pilot flame should go out, the water cools, the thermostat calls for heat, and the control valve opens to heat the water. As a result, substantial quantities of unburned gas will be released through the pilot and main burners and create a serious explosion and/or fire hazard.
This control was used on various water heaters manufactured by numerous different manufacturers. Some of the controls are identifiable by the Honeywell name on the front faceplate. Others may only have the name of the water heater manufacturer. The consumer may need to consult his LP gas supplier or a qualified plumber to get positive identification of the valve.
Persons who become aware of explosion or fire incidents that may be associated with this product should contact the CPSC on its toll-free Hotline 800-638-CPSC. Information regarding this matter may also be obtained by calling the CPSC toll-free Hotline. The teletypewriter number for the hearing impaired is (301) 595-7054.