Millions of dehumidifiers recalled for fire risk

The units made by Gree Electric Appliances are linked to house fires and four deaths. It’s the latest recall for a company that’s faced civil and criminal cases over its dehumidifiers.

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A charred, melted dehumidifier and other burned belongings in what appears to be a basement storage area. The photo, provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, shows fire damage from a recalled dehumidifier.

Damage from a fire caused by a recalled dehumidifier.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday announced a new recall of dangerous dehumidifiers and issued a reminder of a previous recall of units implicated in four deaths and hundreds of house fires, all by the same manufacturer.

The latest recall covers 42 models of dehumidifiers manufactured by Gree Electric Appliances of Zhuhai, China, and linked to at least 23 fires. The units are sold under the brand names Kenmore, GE, SoleusAir, Norpole and Seabreeze.

The recall covers 1.56 million units that were sold at major retailers between 2011 and 2014, according to the safety commission. Model numbers are at this CPSC link.

The first recall of Gree-manufactured dehumidifiers was announced in 2013 and later expanded. The units can overheat, smoke and catch fire and have been implicated in house fires in which four people died in Ohio, Iowa and Missouri. The CPSC has logged more than 2,000 instances of the dehumidifiers overheating, with 450 fires and $19 million in property damage.

The earlier recall covered 2.5 million units with capacities ranging from 20 to 70 pints, sold under the brand names Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, GE, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima. The units were available at retailers nationwide from 2005 through 2014. Model numbers can be found at this CPSC link or greedehumidifierrecall.com.

The fire danger from the recalled dehumidifiers has been known for years, but response rates have been low. It’s unclear how many of the millions of units sold over the last two decades are still humming along in people’s homes.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in 2019 that even with civil and criminal cases against Gree for failing to tell the government its dehumidifiers were defective and could catch fire, many recalled units remain in use by unsuspecting consumers.

Dehumidifiers are typically used in damp basements, where they are out of sight. Experts say you should never leave a dehumidifier on while you are not home or when you go to bed.

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