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This article explains the safety recall of Cadet™ and Encore™ in-wall electric heaters, giving identifying photographs, model numbers, years of manufacture, and fire hazard or electrical hazard description. We include general safety warnings about electric in-wall heaters that may affect other heater brands and models as well.
Encore electric wall heater recall: model list, photographs; US CPSC Cadet / Encore wall heater recall information, list of model numbers, years of manufacture of electric wall heaters found to be unsafe; Copy of Cadet Encore wall heater CPSC administrative action "complaint"; Copy of Cadet Encore wall heater consent decree and actions;
Field report of Cadet wall heater failure, kudos to responsive Cadet Manufacturing, Cadet wall heater thermostat switch add-on and wiring.
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Cadet and Encore brand in-wall electric heaters have been recalled and are considered unsafe - the model numbers and identification information are located in the CPSC notice shown below.
However, as J. Simmons, a licensed electrician in Washington, points out, basic maintenance can cause any electric heater to become unsafe.
In the photo shown here Mr. Simmons documents a completely blocked wall mounted heater air intake.
Watch out: Anyone using an electric heater, particularly these wall-mounted types whose inlet screen is not readily visible, should check their heater intake for blockage with lint or debris as shown here.
When an electric heater's air intake becomes blocked, the heater will overheat and can present a serious fire hazard. (This is a variation on the electric or gas fueled clothes dryer fire hazard - lint blocks the air flow and the appliance overheats.)
NEWS from CPSC
WASHINGTON, D.C. - 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.
Quoting from the 1999 "Complaint",
The following models of Cadet and Encore brands were involved in the February 2000 recall:
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.
These recommendations and more are covered in "Your Home Fire Safety Checklist" (a pdf version available free online here or also from the US CPSC. You can also have a free copy mailed to you by writing to CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20207.
For more information about the recall, contact Cadet's informational Hotline at (800) 567-2613 anytime or visit the firm's website at www.cadetco.com
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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
Dangerous Product Reports to the US CPSC: To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at SaferProducts.gov.
Cadet Wall Heater Field Report of Failure, Product Improvements, Repair Details
Question: How Have the Cadet Wall Heater Safety Concerns Been Corrected
Due to a tendency to restart in the off position, I just learned recently that the Cadet in-wall heater I'd had in my home for many years had been found to be dangerous and been recalled in 2000. My question now is: How have the replacements changed, or how have they tested out, and are they safe ? Since my house is now a two-unit apartment building, I have the extra obligation to keep my tenants safe, since I will not be there to be watchful. I would not consider a Cadet replacement were there not a need for the new one to fit the original wall-opening.
Since I removed the heater and no longer live in the apartment, I can't give you in-place photos; However, I can say it was mounted about 2 feet up from the floor on a plain wall well away from any combustibles or any dust-contributing factors.
The times when I opened it up, even though it was always clean and dust free, except for a very light film on the fan-blades which wiped off easily, I vacuumed it out, cautious of the delicate nichrome wires.
The model was Cadet FX-101 and you can see it above or on their website at cadetco.com, or (maybe with the new number) at cadetelectricheat.com. You can also find a long list of the recalled heaters and their replacements. - M.B.
While it's possible that the restart in off position problem you describe could have been caused by prior overheating, it could also be simply a failed switch - if so that may be a component not addressed by recalls. Any details you can add may be helpful. You should also report your experience to the US CPSC.
Changes in Cadet Wall Heater Design
Follow up from M.B.: I contacted the company to try to get an answer as to what had been changed, and for a while heard nothing, but the company's customer service rep (Trisha Zufelt, Customer Service ) did eventually answer me, mentioning that current units have newer style heating elements and over temperature limits (manual reset instead of automatic reset, forcing customers to investigate why the unit is overheating).
How to Be Sure your Cadet Wall Heater is Turned OFF - Add-On Thermostat/Switch
But she also advised me that if I want an actual shut-off, I need to install a double-pole thermostat in the replacement heater I buy.
This was interesting to me, because I've always assumed that a thermostat, acting as it shuts off when it's turned way back beyond any possible temperature impulse, had a shut-off position. Trisha gave me the information I need, and has been helpful, answering numerous letters.
I also got a layout of how to wire-in the thermostat, and am pleased that the company is so forthcoming. You can find it yourself on their website, titled "Wiring Diagrams Single Pole T1 and Wiring Diagrams Double Pole T2". The lower left one would work for me, with the replacement heater #CS101. Find the wall heater thermostat wiring instructions here
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