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The problem occurs when excessive moisture forms on the filter collection cells, which can cause excessive heat due to arcing and a buildup of carbon. The collection cell material is actually flame-retardant, but will melt under enough heat, thus creating smoke. All seven instances were on air-handler applications in hot and humid climates. The company has not seen similar incidents with furnaces, but has issued the recall for all of the products regardless of the application.
“We do not take any chances with consumer safety,” said David Pannier, president of Trane and American Standard Residential Systems.
The company officially submitted a written report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on June 22. The CPSC granted approval of the proposed corrective action plan on July 3, according to Dale Green, vice president of marketing and sales.
The company first contacted the CPSC on June 14, and according to Green, “We presented the root cause analysis which had been performed by our engineering staff. Shortly thereafter, we presented a proposed corrective action plan.”
In Green’s opinion, the CPSC process which can sometimes take weeks took only a matter of days because of the forthright manner in which the company acted. “This was due to our proactive stance and the fact that we had quickly recommended an appropriate course of action to the CPSC.”
Green said, “We had three separate conference calls with each of our distribution networks to discuss the recall action and the status of the Consumer Product Safety Commission approval. On July 3, which was the third of our calls, we informed them that we had received CPSC approval for our proposed corrective actions and that we were prepared to move forward.”
The solution to the potential excessive moisture problem on the collection cells is to upgrade the cells with a 200 meg ohm, higher impedance resistor. The upgraded cells will not experience the same problem, even in the presence of extreme amounts of moisture. Green noted that the new collection cells will have the same air cleaning efficiency of 99.98 percent down to 0.1 microns.
The corrective action is officially classified as a recall alert. A recall alert is approved by CPSC only if the company can demonstrate an ability to contact affected consumers in a prompt and comprehensive manner.
“We will be contacting consumers not only through our contractors, but will be mailing a recall notice to approximately 32,000 consumers whose information comes directly from our databases,” said Green.
The company and its distributors will also be notifying all dealer customers. Contractors assisting in the repair will be reimbursed by Trane and American Standard.
The recall only affects stand-alone products manufactured before May 29. It does not affect kits for upgrading existing Trane and American Standard Perfect Fit products, nor does it include integrated air handlers or integrated furnaces.
The company and its dealer network is advising owners with air handlers to turn off the air cleaning system until the replacement collection cells have been installed. If installed with a furnace, there is no need to turn off the air cleaner. However, collection cells in furnaces will also be replaced.
Homeowners will be instructed that if they have not already been contacted by their dealer, they can seek information at 888-556-0125 or at www.trane.com or www.americanstandardair.com.
Publication date: 07/16/2007