Some 875,000 package terminal air conditioners/heat pumps (PTACs) are involved in a voluntary corrective action program to address a reported fire hazard. Goodman Co. L.P., Houston, is implementing the action in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The units were manufactured by Goodman and sold as Amana, Trane, and American Standard branded units. Certain Amana-brand PTACs made by Goodman from January 1996 through March 2003 and certain Trane and American Standard brand PTACs made by Goodman from January 1996 through August 2002 are affected.

The beige-colored units were sold by Amana, Trane, and American Standard representatives to hotels, motels, hospitals, assisted living facilities, schools, and apartment complexes, "probably 95 to 96 percent to hotels and motels," according to Gary Clark, senior vice president marketing for Goodman. Few, if any, were sold through distributor/dealer channels, he said.

The voluntary corrective action is not a recall, Clark pointed out, although the word recall is being used by the CPSC in announcements about the units.

Units are not actually being recalled, but a free thermal safety limit switch and detailed instructions are being supplied to owners of the affected units. Goodman's instructions are detailed in a well-illustrated four-page leaflet available in both English and Spanish, Clark reported.

Units with 3.5 kilowatt or greater heaters are affected, and the units can be identified by model and serial numbers.

New Switches

"Goodman is sending out a new limit switch that will correct the problem," Clark toldThe News. Replacing the switch is relatively simple, he said, and the brochure sent with the replacement part guides the owner or maintenance person through the process step by step.

Owners of the units can call the Goodman Hotline at 800-729-6122 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. They can obtain and submit a PTAC Recall Information Form at a Goodman Web site,

"Goodman received 29 confirmed reports of units overheating, including eight instances where the PTAC ignited and, in some cases, caused minor property damage," a joint CPSC/Goodman press release said.

A fire hazard can result from a chain of events beginning with a clogged filter. That can severely restrict airflow and bring about elevated internal temperature, the announcement noted.

"This may cause two safety switches to stop working during the product's expected life. If the blower wheel then stops when the product is operated in the heating mode, a fire hazard can develop."

Goodman noted at the aforementioned Web site that restricted airflow can also result from the unit being obstructed by furniture. At least "eight inches clearance is needed from unit to furniture, beds, or other objects for proper operation," according to a maintenance and cleaning manual for PTACs issued by Goodman dated January 2004. That manual details monthly and yearly procedures for maintaining and cleaning the units.

The same publication also notes "some local conditions and environments can cause fungi and other material to grow inside the PTAC unit. This material when dried, as well as other foreign material, similar to dryer lint in your clothes dryer, are fire hazards."

Owners are urged "to thoroughly check and clean the unit's coils, blower wheel, and basepan per the instructions contained in this manual."

Publication date: 10/25/2004