It’s Wintertime!!!

 

Now that Christmas is over and the unusually warm weather sweeping the country is gone, it is time to take some precautions against the effects of cold weather.  Actually, it’s past time.  As silly as it sounds, having your furnace or chimney checked and prepared for winter is something that should have been done in the fall, while the weather was comfortable.  If you’ve procrastinated and put off doing what should have been done months ago, then you might have somewhat of an uphill struggle depending on your part of the country.  In any case, gas and oil furnaces and chimneys should be checked to make sure that carbon monoxide won’t be a problem.  Electric furnaces should also be checked to make sure that all high voltage wiring is in good condition and won’t be a problem later on.  All heating equipment should be cleaned and the air filters replaced at least on a yearly basis.  In addition, gas piping should be inspected for leaks.  Fires and explosions from leaking gas lines seem to be making headlines more often these days.  If you smell gas and know where to turn the main gas valve off – DO IT; then call the gas utility company and report the problem.  Otherwise get out of your building, get a safe distance away, such as across the street or further if need be; call the gas utility and report a problem.  Lastly, don’t hesitate to call 911 and request fire department assistance.  Remember, it’s better to have the fire department on the scene and prepared for an emergency if nothing happens rather than not have emergency assistance if a fire or explosion occurs.  At this time of year, many people will also use portable kerosene and oil filled electric heaters.  These types of heaters must be used with an abundance of caution.  These heaters are typically used inside homes and small spaces.  These heaters also have strict distance requirements and must be kept away from combustible material.  Moreover, small children must be kept away from these heaters while in operation because of the potential burn hazard.  Furthermore, if heat tapes are in use, be sure they are in good condition and are heating water lines as intended.  Be sure that the tapes or wraps are not in contact with combustible material.  If using pipe insulation, be sure that the insulation covers all exposed piping that is subjected to subfreezing temperatures.  Moreover, if your house is on a crawlspace, don’t forget to close the vents on the exterior sides as leaving them open will cause the interior to lose heat and the HVAC unit to run longer than necessary.

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General Electric Pays $3.5 million Civil Penalty

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that it has come to an agreement with General Electric regarding an imposed penalty for not reporting defects in two of its product lines. The products were identified as the “Profile” dual fuel ranges and “Profile and Monogram” dishwashers. According to the CPSC, press release number 15-082 dated February 19, 2015; General Electric had been notified about overheating of a wiring harness connector back in 2004 but did not report the problem until 2009. It was further determined that the overheating of the connector could also pose a fire hazard. In April of 2009, General Electric recalled 28,000 dual fuel ranges because of the hazard. Furthermore, the CPSC has determined that the control board in “Profile” and “Monogram” dishwashers can short circuit as result of the buildup of condensation on the boards. The short circuiting can also pose fire and burn hazards. According to the CPSC, General Electric had known about the problem since 2007 but failed to report the defect to the CPSC until 2010. Instead, the company chose to settle claims and make payments based on reports of defective units. In October of 2010, the company recalled 174,000 units.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to notify the CPSC immediately after learning of a potential defect in a product that could be hazardous to consumers. Consumers can report a dangerous product by going on line to www.saferproducts.gov or calling the CPSC hotline at 1-800-638-2772.

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