03 June 2010

Whirlpool Recalling Maytag Dishwashers due to Fire Hazard

Bloomberg / Business Week

Whirlpool Corp., the world’s largest appliance maker, issued the biggest U.S. dishwasher recall in three years to fix 1.7 million of its Maytag models with a fire hazard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

The dishwashers have a faulty heating element that can short-circuit and ignite, the agency said today in a statement. Consumers should stop using the dishwashers immediately and disconnect the power source by pulling the fuse or flipping a circuit-breaker, the agency said.

The manufacturer, based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, received 12 reports of fires with the plastic-tub models, including a blaze that caused extensive kitchen damage, the agency said. No injuries have been reported.

“Product quality and consumer safety are Whirlpool Corporation’s top priorities,” spokeswoman Jill Saletta said in an e-mailed statement. “If a product quality or safety issue is identified, we move swiftly and with urgency to correct the issue.”

The dishwasher recall is the biggest since General Electric Co. targeted 2.5 million units with a fire hazard in May 2007, according to the safety commission’s website. Maytag recalled 2.3 million dishwashers in February 2007 after 135 fires were reported.

Those are the only dishwasher recalls involving more than 500,000 units in the past decade listed on the agency website.

Maytag sold the recalled units at department and kitchen appliance stores and homebuilders from February 2006 through April 2010 for $250 to $900, according to a company news release.

$75 Million Cost

Whirlpool said it was investigating “a limited number” of potential quality and safety issues when it filed its April 26 quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We currently expect to undertake a corrective action to address a supplier-related quality and potential product safety issue,” Whirlpool said in the filing. “We have accrued $75 million for this matter based on our current estimate of the costs of the action.”

Saletta confirmed the amount in the filing covers the dishwasher recall.

Maytag will repair the appliances in customers’ homes without charge, the agency said. Consumers who prefer new dishwashers will get a rebate of $150 or $250 toward a purchase of one of seven new Maytag stainless-steel tub models.

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