One of two manufacturers of plastic pipes used to vent toxic emissions from home heating systems into the atmosphere will no longer pay its share of the repair costs, thus burdening consumers with hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.
Roughly 93,000 of an estimated 250,000 gas or propane furnaces and boilers equipped with high-temperature plastic Ultravent, Plexvent, or Plexvent II vent pipes have been repaired since February 1998. That's when a mediator brokered a voluntary settlement between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and nearly all manufacturers in the home-heating industry to replace the pipes, which could crack or separate at the joints and leak deadly carbon monoxide. When the recall was originally announced, Hart and Cooley, the manufacturer of Ultravent pipes, agreed to participate in the program indefinitely. In late 1999, the company was acquired by EQ Corp. Despite having ample assets to continue funding its share of the recall, EQ informed the CPSC that "it is not legally responsible and, therefore, will not do so." Attempts to interview EQ's legal counsel were unsuccessful. The firm currently doing business as Hart and Cooley is not the subject of this alert.
All of the other companies participating in the recall program are continuing to honor their obligations, the CPSC says. For a complete list of firms involved, go to: www.cpsc.gov and enter 98-072 in the search window.
WHAT TO DO
Inspect the pipes. Plexvent are black; Ultravent pipes are gray. All affected pipes will have "Ultravent," "Plexvent," or "Plexvent II" on them. The recall includes any boiler with the affected vent pipes, but only those furnaces with "horizontal" pipe systems that extend through a home's sidewalls.
Next, call: 800-758-3688 to verify the information and to arrange for installation of a new vent pipe system. Plexvent pipes will be replaced free of cost. EQ's action means that those with Ultravent pipes will have to pay the company's portion of the bill, which ranges from $230 to $250. That's around 40% of the project's total cost. Boiler and Furnace makers will pick up the balance of the cost.
Taken from: Consumer Reports February 2006 issue, page 11.