On September 17, 2010 Lennox International, Inc. sent a letter to all of its constituent regional organizations as well as its licensed dealers, installers and repair technicians placing a “Product Hold” on a series of residential air conditioning units. According to the letter, Lennox air conditioning units manufactured between July 1, 2010 and September 16, 2010 starting with serial numbers 1910G, 1910J, 5810G, and 5810J represent a serious fire hazard during installation. As part of the standard installation, the suction lines on the units must be brazed. Due to the configuration of the suction lines, one of the refrigerant valves can overheat and crack from the heat generated by the brazing. As a result, refrigerant escapes and the oil in the refrigerant can ignite. There are several reported cases of the fire spreading to the home causing significant property damage. It is believed that Lennox has not issued a full recall of these units because it is trying to develop a fix for the problem so that units that have been released into the supply chain can still be utilized at a later date.
Clearly any fire involving an HVAC unit reported between July 1 and September 16 should be scrutinized to determine if a Lennox unit was involved and, if so, whether a “held” unit was the culprit. If it is determined that a “held” unit was the culprit, Lennox should be considered as a potential defendant. Second, there is at least one known case of this type of fire occurring after the “hold” was issued. Any installer that fails to heed Lennox’s warning not to install the product could open itself to liability, depending on the laws of the state where the fire occurs.