Caravan and motorhome owners urged to check for deadly faulty water heaters before the holidays
4 December 2020
Consumers are urged to check their caravans and recreational vehicles (RVs) for dangerous Suburban-branded water heaters which may emit deadly carbon monoxide.
The Suburban Recreational Vehicle water heater can operate using electricity or gas, and may produce unsafe levels of carbon monoxide when gas is used to generate the heat.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause death, and exposure for a short amount of time can lead to serious injuries. Carbon monoxide has no smell and is unlikely to be detected. It is also highly flammable and can explode on contact with a spark or flame.
The Gas Technical Regulators Committee (GTRC), with the ACCC’s assistance, is raising awareness of the need for repair of thousands of water heaters.
“Do not use the affected water heaters in gas mode under any circumstances,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“It’s especially important to check your caravan’s water heater as soon as possible if you plan to go away during the summer holidays. It only takes a minute and it could save the lives of your loved ones.”
“We are concerned that a large number of deadly heaters remain in caravans and RVs because owners have not yet contacted Coast to Coast for an inspection. Coast to Coast Caravan and Leisure has recalled these heaters due to the serious hazards they present. Owners should not take this issue lightly and act quickly,” Ms Rickard said.
Consumers can check if their heater is affected by opening the exterior access door to the hot water service and checking the model and serial number located on the right hand side. They should then enter the serial number at the Coast to Coast website.
“Anyone with an affected water heater should urgently contact Coast to Coast Caravan and Leisure on 02 9645 7685 who will arrange for a licensed gasfitter to inspect their water heater free of charge,” Ms Rickard said.
Consumers will not have to cover any costs related to the supply and installation of the new water heater, or any required associated work, such as the modification of cavity and gas and/or water lines.
Coast to Coast Caravan and Leisure will check every unit, after being contacted by consumers, to ensure the water heater is properly installed and if needed, will replace the unit through a licenced gasfitter free of charge.
Coast to Coast Caravan and Leisure notified a recall for Suburban Recreational Vehicle Water Heaters on 15 November 2019 due to their serious safety hazards. 18,139 heaters have been sold across all states and territories in Australia mostly installed in caravans and RVs via certain caravan and motorhome retailers.
Gas regulators have been working with Coast to Coast Caravan and Leisure to identify a suitable safe replacement water heater. Replacement models initially proposed by Suburban, the overseas manufacturer, also failed testing. A safe model was finally produced, and approved for use in July 2020.
Remediation could not commence until the GTRC was satisfied of the safety of the replacement units. The supplier then needed to import sufficient units from the US manufacturer, at a time when their supply chains were impacted by the pandemic situation.
The supplier advises stocks of replacement units are now in hand and they are keen to get remediation happening quickly. To date, only 210 units have been remediated or scheduled for inspection, and the supplier would like to encourage greater consumer response to the recall.
The affected products are the Suburban Recreational Vehicle Water Heaters with model numbers SW6DEA, SW6DA, SW4DEA, SW4DA, SW4DECA, SW6DECA and SW6PA that have serial numbers between 181315552 and 193002648 (some serial numbers may end with a 'D') and between 8183311827 and 8190201139. They were manufactured between 4 April 2018 and 1 August 2019.
The Office of the Technical Regulator (SA) is the responsible regulator for this product. It is a member of the Gas Technical Regulators Committee (GTRC). The GTRC is composed of gas technical and safety regulators across Australia and aims to apply a consistent regulatory approach to improve gas safety, measurement and quality.
More information is available at Product Safety Australia.
Release number: 253/20