Fire raises new fears in the area

n Local homeowners     urged to check for     recalls on air handling units to prevent fires


by Jim Boyle


An Otsego family has been displaced by a house fire, and area families are being warned the same thing could happen to them.

The Elk River Fire Department was called to the 8100 block of Padgett Avenue at 8 p.m. on Oct. 8 on a report of a fire in a utility room.

They arrived and extinguished the blaze. The fire was contained to the basement level, but smoke damage was done throughout the home, according to Elk River Fire Chief John Cunningham.

Photo by Jim Boyle One of the few visible signs of fire on exterior of the Otsego home damaged by fire.
Photo by Jim Boyle
One of the few visible signs of fire on exterior of the Otsego home damaged by fire.

The cause of the fire has been ruled a malfunctioning air exchange unit, Cunningham said. It’s possible that the unit had been recalled, but Cunningham said he couldn’t confirm that. Either way, he said, the fire serves as a reminder to homeowners check for appliance recalls.

The City of Otsego has  issued a press release to alert homeowners of a voluntary recall of heat recovery ventilators.

Certain heat recovery ventilation (HRV) units manufactured by Venmar Ventilation Inc. may be at risk of fire, according to the manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The thermal protector in the motors of these systems may fail and pose a potential fire hazard. If a HRV overheats and starts on fire, it can spread to other nearby combustibles and cause substantial damage to the home (and adjacent homes) and put occupants at risk.

While Venmar Ventilation Inc. manufactured these models, to date, the affected units were identified with the following brand names produced and installed between 1983 and 2001 and between October 2006 and August 2007:

•Aston Payne

•Broan/Guardian By Broan PrepAir

•Bryant Protech

•Carrier Rheem

•Conformax Ruud

•Day & Night Sears

•Flair Vane

•Heil vanEE Brand

•Husch Venmar/ Venmar AVS / Venmar Klima

•NuTone Weatherking

•York Brand (standard model)

HRVs are installed in many homes as part of the heating, cooling and ventilation systems and are designed to remove moist, stale air from homes and provide replacement fresh air from outside.

The HRV is a metal box usually located close to the ceiling in the furnace room that is connected to several air ducts and typically supplied by a common electrical plug. Residents are encouraged to do an inspection of their heating, cooling and ventilation system to determine if there is an HRV, and if the home does have an HRV, identify the make and model of the system and call the phone number below to determine if the HRV is recalled. Residents with a recalled HRV should immediately turn off and unplug the unit and contact Venmar Ventilation Inc. to receive instructions on how to participate in the recall program.

Venmar Ventilation Inc. is providing a free electric plug adaptor for residents to use with their unit, which will not stop the unit from overheating but is designed to shut power off to the unit if it does overheat.

Residents with HRV units manufactured by Venmar Ventilation Inc. and installed during the periods identified above should immediately turn off and unplug the HRV and then contact the manufacturer at 866.441.4656 or at to confirm if the specific unit is affected.