As temperatures soar and the official start of summer gets closer (this Saturday, in fact), keeping cool has never been more important. Thanks to air conditioning, it’s also never been easier.
When the coils become porous or crack, coolant can allegedly leak out, turning the air conditioner into nothing but a glorified fan.
For customers of Rheem Manufacturing, though, this summer could be stickier than they’d planned. The company is facing a class action claiming its air conditioning (AC) units contain defective evaporator coils – a problem that allegedly renders the AC units ineffective and leaves consumers sweating in more ways than one.
Rheem’s not the first heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) manufacturer to face this allegation. Goodman Manufacturing Co. is also facing claims that it sold air conditioning units with defective coils. In both cases, the companies are accused of using a highly corrosive copper to make the evaporator coils. When the coils become porous or crack, coolant can allegedly leak out, turning the air conditioner into nothing but a glorified fan. Without coolant, the suits point out, the air blown out of an AC unit is nothing but hot air.
It’s a problem that’s sure to leave Rheem customers frustrated – especially as the suit claims that Rheem was told about the problem by consumers, but only offered compensation for broken parts – and not labor. Some customers, whose warranties had expired, reportedly paid as much as $2,000 for labor costs to fix their broken units. The company also knew about the defect, the suit says:
“Despite being aware of the susceptibility of copper coils to formicary corrosion, the increasing incidence of formicary corrosion, and the available remedies at its disposal, Rheem continued to design and manufacture its ACs using copper evaporator coils, and fix failed Coils with similarly defective Coils. Rheem failed to take any of the known steps that are available to reduce the susceptibility of the copper in the Rheem Coils to formicary corrosion.”
The complaint adds that:
“Rheem Coils are defective because they are manufactured with materials that, within the industry, are well known to be prone to formicary corrosion, which makes the Rheem Coils unreasonably susceptible to premature rupture and refrigerant leaks under normal use and conditions.”
The class action has been filed on behalf of all U.S. residents who purchased a Rheem ACs for personal or home use, and all those who paid to replace an evaporator coil in a Rheem AC unit. As part of the suit, attorneys are asking Rheem to replace the coil in class members’ ACs with a non-copper coil, to pay for inspections to determine if any further replacements are needed, and to notify all Rheem AC owners about the alleged defect.
It’s not a good time to have a broken AC unit. Unfortunately, it’s possible that the problem with evaporator coils may be pretty widespread, as other brands - including Goodman, Amana, Gemaire, Maytag, Frigidaire, and Nordyne – may also have faulty evaporator coils.
Here’s hoping for a few more cloudy days.