Sycom Surge Inc., a company based in Clearwater, Florida, knew as far back as 2016 about potential fire hazards associated with its Supco® Model SCM150 and Sycom® Model SYC-120/240-T2 surge protectors. These industrial products are supposed to protect a home from electrical surges and prevent fires. As Type 2 protectors, they go on the main breaker, and are commonly found outside near HVAC shut-offs, meter bases, and air conditioning/heating units.
Though they are no longer sold, these “light commercial” surge protectors have been linked to multiple house fires in North Carolina, including a recent one in the Cary area in December 2018.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global quality control organization, noted that these products did not meet internal safety standards in 2016 in a public notice. Despite that notice, and despite the company agreeing to voluntarily accept returned units, many units still remain on homes and businesses. The company could have recalled the products or notified property owners of the hazard, but failed to adequately do so.
According to Sycom Surge Inc., “grounding issues” are to blame for fires related to these surge protectors. They claim heat can build up in any surge device, and a high resistance to the ground contributes to these incidents. The products in question have a stated capacity for 100,000 AMPs of surge protection and a lifetime warranty. A diagnostic light on the surge protector should indicate if a ground is present. However, trying to blame the installer does not release the company from liability.
In just one North Carolina town, there have been five fires in four years due to these surge protectors. “We started kind of seeing these types of fires that occurred, specifically one that had some significant damage to a home. A fire that traveled up the vinyl siding of a home, and then eventually into the attic space, and eventually into the roof,” said Cary Fire Department Captain Scott Benninghoff.
Here are some safety tips for North Carolina homeowners and business owners to prevent fire-related injuries:
Though certain types of siding are resistant to fire, not all are. You may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. The National Fire Protection Association has found that on average, seven people die in the U.S. due to house fires every day, and a house fire starts every 88 seconds.
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Rhine Law Firm, P.C., has extensive experience recovering millions for clients with defective products. We are investigating property damage cases, as well as a consumer class action. So, if you believe you have a defective surge protector installed in your home or business, or if you have suffered a fire or property loss due to a defective surge protector, we invite you to call our Wilmington product liability lawyers at (910) 772-9960.
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