Consumer Product Safety

NITE Alert_55

December 9, 2002

Alert - Accidents caused by de-icing devices

The National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE) has received 16 accident reports of fire breakouts while using de-icing devices (*1).
In an effort to prevent similar accidents, NITE posted “NITE Alert No.45" on November 28, 2001. Fortunately, no accidents involving de-icing devices were reported in FY2001. However, there is information that similar products are scheduled to be marketed to consumers this fiscal year. While manufacturers have clearly indicated the following handling precautions on the products, NITE is also re-issuing this safety alert to promote the proper use of de-icing devices.

  1. (*1)A “De-icing device" is a machine that applies current to generate heat and thaw frozen water pipes

1. Accident details

Fire broke out after or during the use of de-icing devices to thaw frozen pipes, which partially or completely destroyed residential houses.

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2. Cause of Accident

NITE confirmed that when flexible stainless steel tubes (*) are used in between iron water pipes, the tube can generate heat at specific points due to differences in electrical resistance. Under certain conditions, the temperature can rise above 400 degrees Celsius and cause fire.

  1. (*2)A “Flexible tube" is a flexible accordion like tube which is mainly used for connecting water pipes to other parts, such as faucets, etc.

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3. Alert

As the accidents happened in cases where materials with high electrical resistance, such as flexible stainless steel tubes, were used between water pipes, it is important to follow the steps below:

  1. (1) Do not use a de-icing device unless you can confirm that stainless steel flexible tubes that may overheat have not been used in water piping.
  2. (2) Be fully aware of the risks of using a de-icing device, because even when flexible tubes are not used in water piping, localized overheating can still occur if there are points with high resistance values.
  3. (3) Carefully read handling manuals and safety warnings on the product and use it properly.
If you have already purchased a de-icing device, we advise you to contact the manufacturer or importer to reconfirm safe use methods for the product.

Fore more information;
National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE)
Product Safety Technology Center, Product Safety Investigation Division

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