Leaky Refrigerators Could Cost Company Millions

Leak testing methods

Every day, we use air conditioners, heating systems, automobiles and more to make our lives easier and more comfortable. But while these implements have become integral to our routines, a problem with these devices could put our families, our homes, and ourselves at serious risk of harm. For this reason, many manufacturing companies use a variety of different leak testing methods to prevent damaged products from causing serious problems. Whether a company decides to use vacuum leak detection equipment or another type of leak test, this method is the best way to ensure that various quality standards are being met. In a world where a number of recalls and class action lawsuits have targeted even the most commonly-used products, this ability should not be underestimated.

Take Norcold brand refrigerators, for example: the company and their parent company, Dyson-Kissner-Moran, are currently facing several lawsuits and a class-action settlement after numerous allegations that the pipes in their refrigerators leak, creating a potentially explosive mixture of hydrogen and ammonia. The refrigerators, which are typically used in recreational vehicles and mobile homes, have reportedly caused several fires and at least one death; in one cause, a couple in their 80s lost all of their possessions after their refrigerator set their trailer aflame. Norcold denies that their products are defective, but the company has issued a number of recalls over the last several years and has handled several thousand claims made by customers since the late 1990s.

According to a forensic engineer working in one of several lawsuits pending against the companies, the problem is caused by a design flaw: the refrigerators not only contain a metal tube that easily crack, allowing flammable substances to escape, but also a welding issue that increases the likelihood of leaks. While hindsight is 20/20, it is possible that this problem might have been avoided had Norcold invested in leak testing services, such as vacuum leak detection equipment or even custom tests. Instead, the company is now facing a $33 million settlement, in addition to several other civil suits. This situation is a learning opportunity for many manufacturers and businesses: ensuring that your products can prevent serious financial losses down the road, as well as protect your reputation from irreparable harm.