BLUNDERING housing chiefs are removing electric heaters they installed in homes after claims they are a safety risk.
The heaters were installed in the bathrooms at homes in The Lonnen, South Shields, in recent weeks – despite the instruction manuals clearly stating they must not be used in high-humidity areas.
I think the man who raised this has to be commended as he has possibly prevented an accident from happening.Coun George Elsom
South Tyneside Homes has already removed and replaced one unit and aims to fit replacement heaters at the other houses which will be more suitable for use in bathrooms.
The organisation, which looks after 19,000 council houses in South Tyneside, would not say how many homes are affected or how much the work will cost.
The alarm was raised by Jamie Luther after he read the instruction leaflet following a convector heater being installed at his mother Margaret Anderson’s home.
The booklet says “This unit MUST NOT be installed in a bathroom or other similar high humidity area.”
He said: “This was a safety issue. After reading the instructions I got in touch with the company which made them and they said the heaters should not be placed in bathrooms.
“Yet someone, somewhere, at the council must have approved them.”
The heaters had been fitted to bungalows in the Lonnen, South Shields, undergoing a revamp as part of the council’s Decent Homes Programme.
This includes a mix of kitchen and bathroom rewiring and heating work.
Mr Luther’s diligence has been praised by Cleadon Park Coun George Elsom, who says the heaters should never have been installed in the first place.
He says he now fears the heaters could now be used where they may not be the best option as a way of getting rid of them.
Coun Elsom said: “This should have all been checked before the heaters were ordered to ensure they would be suitable for the area they were intended for.
“I have had an e-mail about this issue. However, I don’t know how many have been installed and now need to be removed.
“Someone should have checked all of this before they were ordered.
“The fitting of them and now their removal has just been a waste of time and money.
“Now they are surplus. They are going to have to use them somewhere. My concern would be if they will be used because they are the best option or because they are now surplus stock.
“I think the man who raised this has to be commended as he has possibly prevented an accident from happening.”
A South Tyneside Homes spokeswoman said: “The customer has highlighted a potential issue with the suitability of the wall-mounted fan convectors currently being installed on the estate.
“South Tyneside Homes has taken immediate action and the unit at this property has already been removed and replaced.
“Furthermore, we will be visiting all of the affected properties in the area to isolate the heaters and fit replacement heaters that will be more suitable for the bathrooms.
“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”