Worksafe: Popular bathroom heater is serious fire risk

by Peter Newport - Apr 21, 2024

A Crux reader is concerned that many people in the Southern Lakes and Central Otago districts are not aware of the safety risk posed by a popular brand of bathroom heater - Serene.

The reader says many units at the Bullendale development in Arthurs Point have the Serene heaters fitted. Crux is also aware of many other similar units having been installed in local new house and apartment builds. 

The recall affects multiple models of Serene heaters manufactured over different date ranges

WorkSafe is extending its ban on the Serene brand of bathroom heaters because they failed to meet safety requirements.

Here is the full detail of the models and dates affected.

In February, the workplace health and safety regulator issued a prohibition on the sale and use of the Serene S2068 heaters after at least 15 fires or overheating events linked to the product.

"There is a significant risk of people being seriously harmed or property being damaged through use of these [S2068 unit] heaters."

On Wednesday this week, WorkSafe said it was extending this ban to the S207T and S2069 models.

This applies to all units imported, sold, or installed since June 2018 for the S2069 units, and since January 2018 for the S207T units.

The Serene S2068 heater has been linked to more than a dozen incidents.

"Testing has found these heaters are non-compliant with safety standards," WorkSafe said.

"More recently, events have occurred outside the previously prohibited serial number range."

It was investigating a reported fire associated with one of the Serene S2069 units.

While S207T heaters were also non-compliant, WorkSafe said there was a low risk they may be unsafe and they were not aware of any fires or overheating events with these heaters.

The manufacturer of this heater closed their business in New Zealand, which means the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has had to work directly with several retailers to issue voluntary recall notices.

What to do if you have a bathroom heater in your home

WorkSafe advises people to check the make and model of the heater in their bathroom.

"If your heater is a Serene model S2068, do not use it. If you cannot unplug it from a wall socket, you should arrange for removal by an electrician.

"If your heater is a Serene model S207T or S2069, Energy Safety considers there is a low risk from continued use. However, if you observe an unusual smell or noise from the heater, do not use it and contact an electrical worker to check it over."

Where a product is not of acceptable quality, a consumer has the right to a refund, repair, or replacement under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

"MBIE recommends that consumers who have the S2068 contact the business they purchased it from to arrange for its return under the CGA. Consumers who have the S2069 or S207T and are concerned may also wish to contact the supplier to seek a remedy under the CGA."

WorkSafe said it was working with MBIE to contact known suppliers.

MBIE consumer services national manager Simon Gallagher said the ministry was aware of the issues found with the Serene appliances and was working with the retailers of these products.

"As part of this work, MBIE is encouraging these retailers to undertake a voluntary recall."

Additional reporting from RNZ.

Support Crux Support Crux