Sears and a carbon monoxide leak

Seven On Your Side
September 24, 2011 8:49:32 AM PDT
Michelle Kent believes she and her 6 year old Ryan are lucky to be alive.

Last month, she called Sears to replace an aging boiler. A sales rep came out and sold her a new one for nearly 9 grand, but just days after installing it the unit shut down and Michelle wasn't well.

"I had excessive headaches. I had abdominal cramps," said Kent.

Her son was lethargic, even their cat became severely ill and had to visit the vet.

As a mother it was one of the scariest things for her. She now thinks her family was suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

The house uses liquid propane and the salesman checked off "LP" on the original order sheet, but instead of converting the unit for propane, the Sears installer fitted it for natural gas and even checked it off on the invoice.

"You expect a professional to do the right thing," said Kent. "Especially when everything is labeled danger, carbon monoxide poisoning."

So Michelle called out the original installer. He got her unit running and then left.

She says a service technician came back 5 minutes later after driving through her neighborhood and noticing that other homes had propane, not natural gas hook-ups. He shut the unit down.

"He was very concerned, and his reaction was this has to be turned off immediately. There could be carbon monoxide poisoning as a result," said Kent.

He realized carbon was what had backed up the system.

Her carbon monoxide detectors never went off, but she went to the emergency room with her son as a precaution. Both got a clean bill of health.

Sears apologized for Kent's inconvenience, and never admitted it was responsible for a carbon monoxide leak.

A rep for Dunkirk, the unit's manufacturer, said this type of problem "could" cause a back up of harmful carbon monoxide gas and that low levels might not set off detectors.

A team of Sears managers showed up to personally oversee technicians hauling away the old unit and installing a new upgraded propane boiler. The retail giant also offered to pay for an independent contractor to check the unit, all medical expenses, even footing and even the cat's vet bill.