Michigan's attorney general is threatening to file a lawsuit against a manufacturer of plastic dip tubes used in water heaters, but is meeting with the company to try to resolve the problem.
The state delivered a notice of action April 14 to Madison, Ohio-based Perfection Corp. and four water heater manufacturers that use the polypropylene parts.
Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm claimed the dip tubes, used to improve water heater efficiency, were wearing out long before the warranty on the water heater expired.
She further alleges that Perfection, as well as Rheem Manufacturing Co. of New York, American Water Heater Co. of Johnson City, Tenn., A.O. Smith Corp. of Milwaukee, and Bradford-White Corp. of Ambler, Pa., knew of the defect but did not take the parts, made between 1993 and 1996, off the market.
However, Frank Volgstadt, Perfection's vice president of research, codes and standards, said the company has honored more than 14,000 claims on faulty dip tubes since 1993.
In 1993, Perfection began compounding its own resin pellets, rather than continue to buy pre-compounded pellets, he said.
When the company discovered its compounding process could be causing problems with the dip tubes, it resumed buying pre-compounded pellets in 1996.
That same year, Volgstadt claims Perfection replaced all unused dip tubes on the market.
Granholm alleges the dip tubes that were used in that time have been breaking off inside the water heater, slowing the flow of cold water into the heaters. Some tubes have deteriorated, causing sludge to build up, a spokesman for the attorney general said.
Volgstadt said a faulty dip tube could not cause sludge build up.
Granholm will meet with the five companies to try to resolve the problem, the attorney general's spokesman said.
``As long as discussions are moving forward, we will hold off filing suit,'' he said.