Generator installations may pose safety risks

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 has uncovered a frightening consumer alert, which puts your entire home and family in danger. Chesterfield County said one company has been installing whole-house generators in a way that could cause electrocution, fire or explosions.

County officials need the public's help to find out just how widespread the problem is because for the most part the company in question never applied for the required permits. Now, they maintain anyone who used Virginia Air Mechanical could be in danger.

After months of natural disasters, Paul Wilson decided to invest in a whole-house generator and paid Virginia Air Mechanical $6500 to install it. But two months later, a Chesterfield County building inspector told him he didn't get what he paid for.

"When I purchased the generator it was all inclusive: all permits, all licenses, whatever was required and I was told it was done," he explained.

Two long lists of safety hazards detail deficiencies including improper tubing size, lines that aren't sealed safely, panels that need to be moved and the biggest one being a device that isn't installed in a safe place. It is supposed to be 36 inches from anything. NBC12 measured and that wasn't the case for Wilson's generator.

"So now I have a $6,000 paperweight sitting in my damn yard because I can't use it," he exclaimed. "It is not legally safe to use."

We're told the company hasn't cooperated with Wilson or the county. Now officials are trying to get the word out because the problem could be county-wide.

"We don't want a catastrophe to happen because someone had a generator put in improperly," explained Building Official Rick Witt.

The county is seeking an injunction against the company to get installation records in order to review those homes. If you're one of these customers, call 748-1779.

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