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A Red-Tagged Furnace: What Homeowners Should Know

A Red-Tagged Furnace: What Homeowners Should KnowA red-tagged furnace is something that no homeowner ever wants to have. It’s a term that HVAC contractors or utility companies often use to describe a situation where the furnace heat exchanger has leaks or cracks. In most states, it’s illegal to operate a furnace in this condition. The technician who finds the crack will disable the furnace by capping the gas line to the furnace or shutting off the power to it. A leaking heat exchanger is dangerous because carbon monoxide from the combustion process can enter your home, creating a potentially deadly situation indoors.
Homeowners who learn that their furnace has a crack or breach have two options. The first is to replace the heat exchanger, and the second is to replace the entire furnace. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, it makes economic sense to replace the furnace. Replacing the heat exchanger can be expensive, and older, inefficient systems are not worth investing large amounts to repair. You basically have to make the same decision you would with a wrecked car: Is it worth repairing or would replacement make more economic sense?

It can take weeks to get a new heat exchanger, and during that time, you’ll either have to seek shelter elsewhere or use supplemental heaters to stay warm and keep your pipes from freezing. New heating systems are much more energy efficient, and the lower heating bills eventually should offset the initial cost of the equipment.

It can be difficult to diagnose cracks in a heat exchanger, and your best defense if you use combustion fuel in your home is to have a carbon monoxide detector installed on each level of your home at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances and at eye-level or higher.

The other way to avoid a red-tagged furnace is to have it maintained by an HVAC professional annually and keep the furnace filter clean. Dust blocks the flow of air through the furnace blower and makes the heat exchanger hotter than necessary, increasing metal fatigue.

If you would like more information about a red-tagged furnace, please contact us at Climate Control Company. We’ve provided quality HVAC services for Western Colorado since 1956 and can help you navigate the decision-making process for furnace repair or replacement.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Aspen, Vail and the surrounding Western slope communities in Colorado about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about red-tagged furnaces and other HVAC topics, please visit our website.     

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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