Dealing With A Red-Tagged Furnace? Learn How To Explore Your Options

After learning that you have a “red-tagged” (intentionally disabled) furnace, the HVAC contractor or gas provider’s representative has probably told you that you have a safety issue that needs immediate attention.This issue often refers to a faulty heat exchanger, the heart of any gas furnace. In this case, you’ll either have to replace the heat exchanger or the entire furnace. Heat exchangers are made from metal and over time the metal can get brittle and crack. Carbon monoxide (CO) may escape through the cracks, making it exceptionally hazardous for you to run your furnace. A red-tagged furnace has to be disabled because of the health ramifications of breathing CO.Most of the time serious cracks occur in older furnaces, and it doesn’t make financial sense, in most cases, to replace the heat exchanger. In some ways, it’s like being faced with replacing an engine in an old car. Is it really worth it? It can take weeks to get the replacement heat exchanger, and the labor costs for the repair are likely to be high. Being without heat during a Midwestern winter isn’t good for either you or your home.

Premature cracks in a heat exchanger are often the result of dirty filters, lack of air flow or inadequate furnace maintenance. When filters get dirty, the airflow through the blower slows and the heat exchanger stays hotter than it should. The heat exchanger sits beside or on top of the burner and collects the heat the fuel creates. Lack of routine maintenance may also mean that the heat exchanger is covered with dust, another impediment to efficient home heating that will shorten the life of the heat exchanger.

HVAC technicians diagnose the cracks using visual inspection, combustion analysis, water testing of the heat exchanger, or by inspecting the quality of the flame in the burner when the blower turns on. Flames that waver or change color can indicate problems exist.

One way you can monitor the safe combustion operation of your furnace is to have a hard-wired CO detector with a battery back up installed on each level in your home that provides a readout of CO levels intermittently. The carbon monoxide detector will alert you audibly and provide the level of CO concentration for the monituring of the situation. Call 911 immediately and leave the home if the detector is sounding or displaying a high concentration of CO.

If you’d like more information about a red-tagged furnace and prevention, please contact us at Overland Park Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided top-notch HVAC services for greater Kansas City since 1983.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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