Red-Tagged Furnace or Water Heater? Now What?

Red-Tagged Furnace or Water Heater? Now What? Learning that you have a red-tagged furnace or water heater isn’t good news because it usually means that the appliance isn’t safe to operate. For example, gas furnaces can develop cracks in the heat exchanger that can emit carbon monoxide (CO) into your home’s air supply. while a water heater that’s not venting properly can do the same. CO is a serious health hazard because it can be lethal with prolonged or heavy exposure.

When a plumber or HVAC contractor finds a crack in your furnace’s heat exchanger, he will inspect it closely, often with a CO meter, to measure the amount of this gas in the air. If the crack extends all the way through the heat exchanger, the furnace will have to be shut down until it’s repaired or replaced. A common issue with water heaters that results in red-tagging is installation in a space without enough ventilation, or venting pipes that don’t slope sufficiently upward. The purposeful disabling of the water heater of furnace is called red-tagging, whether an actual red tag is used or a document signifying the same thing is left with the homeowner. If either appliance isn’t operating safely, the technician is obligated to disable it.

Typically, two types of red-tagging occur. The first is called the A-tag, and it’s the most serious. The equipment has to be immediately disabled. The second type, a B-tag, gives you a little more time before the gas company shuts the service off for that appliance. You’ll have to show proof of repair or replacement to keep the gas line open.

Problems that grow over time can cause a red-tagged furnace, and lack of maintenance is often the culprit. Running a furnace with a dirty air filter will build a layer of dust over the heat exchanger, hastening metal fatigue. This fatigue can crack the metal, and if the crack goes all the way through, the combustion gases may enter your home’s air supply.

Repairing a furnace with a defective heat exchanger is seldom cost effective because the labor costs are likely to be high, even if a replacement part is available. Most of the time, it makes more sense to replace the appliance with a new one that offers much better efficiency and lower heating bills. With your water heater, on the other hand, addressing a problem with ventilation is often as simple as removing the door to the small room where the appliance is located, or making some simple fixes to the venting pipes.

The experts at Powers Heating & Air can help you learn more about a red-tagged furnace. We’ve provided HVAC services for homeowners in the Peachtree City area since 2001.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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