When your local HVAC professional inspects your furnace during a maintenance call, he is obligated to respond to any safety issues he finds. For this reason, an unexpected result of preventive maintenance might be a red-tagged furnace. If your furnace is red-tagged, it means that an HVAC or utility company inspector has found a critical safety problem, most often a cracked heat exchanger, and that the furnace must be shut down and not used until the problem is resolved.

If this happens to you, it’s only normal that you’d be angry and frustrated enough to see red. However, it’s important to remember that decisions to red-tag a furnace are not made randomly, especially during the winter. If your furnace has been red-tagged, the unit is dangerous to operate and should be taken seriously as a genuine threat to the lives of everyone in your home.

A cracked heat exchanger can let dangerous carbon monoxide gas leak into your living areas. Usually this substance is safely expelled through the furnace’s ventilation system, but a crack or hole in the heat exchanger lets it leak into your home before it can be vented. Humans cannot detect carbon monoxide, and in the right concentration, it can kill.

In most cases, heat exchangers must be completely replaced. This can be expensive, with new heat exchangers often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. The cost of replacing a heat exchanger may be more than that of replacing the entire furnace unit.

Consider replacing the exchanger if your furnace is under 10 years old, if the exchanger is covered under warranty, or if the repair costs less than 25 percent of total system replacement. Otherwise, a new furnace may be your best and safest option.

For 40 years, Acosta Heating & Cooling has been providing professional services to customers in Charlotte and surrounding areas. Contact us today for more information on how to handle a red-tagged furnace, and for expert advice on whether it’s better to replace a cracked heat exchanger or the entire system.