You Have A Red Tag Furnace. Now What?

If you have a “red tag furnace”, the key thing to know is that it’s because your furnace is unsafe and needs to be either repaired or replaced. The technician often has no choice: the law requires a red tag if the furnace is a danger to you, your family, your home and sometimes even your neighbours too.

While furnaces keep us warm in winter, there are two main hazards of improperly maintained furnaces that pose an immediate danger to your family.

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  1. Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is colourless, odourless, and deadly. Because you cannot detect it, it has been called “the silent killer”. Every year people die from carbon monoxide poisoning. They simply fall asleep and never wake up again.
  2. Fire or explosion. Natural gas is a fossil fuel. It burns, and if ignited under pressure can explode.

A gas furnace kept in good repair is very safe. And most people nowadays know that Ontario law requires that they have a carbon monoxide alarm in their home. But sometimes someone doesn’t know about good furnace maintenance, and the furnace red tag program kicks in. Your gas company is notified and your gas supply is turned off until the furnace is made safe.

What to Do if Your Furnace is Red Tagged

1. Do Not Use the Furnace

The first and most crucial step is to cease using the furnace immediately. Continued operation poses severe risks to occupants and property.

2. Contact Dr HVAC

Reach out to Dr HVAC or another certified gas technician to assess the situation. They will conduct a thorough inspection to determine the cause of the red tag.

3. Address the Issues

Based on the technician’s assessment, necessary repairs or replacements must be carried out to rectify the safety concerns. This may involve fixing ventilation, repairing gas lines, or even replacing the furnace.

4. Obtain a Clearance Certificate

Once the necessary repairs have been made, the licensed technician will issue a clearance certificate, indicating that the furnace is now safe for use.

5. Inform the Local Authorities

Depending on local regulations, you may be required to inform the relevant authorities about the red tag and the subsequent steps taken to rectify the issue.

6. Schedule Regular Maintenance

To prevent future red tags and ensure the ongoing safety of your furnace, schedule regular furnace maintenance with a licensed technician.

In Ontario, red-tagging is a critical safety measure to protect occupants from potential hazards associated with a malfunctioning furnace. It is imperative to address the issue promptly, ensuring the safe operation of your heating system. By understanding the significance of a red tag and taking the appropriate steps, you can safeguard the well-being of your household. Always consult with licensed professionals for any furnace-related concerns.

Types of Red Tags

There are two types of red tags, each with a different severity.

Red Tag Type A

This is the most serious type. It means you and your family are in serious danger right now. Generally this means that a carbon monoxide leak has been detected. With a Type A tag, the gas company is called right away and your gas is shut off.

Red Tag Type B

This is a warning tag. Your gas is not shut off right away, but you need to get your furnace fixed within the stated time period or else your gas will be shut off.

Reasons for Being Red Tagged

If the furnace was not installed correctly or does not meet the required safety standards, it may receive a red tag.

Inadequate ventilation can lead to a buildup of harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, which poses significant health risks.

Any sign of a gas leak is a serious concern and warrants immediate attention. Gas leaks can lead to explosions or fires.

Issues with the combustion process can lead to the release of harmful byproducts, making the furnace unsafe for operation.

A cracked heat exchanger can lead to the release of carbon monoxide, a colourless and odourless gas that is extremely dangerous.

Understanding the Red Tag System

Safety Concerns

A red tag is affixed to a furnace when a licensed gas technician identifies safety hazards during an inspection. These hazards could range from gas leaks and faulty ventilation to combustion issues. The primary objective is to prevent any potential harm or danger to the occupants.

Legal Requirement

In Ontario, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) governs the safety of fuel-burning appliances, including furnaces. A red tag is a legal declaration that the furnace is not compliant with the established safety codes and regulations.

Prohibition of Use

Once a red tag is issued, it is illegal and potentially dangerous to continue using the furnace. The tag serves as an immediate cease-use order to protect the occupants and the property.

Who Runs the Red Tag Program

A red tag is issued when any furnace, water heater or other natural gas appliance is in violation of Ontario Gas Installation Code B149. The program is controlled by the TSSA – Technical Standards Safety Authority.

While red tagging may seem unfair at first, it’s done in the interest of saving lives.

Are All Red Tags for Real?

They are supposed to be, but some companies that we’ve heard of issue red tags to get extra work making “repairs” that aren’t needed. If your furnace has been red tagged, call in the experts at Dr HVAC for a second opinion. We will assess the situation and let you know what your options are.

How to Prevent Red Tagging

As “boring” as this may sound, your best defence is good old fashioned maintenance. While our technology may seem like magic sometimes, it’s not. It works hard and experiences wear and tear. Just like your car or your teeth, your furnace and water heater need regular inspection, cleaning and a check.

The Good News

Dr HVAC can provide an honest assessment of what’s really wrong with your furnace. If the red tag is for real, we can provide cost-effective and expert service. We’ll give you advice on what to do about your furnace, and we will outline the costs and benefits of all the options available.

Ask for your second opinion today. There’s no obligation and you’ll love our honest, no-pressure approach.