I might start red-tagging furnaces.  If Centerpoint Energy can do it, why can’t
I?  People take these red tags very
seriously.

The gas company will red-tag a furnace if they deem it
unsafe for use – this could be because of a high carbon monoxide reading in the
flue gas, backdrafting, a cracked heat exchanger, or many other
things.  Do you know what happens after a
furnace gets red-tagged? 

Nothing. 

The gas company won’t lock the gas off at the meter, they
won’t notify the gas gods, and no demerits are handed out. 

So what’s the point of the gas company ‘red-tagging’ a
furnace?  Their tags look
official, and people make the assumption that they’ll get in some type of
legal trouble if they turn on a furnace that has been red tagged.  The thought of legal trouble seems to be a
much bigger motivator than the possibility of injury or death, by
say, carbon monoxide poisoning.

As a perfect example, I once did a Saint Paul
Truth in Housing
evaluation for a family that was selling their house.  It was a cold January day, the entire family
was home during the middle of the day, and they had the oven running with the door
wide open.  They were using the oven to
heat their house. I told them that this was a serious safety hazard, and I
distinctly remember the mother telling me with a chuckle:

“We appreciate your concern, hon,
but we ain’t goin' anywhere.”

The woman obviously cared about
following the law because she hired me to perform the city inspection, but she
didn’t have much concern for her families’ safety.  That would have been a great time to pull out a red tag.  

I have to get some.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Minnesota Home Inspector

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About Reuben Saltzman

Reuben is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Sharlene has worked with Structure Tech since 2000 and Reuben has been contributing to her blog since 2008.

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