Reuben Saltzman

Is Legal Trouble Worse Than Death?

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?


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 that she appreciated my concern, but she wasn’t going anywhere.

I think a red tag would have helped.

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

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