How the Salt Lake CAP Weatherization Program Saves Lives

Weatherization crews often find that old furnaces are releasing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide into homes. Families are unaware that old furnaces contribute to carbon monoxide poisonings. The furnaces still appear to be working but the colorless, odorless gas is often seeping from a faulty furnace and can cause serious injury or even death. Last year a furnace installer from the Salt Lake Community Action Program visited a home in Magna to take some readings on an old furnace and begin the needed paperwork in order to replace it.

The single Mom and her three young children had struggled to stay warm with a furnace that was decades old. Mom often had to turn down the furnace very low because she could not pay her high utility bills. The previous year a worker from another agency had tested the furnace and said the CO levels were a little high but not dangerous. Our installer tested the furnace and found that the CO levels were at 2000 parts per million; 50 ppm is considered high. He immediately got the furnace shut down and began airing out the home.

This family was being exposed to potentially life threatening levels of CO every day. The Community Action Program was able to rush the furnace replacement and complete the installment in 24 hours. Mom cried and hugged the installer as he left. She was grateful the Weatherization program was there to save her and her children.


Newer furnaces are lasting 15-20 years. Old furnaces are lasting 60 years and often lack what is termed a “safe failure.” When a product stops working properly it should fail safely and without experiencing malfunctions that may endanger the public. Older furnaces frequently lack a safe failure, releasing dangerous carbon monoxide into the home. Old water heaters can also fail causing fires, and floods.

Besides being safer, new furnaces are 30% more energy efficient on average. For example: an older furnace may use only 30% of the fuel it takes to create heat and the rest is lost because of inefficiencies. New furnaces average 90% use of fuel resource. Imagine how much money you can save by replacing an old furnace.


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