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Carolina Climate Control Blog

The Cracked Heat Exchanger—A Major Furnace Problem!


Gas furnaces are still the most common type of central heating system found in homes, although heat pumps are gaining in popularity. One reason some people feel reluctant to have a gas furnace installed is because of potential safety problems. Any gas-powered appliance can become hazardous, but gas furnaces are built to high standards and with numerous safety mechanisms to make them as safe as possible. If you have your gas furnace regularly maintained and you call for heating repair in North Charleston, SC with professionals when the furnace malfunctions, you can expect your furnace to have a long, safe service life.

However, furnace problems can still crop up—and one furnace issue that can become a safety hazard is a cracked heat exchanger. We’ll explain what this is and why you need to take action when it occurs.

The Job of the Heat Exchanger

A furnace’s heat exchanger is a critical component responsible for transferring the heat generated by the combustion process into the air that circulates throughout your home. It ensures that the heat produced is effectively and safely delivered to the living spaces. 

Hot combustion gas enters the metal chamber of the heat exchanger and raises the temperature of the walls. The air from the blower fan moves around the exchanger and picks up the heat. When the heating cycle is over, the remaining combustion gas in the exchanger gets vented safely from the home through the furnace’s flue.

Cracks in the Heat Exchanger

Although heat exchangers are built from durable materials, they can develop cracks because of corrosion. The reaction between combustion vapor and the metal of the exchanger can lead to corrosion, especially if the furnace isn’t venting properly. Age can also lead to the effects of corrosion. The weakened metal may then start to develop cracks as the exchanger expands and contracts with heat.

The Danger of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

A cracked heat exchanger in a furnace is dangerous because it can lead to the release of the gases in the exchanger, including carbon monoxide (CO), into the air that’s getting sent to the rooms in the house. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is highly toxic and can be fatal in high concentrations. The cracks on an exchanger may look small, but when the metal expands from heat, these cracks can open wide enough to allow the dangerous gases to escape.

Preventing Dangers From a Cracked Heat Exchanger

Regular professional maintenance, as usual, is the best way to prevent future repair problems with a furnace. Maintenance is extremely important when it comes to cracked heat exchangers: during maintenance, technicians will always carefully inspect the heat exchanger to look for signs of cracks or corrosion.

They’ll also measure the draft of the furnace to ensure exhaust gas is venting properly and perform a combustion check to locate any gas leaks. When you arrange for annual maintenance for your furnace, you’ll get an early warning if the heat exchanger needs to be replaced because of cracks.

Contact Carolina Climate Control when you need furnace repairs. The Moose Is Loose in Your Neighborhood! 

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