If you heat with gas, learning that you have a cracked heat exchanger in your furnace demands your immediate attention. The burners inside the furnace lie below or beside the heat exchanger, and the metal piece does get hot. The blower fan turns on when the heat exchanger reaches a certain temperature and air passing over it collects the heat from the part, which then warms your home.
Given the proximity to the burner, there’s a possibility that some of the combustion gases can escape into your home’s air supply when the heat exchanger has a crack. Combustion gases include carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, invisible gas that is lethal in sufficient quantities.
An HVAC expert can evaluate the situation and let you know how serious the crack is and whether it presents a danger. If the cracked heat exchanger presents a risk, the HVAC professional likely will red-tag your furnace, disabling it. If your cracked heat exchanger does result in its being red-tagged, you’ll have to decide whether to repair or replace it. This decision likely will depend in large part on how new your furnace is, and whether it’s under warranty.
Routine maintenance is the best way to avoid problems with the heat exchanger. When dirt clogs the furnace filter, it slows the flow of air, keeping the exchanger hot longer, which contributes to metal fatigue. Lack of professional maintenance allows dirt to build up inside the furnace, which also hastens metal fatigue. Furnaces that are older are also vulnerable to cracks.
If you have a combustion furnace in your home, the best thing you can do, besides changing the filters and having it professionally maintained once a year, is to install one or more CO detectors, preferably models that provide intermittent readouts of CO levels indoors. These are generally hard-wired units and you can track the amount of CO in your home before and after the furnace runs. If levels climb when the heating system is running, contacting an HVAC expert quickly may help you avert a serious safety hazard.
To learn more about a cracked heat exchanger or have your system evaluated, please contact us at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal. We’ve provided quality HVAC services for northwest Arkansas for more than 40 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Northwest Arkansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heater exchange maintenance and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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