A furnace is almost always a background player for your home, keeping you warm in the cold winter months. It frequently isn't noticed until a malfunction appears.
One source could be that your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger. It can potentially be hazardous, so it’s critical to know the evidence of a cracked heat exchanger and what to do if you are worried that is the problem.
What Is a Heat Exchanger in a Furnace?
A heat exchanger transfers heat from the combustion chamber inside your furnace to the air that flows inside the ventilation. It generally handles this with coils or tubes that heat the air while functioning as a barrier to keep byproducts produced in the combustion chamber, called flue gasses, from getting out into your home.
Is a Cracked Heat Exchanger Dangerous?
Because of its central role, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a broken heat exchanger can be very dangerous. A damaged heat exchanger can permit dangerous gasses – including carbon monoxide, which can be lethal – to flow throughout your home.
For this reason, don't ever turn on your heating if you believe you're dealing with a cracked heat exchanger, as letting it run could make the whole family ill. Call an HVAC professional right away if you are worried your heater has a cracked heat exchanger that needs to be repaired.
Four Warning Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger:
- Furnace shuts off: A cracked heat exchanger could cause your furnace to switch off.
- Unusual Smells: If the air escaping your furnace has a powerful chemical odor, it might be an indicator that gas is slipping through cracks in your heat exchanger. These byproducts, which will often smell like formaldehyde, are a significant warning sign.
- Carbon monoxide alarm is triggered or you feel symptoms of poisoning: If a cracked heat exchanger is relieving carbon monoxide into your home, your carbon monoxide alarm may go off or family members might start experiencing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting or feeling sleepy. If the alarm goes off or you feel sick, leave the home immediately and then call for help.
- Soot: If you see black sooty buildup around the exterior of your furnace, it’s another sign something may be seriously wrong.
What You Should Do if Your Furnace Heat Exchanger is Cracked
If you worry your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, contact a professional with extensive experience in furnace installation East Bernard right away so they can inspect your system and, if needed, handle a furnace heat exchanger replacement. Costs often fluctuate depending on the situation, but estimates run in the neighborhood of $1,000 to $3,000.
However, the good news is that heat exchangers are regularly covered by the warranty. You’ll want to confirm the warranty paperwork on your furnace, because while the warranty won't always cover the entire cost of repairs, it still may significantly lower your bill.
How to Prevent a Cracked Heat Exchanger in Your Home
One of the most convenient ways to minimize the risk of problems in your furnace overall is via routine furnace maintenance. Furnaces offer the most benefits when they work efficiently. Hiring a skilled professional to check your furnace for worn-out parts, clogs in the air filters and other likely problems can keep you from getting a big bill later on.
It’s also beneficial to inspect your furnace filters every few months – it’s encouraged some filters be replaced every 90 days or sooner if they are dirty or grimy. While the filters aren't a part of the heat exchanger itself, the strain of pulling air through a clogged filter makes the entire furnace work harder to complete its job. And the harder your furnace has to work, the more deterioration pieces like the heat exchanger will experience.