If you are like some homeowners that don’t have experience in furnace workings and repairs, its innards might be a mystery. Additionally, your experience with the furnace, heating, and air conditioning system might only be limited to the vents that blow conditioned air into your home. Unfortunately, when they fail, some homeowners only think about the hidden parts of their heating and air conditioning system, such as the heat exchanger. However, it is recommended that you enlist a heating and AC repair company for routine maintenance of your furnace or heating and air conditioning system. The consequences are dire if the heat exchanger in your furnace is cracked. The furnace might start producing strange odors and sounds. This article will teach you more about them and their role in properly heating your home.
Basics of a Furnace or HVAC Heat Exchanger
Gas furnaces generate heat through combustion. They convert fuel into heat and gas. If there is incomplete combustion, the resulting gases are highly toxic. However, the heat produced in this combustion process is critical in ensuring your home is warm during cold winters. The heat exchanger carries out the important role of ensuring that toxic gases don’t leak into your home. Heat exchangers contain a metallic tube that allows a furnace’s hot gases to flow via the exchanger and into the chimney. However, the flue/chimney might develop issues that require the attention of a heating and AC repair technician, such as clogging. Hence, you should ensure that it is clean and devoid of any blockages.
What Does a Heat Exchanger Do?
The heat exchanger prevents the flue gases produced in the furnace from contaminating the air flowing into your home. It is naturally important for the heat exchanger’s metal tubing to be airtight and unbroken. Damage, faulty combustion, and corrosion can result in your heat exchanger cracking. Whenever the heat exchanger is cracked, the flue gases may escape from the tubes and mix with the air flowing to different rooms of your home. To avert this, ensure your furnace is regularly inspected and serviced by an experienced heating and AC repair technician.
Signs That the Heat Exchanger Is Cracked
Whenever the flue gases escape via the cracked furnace exchanger and flow through the air ducts, they might result in a foul odor. Additionally, if the cracks were the cause of the incomplete combustion, then soot might start building up within the furnace, leaving the unit via the heating vents and staining your walls, furniture, and art. A furnace with a cracked heat exchanger might start producing noises as the heat expands the crack and gases flow through it. The main noises produced by a cracked heat exchanger are thunks and rattles.
Whenever you hear either of these sounds followed by an increase in energy use, you should hire a heating and AC repair technician to inspect the furnace and fix any issues present. Remember that some flue gases that are produced by incomplete combustion in the furnace, such as carbon monoxide, are deadly. Hence, if you notice either of the signs above, you should close the unit and immediately call a professional to inspect and repair any issue.
What Are the Impacts of a Cracked HVAC Heat Exchanger
Poses a Fire Hazard and Explosions
If your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, it threatens everyone in your home. Therefore, you should turn it off and immediately call a heating and AC repair technician for further inspection. To begin with, cracked heating and air conditioning systems or furnace heat exchangers pose a risk of death caused by inhaling toxic fumes. It also is a fire hazard waiting to happen. The furnace’s safe operation depends on the carefully controlled environment of the combustion chamber. A precise mixture of fuel and air is introduced to ensure that the fuel burns to produce heat without damaging the furnace. Unfortunately, cracked heat exchangers disturb this controlled mixture, leading to a potential explosion that destroys or damages the furnace and even sets your home on fire.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
This is the most insidious impact of a furnace-cracked heat exchanger. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. This means you might only notice it once you start suffering symptoms like confusion, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. This gas prevents the blood from delivering enough oxygen to your body or brain. The resultant confusion and loss of consciousness may prevent you from leaving your home even after symptoms become apparent. Inhaling carbon monoxide can permanently damage your brain or even cause death. You can prevent all this by having a heating and AC repair technician come for routine furnace maintenance and installing carbon monoxide detectors. The detectors will alert you of any carbon monoxide leaks, allowing you to take the required precautions.
Replacing the Furnace Heat Exchanger
It would help if you never tried to replace or repair the furnace heat exchanger. This task is only reserved for the most experienced heating and AC repair technician. The professional will take your furnace apart and replace the component. Based on what caused the crack in your furnace heat exchanger and the potential damages caused by the incomplete combustion, other furnace components might require the attention of a heating and AC repair professional.
If a heat exchanger is maintained properly, it can last for over 15 years. A heating and AC repair professional will ensure the furnace filters are clean and the flues aren’t clogged. They will take all the measures to ensure that your furnace works perfectly and that your heat exchanger can serve you for the longest possible time. Inspecting the furnace annually will help catch any developing issues before they exacerbate or worsen.
Do you need a furnace repair, replacement, or maintenance service? Contact us today at Minuteman Heating & Air for a professional heating and air conditioning service.
See our previous blog on this topic here.