A furnace is almost always a background player for your home, ensuring you're warm across the cold winter months. It frequently doesn’t get noticed until a malfunction appears.
One source may be that your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger. It can be a safety risk, so it’s critical to know the evidence of a cracked heat exchanger and what to do if you believe 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 throughout the air ducts. It generally does this with coils or tubes that heat up the air while serving as a barrier to keep byproducts created in the combustion chamber, called flue gasses, from escaping out into your home.
Is a Cracked Heat Exchanger Dangerous?
Thanks to its key role, it isn't surprising that a cracked heat exchanger can pose a risk. A crack in the heat exchanger can permit dangerous gasses – such as carbon monoxide, which can be lethal – to flow across your home.
For this reason, do NOT use your heating if you believe you're dealing with a cracked heat exchanger, as doing so could make your entire household ill. Contact an HVAC professional immediately if you believe your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger that should be repaired.
Four Symptoms of a Cracked Heat Exchanger:
- Furnace turns off: A crack in your heat exchanger could cause your furnace to switch off.
- Unusual Smells: If the air escaping your furnace has an intense 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 goes off or you recognize poisoning symptoms: If a cracked heat exchanger is releasing carbon monoxide inside your home, your carbon monoxide alarm should go off or household members might experience signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting or feeling sleepy. If your alarm goes off or you feel unwell, exit the home immediately and then call for help.
- Soot: If you see black sooty accumulating on the exterior of your furnace, it’s another sign something might be seriously wrong.
What to Do if Your Furnace Heat Exchanger is Cracked
If you believe your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, call a professional well versed in furnace installation Muskogee right away so they can inspect your system and, if necessary, perform a furnace heat exchanger replacement. Costs often differ depending on the situation, but estimates can roughly suggest $1,000 to $3,000.
Fortunately, the good news is that heat exchangers are often included in the warranty. It's a good idea to confirm the warranty paperwork on your furnace, since while the warranty won't always cover the entire cost of repairs, it could significantly shrink your bill.
How to Avoid a Cracked Heat Exchanger in Your Home
One of the best ways to prevent a problem in your furnace overall is via regular furnace maintenance. Furnaces provide the best possible return on investment when they work efficiently. Hiring a certified professional to check your furnace for broken-down parts, clogs in the air filters and other potential problems can keep you from getting a big bill later on.
It’s also helpful to review your furnace filters every few months – it’s ideal some filters be changed 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 dragging air through a clogged filter makes the entire furnace work longer to do its job. And the harder your furnace has to work, the more wear and tear parts like the heat exchanger will sustain.