A furnace is often a background player in your home, ensuring you're warm in the cold winter months. It frequently doesn’t get noticed until something goes wrong.
One root cause could be that your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger. It can potentially be hazardous, so it’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the signs of a cracked heat exchanger and what you should do if you believe that is the problem.
What Is a Heat Exchanger in a Furnace?
A heat exchanger helps move heat from the combustion chamber of your furnace to the air that flows through the air ducts. It typically accomplishes this using coils or tubes that heat up the air while functioning as a barrier to keep gas formed 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 shouldn't come as a surprise that a cracked heat exchanger can be hazardous. Cracks in the heat exchanger can enable dangerous gasses – such as carbon monoxide, which can be lethal – to flow through your home.
For that reason, never turn on your heater if you suspect there's a crack in the heat exchanger, as doing so could make the whole household sick. Call an HVAC professional right away if you think your heater has a cracked heat exchanger that needs to be repaired.
Four Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger:
- Furnace turns off: A cracked heat exchanger could cause your furnace to shut off.
- Strange Smells: If the air escaping your furnace has a powerful chemical smell, it may be evidence gasses are seeping through cracks in your heat exchanger. These byproducts, which will often smell like formaldehyde, are a major warning sign.
- Carbon monoxide alarm initiates or you feel symptoms of poisoning: If a cracked heat exchanger is emitting carbon monoxide inside your home, your carbon monoxide alarm could go off or family members could start experiencing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting or feeling tired. If the alarm goes off or you feel unusually tired, exit the home right away and then call for help.
- Soot: If you spot black sooty buildup on the exterior of your furnace, it’s an indication something might be seriously wrong.
What to Do if Your Furnace Heat Exchanger is Cracked
If you worry your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, hire a professional well versed in furnace installation Eastland right away so they can examine your system and, if necessary, perform a furnace heat exchanger replacement. Costs will vary depending on the situation, but estimates can roughly suggest $1,000 to $3,000.
However, the good news is that heat exchangers are generally covered by the warranty. You should review the warranty paperwork on your furnace, because while the warranty might not cover the entire cost of repairs, it can significantly shrink your bill.
How to Prevent a Cracked Heat Exchanger in Your Home
One of the easiest ways to prevent a problem in your furnace overall is via consistent furnace maintenance. Furnaces provide the best possible return on investment when they run efficiently. Contacting a trained professional to examine your furnace for broken-down parts, clogs in the air filters and other likely problems can keep you from getting a big bill later on.
It’s also a good idea to inspect 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 are not part of the heat exchanger itself, the strain of dragging air through a clogged filter makes your entire furnace work more vigorously to do its job. And the harder your furnace works, the more strain parts like the heat exchanger will experience.