A furnace is almost always a background player at home, ensuring you're warm across the cold winter months. It frequently won't be noticed until something goes wrong.
One root cause might be that your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger. It can be a safety risk, so it’s worthwhile to know the symptoms of a cracked heat exchanger and what you can 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 circulates inside the air ducts. It generally does this through coils or tubes that heat up 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?
Thanks to its important role, it’s no surprise that a broken heat exchanger can be very dangerous. A damaged heat exchanger can permit dangerous gasses – like carbon monoxide, which can be lethal – to circulate through your home.
For that reason, do NOT use your heater if you suspect there's a crack in the heat exchanger, as letting it run could make your entire family sick. Reach out to an HVAC professional as soon as possible if you are worried your heating has a cracked heat exchanger that should be repaired.
Four 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 an intense chemical scent, it could be evidence gas is slipping through cracks in your heat exchanger. These byproducts, which may smell like formaldehyde, are a significant warning sign.
- Carbon monoxide alarm initiates or you recognize symptoms of poisoning: If a cracked heat exchanger is relieving carbon monoxide in your home, your carbon monoxide alarm should go off or family members might experience signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Complications include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting or feeling drowsy. If your alarm goes off or you feel unwell, exit the home right away and then call for help.
- Soot: If you spot black sooty accumulating around the exterior of your furnace, it’s an indication something may be seriously wrong.
What to Do if Your Furnace Heat Exchanger is Cracked
If you worry your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, contact a pro with extensive experience in furnace installation Kingsville right away so they can inspect your system and, if needed, start a furnace heat exchanger replacement. Costs should fluctuate depending on the situation, but estimates run in the neighborhood of $1,000 to $3,000.
Estimates aside, the good news is that heat exchangers are generally covered by the warranty. You should check the warranty paperwork on your furnace, since while the warranty won't always cover the entire cost of repairs, it still may significantly lower your bill.
How to Avoid a Cracked Heat Exchanger in Your Home
One of the most convenient ways to avoid problems in your furnace overall is via routine furnace maintenance. Furnaces offer the most benefits when they run efficiently. Contacting a trained professional to examine your furnace for old parts, clogs in the air filters and other likely problems can keep you from getting a big bill later on.
It’s also helpful 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 are not part of the heat exchanger itself, the strain of pulling air through a clogged filter makes the entire furnace work harder to accomplish its job. And the harder your furnace needs to run, the more strain parts like the heat exchanger will sustain.