The Danger of Cracked Heat Exchangers in a Furnace

With December arriving, we’re soon going to experience a steep drop in outdoor temperatures. We hope that your home’s heating system is ready for the change in the weather. If you haven’t already done so, you need to schedule professional maintenance for your heater. This will help ensure that the heating system works at its best through the season and has few opportunities to break down.

If you use a gas furnace, then it’s particularly important to arrange maintenance for it, since this will check that it has no safety issues. One of the safety problems that can develop in a furnace is a cracked heat exchanger.

What’s a heat exchanger?

The heat exchanger is a metal compartment inside a furnace that collects the combustion gas from the burners. The heat from the combustion gas raises the temperature of the metal walls of the exchanger. This heat then transfers to the air that passes around the exchanger from the blower. In this way, the heat from the combustion gas enters the air distributed through the house without the gas actually contacting the air. The exhaust from the combustion gas is vented out of the exchanger and through a flue.

Why a cracked heat exchanger is dangerous

As a heat exchanger develops corrosion over time (this happens because of the interaction of the combustion gas and metal) it will weaken to the point that cracks will develop along it as it expands with the heat. These cracks will permit toxic carbon monoxide gas to escape from the exchanger and enter the air flow—and this isn’t something you want in your home’s air!

However, regular maintenance will catch corrosion and cracks in a heat exchanger before they can pose a danger. Technicians will replace worn heat exchangers so your furnace will be able to function safely. In cases of very old furnaces (20+ years) it’s best to replace the entire system when corrosion starts up.

Mid-State Air Conditioning and Heating offers heating maintenance and other services throughout the Nashville, TN area.

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