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Danger of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

by | Oct 9, 2018 | Heating | 0 comments

Lifestyle Comfort Solutions realizes our clients aren’t HVAC technicians.  However, some HVAC problems–like a cracked heat exchanger- are life-threatening. Here’s what a heat exchanger is, and warning signs that you should never ignore.

What’s a Heat Exchanger?

A gas furnace’s heat exchanger is the part of your furnace which actually heats the air.  It’s a complex set of tubes or coils that loops through the airflow inside the furnace.  The actual shape depends on the model or type of your gas furnace.  A cracked heater exchanger allows poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide to leak into your home.  Research now establishes that even low levels of these gases pose serious health risks, especially to the elderly and young children.

Can I Spot a Cracked Heat Exchanger?

Perhaps, but not likely.  Better rely on a trained technician with proper diagnostic equipment like a combustion gas analyzer and camera which allows the technician to look inside the gas furnace.  This is just one reason Lifestyle Comfort Solutions believes in regular seasonal maintenance.

However, any of the following may be a warning sign of a cracked heat exchanger and should not be ignored:

  • Soot. Black carbon buildup on the inside of your furnace is a sign your furnace isn’t burning cleanly.  While there are a variety of reasons incomplete combustion occurs, a cracked heat exchanger is one of the more dangerous.
  • Strange Smells.  A malfunctioning heat exchanger may give off a strong, unpleasant odor like formaldehyde.  A headache is another symptom.  Should you experience strange odors which give you a headache, CALL LIFESTYLE COMFORT SOLUTIONS IMMEDIATELY.
  • Water on the Floor. Water on the floor at the base of your furnace should be checked immediately.  It may be a simple condensation issue, or something much more serious.  Your professional Lifestyle Comfort Solutions technician needs to check.
  • Corrosion/Visible Cracks on Furnace Components. Should the outside of your furnace start to show signs of wear and tear, it’s highly possible that the internal parts are also beginning to wear.  Stress cracks are common from the expanding and contracting of components during heating and cooling.  Exposure to fumes given off in the operation of your gas furnace eat away at your system over time.
  • Flu-like symptoms. When a cracked heat exchanger leaks carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases into the air, you may suffer flu-like symptoms such as nose/eye irritation, sleepiness, disorientation, and nausea.  If symptoms such as these start and stop when you enter or leave your home, call Lifestyle Comfort Solutions immediately.

Can a Cracked Heat Exchanger be Repaired?

From time to time, a cracked heat exchanger can be replaced.  However, the cost of replacing a major component like a heat exchanger is generally better invested in a new furnace, especially if your system is 10 years old or older.  In some instances, the cracked heat exchanger is so dangerous your technician will “red tag” your unit meaning it may NOT be used safely under any conditions. While Lifestyle Comfort Solutions realizes none of its clients enjoy having their furnace taken out of service, it is better than allowing dangerous gases to seep into your home’s air.

Our mission at Lifestyle Comfort Solutions is to create homes and workplaces which are comfortable, safe, healthy, and energy efficient.  Our highly knowledgeable and skilled technicians will answer your questions and assist you with HVAC issues.  Give us a call at 937.202.4520 with your questions and concerns.  Season after season..Lifestyle Comfort Solutions…Committed to Comfort.

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Lifestyle Comfort Solutions provides professional heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services to Beavercreek, Bellbrook, Centerville, Dayton, Fairborn, Huber Heights, Kettering, Miamisburg, Moraine, Oakwood, Spring Valley, Springboro, Troy, Vandalia, West Carrollton, and surrounding communities. Call us at 937-202-4520 or request service online today.

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