Okay, let’s face it… there is no problem that you want to have with your furnace, right? No matter the issue, it’s inconvenient and many times even costly.
But there is one problem, in particular, that’s not only inconvenient and costly but could be potentially hazardous, too. What problem is that? A cracked heat exchanger!
If there’s any year we don’t need anything else threatening the safety of our households, it is 2020, right? You have enough to worry about—maintaining good health hygiene both in your home and outside, making sure you’re equipped with the right indoor air quality products to keep your family’s immune system up, and adapting your holiday plans to accommodate social distancing and restricted travel.
We get it, and we want to do whatever we can to help keep you safe, including making sure that you’re very knowledgeable about heat exchangers and why they shouldn’t be damaged. Read on!
First, What Is a Heat Exchanger?
As the name implies, this is the component responsible for actually providing heat in your furnace. Heat exchangers are metal clamshell-shaped components that are filled up with hot combustion gases from the furnace’s burner jets. The furnace’s blower fan blows air over the heat exchangers, and then that air travels through your ductwork and into your home.
The heat exchangers are what allow the air to be heated without being exposed to harmful gasses, namely carbon monoxide.
Hopefully, you can already see where we’re going with this and understand why a cracked heat exchanger is a bad thing…
What Causes a Cracked Heat Exchanger?
First, it bears mentioning that this is not a common problem in newer furnaces. It typically afflicts aging systems—that is, furnaces that are 10-15+ years old. Throughout the years, your furnace’s heat exchangers undergo a lot of stress. Every time they heat up, the metal expands. When it cools down, the metal contracts again. This constant movement of the metal is going to lead to corrosion.
It’s a natural part of wear and tear, but not an acceptable part of wear and tear. You can best fend off being surprised by this problem by scheduling routine maintenance for your furnace. Our technicians will thoroughly inspect your system, including looking for signs of a cracked heat exchanger.
Is It Really That Big of a Risk?
Yes. The thing is, the cracks that happen on heat exchangers are microscopic in nature. This means you won’t be able to see it. But every time they heat up and the metal expands, the cracks grow wider. When they do this, they allow carbon monoxide to leak out, as we mentioned above.
In less severe cases, CO poisoning can lead to nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, and more. Enough CO exposure can be and has been fatal. This is absolutely nothing to mess around with.
Maintenance, as we mentioned above, is key to avoiding this. You should also ensure that your home is well equipped with CO detectors. This is the best way to protect your family.