Consequences of Cracked Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger is the most expensive component of your furnace, and it plays a critical role in proper fuel combustion as well as the safe operation of your heating system. Running your furnace with a cracked heat exchanger can have deadly consequences, so it’s essential to have your heating system thoroughly inspected by a knowledgeable professional once a year.
How a Heat Exchanger Works
A heat exchanger isn’t a complicated piece of mechanical equipment. It’s simply a metal box with interior tubes or coils that sits right above the furnace’s fuel burner. Whenever the burner runs, the metal box heats up. When the blower cycles on, it pushes air across the outer surface of the box to absorb the heat and distribute it through your ductwork.
What Causes Heat Exchanger Deterioration?
During each on/off cycle of your furnace, the metal heat exchanger expands and contracts as it heats up and cools down. Over time, that expansion and contraction causes metal fatigue, so small cracks start to develop in the heat exchanger as the furnace ages. A metal heat exchanger can also rust out prematurely if the furnace isn’t cleaned yearly and the furnace filter replaced regularly. If soot and debris accumulate, the build up insulates the metal so heat exchange slows down and condensation forms that promotes corrosion.
Why a Cracked Heat Exchanger is Dangerous
Holes or cracks in a heat exchanger change the normal pressure inside a running furnace. This results in incomplete fuel combustion and produces exhaust fumes containing elevated amounts of carbon monoxide. The damaged areas on the heat exchanger give these poisonous fumes an easy entry route into your home’s air supply. If the cracks or holes are large enough, the flame on the burner can roll out of its compartment, which puts you at greater risk of a fire.
At Sobieski Services, Inc., our goal is to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey learn more about energy and home comfort issues — especially HVAC and plumbing issues — so that they can save money and live in healthier, more comfortable homes.