What does a Cracked Heat Exchanger mean for my furnace?
Your home’s furnace system is comprised of several components that need to function optimally in order to maximize efficiency and comfort in your home, especially during the peak of the winter season. One important component of a furnace system is the heat exchanger. The main function of this metal component is to facilitate the transfer of heat from the burner to the air which will then be distributed inside your home.
However, due to constant use and the increased demand for heat during the cooler seasons, holes and fractures may develop on the heat exchange. Over time, when these fractures and holes develop into serious cracks, your household may be at risk of grave danger. A cracked heat exchanger can lead to the leak of combustion fumes from the furnace into your home. This is a serious health hazard that can lead to respiratory problems, asthma and allergy attacks, fires, and even fatalities due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
What Should You Do when your heater is diagnosed with a cracked heat exchanger?
In order to arrive at a suitable solution, you and your HVAC tech will need to take into account a few crucial factors including the system’s age, condition and the severity of the crack.
If the furnace system installed in your home is relatively new and is covered by a warranty, the best course of action to take is to have the damaged component immediately replaced under warranty. Unfortunately this may leave you without heat for a few days, sometimes longer but it is the best option. Your local HVAC company will sometimes have to custom order the part from your manufacturer and these can sometimes take time to deliver. If the furnace is over 15 years old, there is a chance that the part is no longer being made which will require a furnace replacement.
On the bright side, if the furnace has served your household for more than a decade, purchasing a new one would be the better choice for you. Replacing a heat exchanger not under warranty is not cheap so it’s important to look at the long term investment. Apart from preventing potential issues, you can end up saving more money over the long run with a more efficient furnace system.
Take note that if the HVAC tech discovers a crack on the heat exchanger, your furnace may be intentionally disabled until the component has been repaired in order to guarantee the safety of your family and prevent a potential breakout of fire. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off and you are not sure if it is accurate, you also have the option to call your local gas and electric company to inspect the issue at no charge. Either way, we recommend turning off the furnace until you have the answers you need to make a decision.
Best Ways to Prevent a Furnace Problem
One of the best ways to prevent this problem is to have your furnace regularly checked by a qualified professional, especially before the start of the cooler months. A thorough check by a trained and experienced professional will root out potential problems before these worsen and cost you a lot of money and hassles. Your HVAC tech can also tell you when it is time to consider investing in a new system.