A furnace has a number of different components that work together to keep your home warm and comfortable. When one of the components break down, it can be an inconvenience for the residents. However, if the heat exchanger cracks this can become a dangerous problem. Even though cracked heat exchangers are rare, when they do occur, it is important to seek immediate repairs. Air Supply Heating & Air Conditioning would like to share more about heat exchangers and why they can be dangerous when they crack.
What is a Heat Exchanger & How Does it Work?
First, what is a heat exchanger? A heat exchanger is part of the furnace that heats the air. The gas burner and the heat from the flames pass into a metal coil which is called the heat exchanger. As the air flows through or past the heat exchanger, the air will becomes warm and is then sent through the air ducts. Inside the heat exchanger, gas can form which is usually safely directed on out through a flue.
Causes of a Cracked Heat Exchanger
A heat exchanger can crack simply due to age and regular use. When a furnace is over ten years old, it can be expected for it to require repairs, including a cracked heat exchanger. A younger furnace can also develop cracks in the heat exchanger, however it is rare. When a heat exchanger cracks in a newer furnace, it is often due to a lack of air flow. Air vents and registers may be closed or blocked, or you have a dirty air filter. When the air pressure begins to build up inside the furnace, there is enough pressure to cause the heat exchanger to crack. Another reason why a heat exchanger may crack may be due to the size of the furnace. An oversized furnace will have erratic cycles that stresses out the furnace. Often this stress comes in the form of constant expanding and contraction from the heat exchanger’s outer wall. Eventually, the frequent expanding and contracting will cause a crack in the outer wall of the heat exchanger.
What is the Result to the Occupants of a Heat Exchanger is Cracked?
During the heating process, there is combustion that is occurring inside the heat exchanger. During the heating cycle carbon monoxide gases will form. These gases are meant to be safely released outside through the furnaces flue. However, if there is a crack, the carbon monoxide gas will begin to leak through the crack and ventilate into the home. Carbon monoxide gases are extremely hard to detect and if it is breathed in, it can lead to illness and even death. Not only is carbon monoxide gas hazardous to breathe in, it is also extremely flammable. When there is a leak from the heat exchanger your home could potentially catch fire. A cracked heat exchanger is a major threat to the home and needs to be addressed quickly.
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With regular maintenance you can prevent an unexpected crack in the heat exchangers. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector to help warn you if a leak occurs. For heat exchanger repairs, or other HVAC services contact Air Supply Heating & Air Conditioning today.