Broken Heat Exchanger: A Furnace Issue You Can't Ignore
Sometimes when something minor on your furnace breaks, you can choose to ignore it for a time until you replace the furnace for other reasons, or until you need to have your HVAC contractor out for another reason. But there is one furnace repair which, when needed, should never be delayed. If your heat exchanger breaks or cracks, you need to take care of that ASAP. Keep reading to learn more.
What is a heat exchanger?
A heat exchanger is the part of your furnace that actually passes the heat from the flame to the blowing air. The heat exchanger warms up, and air flows over it, getting warmer in the process.
How do you know your heat exchanger has broken?
Heat exchangers usually cause some pretty obvious symptoms when they break. You might notice an odor that reminds you of burning metal. You may also notice a booming noise every time the furnace kicks on. (This noise happens once, and then does not continue when the furnace is running.) You may also notice that your furnace runs more often than usual. And if you have a carbon monoxide detector, it might go off.
Why can't you ignore a broken heat exchanger?
You should not ignore a potentially broken heat exchanger because, as mentioned above, it can lead to carbon monoxide being given off. The CO may leak from the flame through the crack in the heat exchanger and into the circulating air. CO is odorless, but it is a poisonous gas that can lead to confusion, headaches, nausea, and even sudden death.
How will a furnace contractor address a broken heat exchanger?
If you suspect you have a broken heat exchanger, turn your furnace off and call a local HVAC company. They can check your furnace to see whether the heat exchanger is, indeed, cracked. If it is, they will often remove the heat exchanger and put a new one into the furnace in its place. However, this is a rather demanding repair and can be expensive. If your furnace is already old or has some other issues, the HVAC company may instead recommend replacing your entire furnace.
Heat exchangers do break from time to time. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the signs that yours is broken so you can call your HVAC contractor for furnace repairs if you suspect this problem. Safety should be your priority in this case.