Your furnace is an essential appliance in your home. If your dishwasher breaks down you can encounter the inconvenience of washing dishes by hand for a while. By contrast, a damaged heating system can be more than just an inconvenience. It can become a safety hazard.
With regular maintenance, your furnace should last 15 – 20 years. A common problem with older furnaces is a cracked heat exchanger. Knowing the warning signs enables you to arrange for a service or replacement as soon as a problem begins. Calling a professional for furnace repair in Ridgeland, MS will keep your family safe and your heat flowing throughout the winter.
What Does a Heat Exchanger Do?
Your furnace creates heat by combusting gas. The gases created from the combustion process can’t get into your ventilation system as the fumes are hazardous to your health. Instead, the heat exchanger captures the combustion gases. They raise the temperature of the heat exchanger, which is made of metal. The air moving around the metal heat exchanger absorbs the heat. The blower fan then moves the warmed air through your ductwork to heat your home while the heat exchanger sends the toxic fumes out the flue. This keeps the residents in the home safe and warm.
Even Small Cracks Are a Serious Problem
When the heat exchanger cracks the fumes inside leak into the air surrounding it. The blower then sends this toxic air throughout your home. This happens even with small cracks. Small cracks eventually turn into large cracks as the heat exchanger expands and contracts after each heating cycle.
You may not even be aware your furnace is blowing unsafe air. Carbon monoxide is toxic but has no odor. This is why you need a carbon monoxide detector in your home to warn you if and when there is a problem. If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off you should exit the home immediately and call the authorities.
Other toxic gases may include sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. These produce nasty smells that should not be ignored.
Warning Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger
Regular maintenance will help prevent a cracked heat exchanger. Corrosion is a common cause of cracks. Contact between the metal of the heat exchanger and the gases creates a chemical reaction. Over time this appears as corrosion and weakens the heat exchanger. Your HVAC technician will be able to find this issue with an inspection. A replacement of your heat system can be completed before a problem occurs.
Visible soot is an indication of incomplete combustion. Likewise, new noises popping up when your furnace starts or finishes a heat cycle are a signal for you to call in a professional to diagnose potential problems with your heat exchanger. Cracked heat exchangers will commonly produce hissing noises upon expansion and contraction.
A crack in your heat exchanger means you need to immediately stop running your furnace even if it seems to be running fine.