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What Does a Cracked Heat Exchanger Mean?

furnace systemFirst off, you may be wondering what a heat exchanger is. If you have a gas-powered furnace, this is a clamshell-shaped object within it that performs an essential part of the heating process. Heat exchangers are unimpressive looking to the untrained eye, but they are of vital importance. This is where hot combustion gasses go after being produced by the burners.

These gasses transfer heat to the walls of the exchangers, and venting pipes remove the cooled exhaust from the gas while fans funnel air through and around the exchangers to receive the heat from their walls. Without heat exchangers, the heat from the gas jets would never reach your indoor air, and you’d feel nothing more than room temperature air wafting from the vents—which, in the winter, can be pretty uncomfortable!

But, What Happens When One Cracks?

First off, it’s a sign that you need Olympia, WA furnace repair services, but we promise we’ll go into more detail than just that! Cracked heat exchangers are definitely something that requires replacement right away, and if you need this service you can give us a call and we’ll help you out ASAP!

Cracked Heat Exchangers Are Hazardous

Cracks along the heat exchangers within your furnace can be caused by rust and corrosion that comes with extensive age in a furnace, and/or by a lack of maintenance. If we were to remove a heat exchanger form your furnace and show you where a crack developed, you may wonder what the big deal is—these cracks actually look very small. But inside the furnace, these heat exchangers expand as they absorb heat, and this stretches open these cracks.

Why does this matter? Well, the danger of these gaps in the heat exchangers is they allow the escape of exhaust gas from the furnace into the household. This means that dangerous carbon monoxide is allowed into your home. Even the smallest amount of this undetectable gas can cause severe headaches and nausea.

The American Gas Association states: “Any visible crack or hole is reason for requiring replacement of the heat exchanger or the furnace.”

How Do I Know If I Have a Cracked Heat Exchanger?

A common sign of this problem is a clicking noise coming from the inside of the furnace cabinet. If you hear clicking that you cannot attribute to loose bolts or broken bits of machinery (of which you should still call our team for immediate repairs), then be sure to shut off your gas supply to the furnace and call in an expert right away.

Another sign is the presence of excessive soot. Furnaces that work as they should, burn cleanly and leave very little soot behind. So if you start to see considerable amounts, then your unit might not be burning cleanly due to a cracked heat exchanger.

You’ll also want to be aware of any strong odors coming from the system. As we said, carbon monoxide is odorless. However, sometimes a faulty heat exchanger can create a formaldehyde-type smell. Be sure to have a professional check your furnace the instant you smell this!

Contact Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. today! We take your comfort, and the safety of your household, as serious as you do.

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