Are you utilizing a gas-powered furnace inside your home? This doesn’t come as a surprise. The gas furnace, after all, is the most common heating system found in homes throughout the country, especially in spots like ours that have significantly cold winters.
Furnaces are very cost-effective, and a great option for most homeowners. However, while they are not harmful by nature, when you use natural gas in your home, there is always the risk of toxic gas leaks and combustion problems. The primary concern in avoiding this problem is taking good care of the furnace through professional maintenance–otherwise, your system could suffer from a cracked heat exchanger.
This is never something to be ignored. If you suspect you have a cracked heat exchanger or have been told you have a cracked heat exchanger, please cease use of your heater and give us a call right away. In the meantime, read on to learn more about this problem.
What Is the Heat Exchanger?
This is a great question! This is the part of your furnace actually responsible for applying heat to the air that your blower fan sends into the ductwork and then into your living space. The heat exchanger is a sort of clamshell-shaped metal chamber, and a number of them are typically arranged in rows in the furnace. This is where hot combustion gas collects from the burners, including carbon monoxide (CO).
The intense heat from the gas raises the temperature of the metal walls, making the outside of the heat exchanger very hot. This enables the furnace to apply the heat of the combustion gas to the air without letting those gases come into contact with the air in your home.
What Causes Heat Exchanger Damage?
The heat exchangers in your furnace go through a large amount of stress throughout the winter and throughout the years. Every time they heat up, the metal expands. Over time, the constant expansion and contraction weaken the metal of the heat exchanger, leading to eventual corrosion and subsequent damage.
This is, as you can probably guess, a much higher risk for older furnaces, or furnace that don’t vent as well as they should or aren’t well-maintained. Corrosion weakens the metal even more, and the added strain on the heat exchangers leads to small cracks that can be invisible to homeowners, but actually causes major problems for your household health and safety.
The Danger of a Cracked Heat Exchanger
As we mentioned above, a crack on a heat exchanger can be pretty much invisible. In fact, if you were to pour water onto a cooled, cracked heat exchanger, you would probably not even see a drop of water enter it. However, what occurs is that when the heat exchanger heats up, the cracks widen and this enables unhealthy gases, like CO, to escape into your living space that would have otherwise been vented out of a flue.
CO exposure can lead to CO poisoning, which leads to hundreds of illnesses and even fatalities each year. This is why it’s so important to take great care of your furnace through annual professional maintenance each year!