Heat exchanger cracks are a deal breaker in most furnaces. A defective heat exchanger diagnosed by a reputable HVAC contractor usually results in your furnace being “red tagged,” shut down and labeled unsafe to operate. There’s a good reason for that. No other household component can potentially threaten the life and health of your family like a cracked heat exchanger. It’s also the single most expensive component in your furnace and is rarely worth repairing or replacing alone. The financial reality is that in the overwhelming amount of cases, and particularly if the unit is out of warranty, replacement of the entire furnace generally is indicated.
Here are some basics of heat exchanger maintenance and inspection.
- Cracks in a heat exchanger may be caused by age, cumulative operating hours and operating conditions. The thin metal material expands and contracts under heating and cooling, eventually leading to thermal stress fractures. A furnace that isn’t properly sized for the home and cycles on and off excessively may develop heat exchanger cracks earlier than a unit that is matched more accurately to the heating load of the house.
- A heat exchanger crack poses a serious safety threat due to the potential of deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas. The heat exchanger separates air that circulates through your home from the combustion gases produced by the burner that heats the air. When cracks develop, CO gas may infiltrate household air and spread through ductwork to the entire home. This is particularly hazardous if the flue venting system is blocked or partially restricted, forcing combustion gases through small cracks in the heat exchanger.
- An HVAC technician will utilize a variety of methods to inspect your heat exchanger. These include visual inspection with strong lights to pinpoint leakage, use of spray dyes formulated to reveal cracks in metal, infusion of smoke under pressure into the exchanger and instruments that test for the presence of combustion gases in the circulating airflow.
P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling is Cleveland’s choice for HVAC excellence since 1936. To ensure your family’s safety this winter, let us inspect your system for dangerous heat exchanger cracks as part of one of our comprehensive precision tune-ups.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.