Your furnace is a fuel-burning appliance, which means it emits combustion gasses (like carbon monoxide) as a byproduct of the heating process. Normally these gasses are vented out of your home, but they can get into your home’s air supply if your heat exchanger develops a crack. Today we’re going to talk about what can cause a cracked heat exchanger and what you can do to keep your home safe from one this winter!
What is a heat exchanger?
A heat exchanger is the part of your furnace that makes it possible to safely transfer heat to the air that’s cycled throughout your home.
When your furnace’s burners are ignited, the flames are directed inside the heat exchanger’s chamber. As this happens, the metal walls of the heat exchanger heat up. Your furnace then blows air over the outside walls of the (now hot) heat exchanger, and the resulting warm air is delivered to your home.
How can a heat exchanger crack and why is that dangerous?
During every heating cycle, your heat exchanger begins cool, heats up and cools back down again. This causes the heat exchanger’s metal walls to expand and contract. Although your heat exchanger is designed to withstand this kind of stress, cracks can develop over time due to years of normal wear-and-tear. Other problems that can result in a cracked heat exchanger include rusting, airflow issues and an improperly sized system.
Regardless of how your heat exchanger cracks, it can lead to serious safety issues in your home. That’s because the carbon monoxide gas that is usually contained within the heat exchanger and vented out of your home can now escape through your heat exchanger’s cracks. And when carbon monoxide leaks out of your heat exchanger, it also gets into your home’s air supply.
Keep your home safe with regular furnace maintenance
In order to avoid a carbon monoxide leak in your home due to a cracked heat exchanger, it’s important to make sure that your furnace is properly maintained. First and foremost, you should schedule maintenance on your furnace with Tiger once per year so that we can inspect your system for signs of a cracked heat exchanger. We’ll take care of any safety issues with your furnace before they can affect the health of you and your family.
In addition, it’s important to change your air filter regularly to ensure your furnace always has good airflow. This will help avoid your furnace from overworking and overheating, both of which increase the likelihood of your heat exchanger cracking.
If you have any questions about a cracked heat exchanger, or if you’d like a heating system serviced or installed in your home, contact Tiger Services, your St. Louis Metro East plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor.