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Cracked Heat Exchangers and the Importance of Furnace Maintenance

A few weeks ago, we addressed a concern that homeowners who use natural gas furnaces often have: carbon monoxide leaks. Today, we’re going to look at a specific reason that a gas furnace may leak harmful CO, and why it’s vitally important that you have routine fall maintenance for the furnace to help prevent it. The problem is with cracked heat exchangers.

What Is a Heat Exchanger?

The heat exchanger in a furnace is a set of metal coils or containers that are designed to heat the air from the blower. In other words, it’s the part of your furnace that does the actually “heating” part of its job, seeing that the air blown into the ventilation system is warmed up. The exchanger collects the high-temperature combustion gas from the ribbon burners, and the gas heats up the metal walls of the exchanger. Air from the blower flows across the hot metal surface gains heat before heading into the ventilation system. A vent then removes the exhaust gas from the heat exchanger to the outside.

Cracks in the Heat Exchanger

The metal of a heat exchanger can develop corrosion over time because of the interaction between the vapor in the combustion gas and metal. Corrosion weakens the metal, and as the exchanger expands from heat, it can cause cracks to appear. These cracks can permit harmful gases to leak into your home, including carbon monoxide.

Preventing dangers from a cracked heat exchanger is easy, however: you only need to call on professionals to inspect the furnace during the fall. Maintenance technicians will see that the furnace is venting correctly, which will help keep away corrosion. If they detect corrosion on the exchangers, they can arrange to replace them. (In the case of furnaces over 20 years old, it may be wiser to simply get a new furnace.)

Hall’s Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration offers furnace maintenance in Haughton, LA.

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