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Peatson's Heating and Air Conditioning Ltd. Blog

Why A Cracked Heat Exchanger in a Furnace Is Dangerous

There are some furnace issues that are easier to overlook than others. Sometimes, the issue seems like a minor one. For example, so long as your furnace is heating your home, you might ignore the fact that it isn’t heating it as quickly as it used to. Or, if the air coming from the vents doesn’t seem as strong and hot as it once did. 

However, when it comes to furnace service in Mississauga, ON, there are some issues that definitely shouldn’t be ignored. If you own a gas furnace, one of these major problems is a cracked heat exchanger. A cracked heat exchanger is a serious health and safety issue and needs immediate, professional HVAC service. Let’s go over the signs of a cracked heat exchanger to help you determine if it’s going on in your home.

Why is a cracked heat exchanger a major problem?

It helps to understand how the heat exchanger works to understand why it’s potentially a major health hazard when something goes wrong. 

  • In gas furnaces, the aptly named heat exchanger is where the exchange of heat occurs. 
  • Made of steel or aluminum, the heat exchanger transfers heat from one place to another. 
  • Combustion gases enter through the heat exchanger, raising the temperature of its metal walls.
  • The blower fan pushes air over the metal chambers and the heat transfers to the air. 
  • The heated air then travels through your ductwork and into your home.
  • The flue gases are directed out of your home.

What causes cracks in the heat exchanger?

Heat exchangers are subject to a lot of wear and tear due to the constant heating and cooling down. The heat exchanger’s metal walls or chambers constantly expand and contract with every heating cycle, leading to corrosion, small cracks, and weakening of the metal parts. If the heat exchanger develops cracks, the combustion gases could potentially enter the air being blown into the rooms. 

How would I know if my heat exchanger is cracked?

These cracks are nearly invisible to the naked eye. You need to depend on your other senses to spot them. Here are some signs of a cracked heat exchanger.

  • Odors such as rotten eggs, sulfur, or formaldehyde
  • Your carbon monoxide detector is going off
  • You’re suffering from headaches, nausea, dizziness, or flu-like symptoms
  • The furnace isn’t heating your home sufficiently 
  • You can hear a repetitive clicking noise after the blower shuts off
  • Signs of corrosion on the furnace

What should I do if I suspect my heat exchanger could be cracked?

The first thing you need to do is shut off the furnace. If anyone in your home is suffering from the physical effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, you’ll need to evacuate your home and call emergency services. When your family is safely removed from the home, call us for immediate repairs. 

How can I avoid a cracked heat exchanger?

Although older furnaces are more at risk, the best way to avoid this issue is to have your gas furnace maintained annually. Regular maintenance can help avoid this problem or at least, catch it early.

For furnace service in Mississauga, ON, contact the professionals at Peatson’s Heating and Air Conditioning Ltd.

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