Bad Furnace Heat Exchanger? How To Judge And The Troubles It Can Cause

Posted on: 3 December 2014

Are you concerned about your gas furnace filling your home with deadly gasses? One thing for you to inspect from time to time is the heat exchanger in the furnace. Here is a little about heat exchangers and how to inspect it between professional furnace maintenance and repairs.

What does a heat exchanger do?

The heat exchanger inside your furnace is a ceramic tube with one hole on each end. The heat is brought into the exchanger through one end and the dangerous gasses are expelled through the other end outside your home. As the exchanger heats up, the forced air flowing around the unit warms and is distributed throughout your home.

How is a broken heat exchanger dangerous?

Over time the expanding and contracting of the ceramic exchanger can cause the chamber to crack. When this happens, the gasses that are meant to be expelled outside of your home are released and distributed inside your home. This is dangerous because the toxic gasses can go undetected by humans until the effects of the carbon monoxide poisoning have set in.

Note: Having carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home can help decrease the chances of you falling ill or even dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. Install carbon monoxide detectors and test  them at least twice each year to ensure they are in good working order.

Is there a way to determine if a heat exchanger needs to be replaced?

Yes. There are a few ways to learn if a heat exchanger is damaged and in need of replacement. The signs of a damaged heat exchanger include the following.

Physical symptoms – If anyone in your home experiences unexplainable headaches or flu-like symptoms, eye and nasal irritation, sleepiness, disorientation or nausea, you should get everyone out of your home and have the furnace inspected immediately.

Changing Flame - Watch the flame on your furnace. If you notice that the flame in your furnace is not staying steadily blue, there is likely a crack somewhere in the heat exchanger.

Corroded Components – If other elements of your furnace have corrosion, there is a good chance that there are other elements inside your furnace that are corroded as well.

Soot Buildup – If you notice black soot building up on and around your furnace, the gas is not cleanly burning. When this happens, the system is not functioning properly and there is likely damage that must be repaired immediately.

Anytime you question whether your furnace is in good working order, contact your local furnace repair technician, such as Pell City Heating & Cooling Inc, to have a thorough inspection performed and repairs made.