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What a Cracked Heat Exchanger Means

Gas furnaces have an unfair reputation as hazardous ways of home heating. But even though the dangers of a gas furnace are exaggerated, they do have potential safety issues you need to watch for. With prompt repairs and regular maintenance you can almost reduce these possibilities to zero. Make sure you rely on professional HVAC technicians for those crucial repairs, and you should have many years of trouble-free performance from your gas furnace.

In this post, we’ll look at one of the more serious problems a gas furnace can encounter: a cracked heat exchanger. This calls for fast repairs from skilled technicians. Look to Comfort Flow Heating and our 24-hour emergency repair service for heating systems in Salem, OR when you think you have a cracked heat exchanger… or any other repair issue in your gas furnace.

The cracked heat exchanger: what it means and why it’s serious

The heat exchanger serves a vital function the heating cycle of a furnace. This metal, clamshell-shaped chamber collects the combustion gas from the burner, which heats up its walls. Air from the blower passes over the exchanger and heats up because of the hot metal. This allows the combustion gas to transfer its heat to the air that will circulate into a home without allowing toxic fumes to enter it. Once the heating cycle ends, the exhaust in the exchanger vents out through the gas flue.

Exchangers are durable components, but they can develop corrosion because of long contact with combustion gas—especially if the gas isn’t venting properly. Because the heat exchanger expands when it heats up, it’s easy for cracks to develop in spots where corrosion has weakened the metal. Even a small crack will gape wide when the exchanger expands… wide enough to let the exhaust escape.

This is the principle danger from a cracked exchanger. The exhaust from combustion gas contains carbon monoxide, a toxic and flammable gas that is also colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it difficult to detect. A leak in the exchanger can place carbon monoxide into the air from the blower that goes into your house. It can also reach the burner and catch fire, or even explode if enough of it floods the combustion chamber.

How you can detect a cracked heat exchanger

First of all, if you haven’t installed carbon monoxide detectors in your home, have this done right away. Any house with a gas-powered appliance should have a CO detector as a precaution.

Second, you should suspect a cracked heat exchanger if you notice any corrosion along the furnace. Corrosion can mean other problems as well, so don’t take any chances: shut off the gas and call for repairs.

Third, cracks in the heat exchanger will result in a clicking noise starting right after the blower turns on. Don’t try to analyze the sound, just contact repair technicians.

Our team experienced in heating repairs in Salem, OR will have any furnace woes fixed so you’ll stay safe. Look to the company others have depended on for more than 50 years, Comfort Flow Heating.

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