If a gas furnace heats your home, the heat exchanger is an essential component of the heating operation. The furnace heat exchanger is responsible for transferring heat from the combustion to the air that is being circulated in your home. Combustion gases enter the exchanger and warm the metal components. The exchanger is a series of metal plates that are placed inside the furnace. The furnace will heat the plates up, blowing air over the heated plates. This will warm the air, and then the furnace will blow the air into your home. The heat exchanger is completely sealed and connected to the furnace flue, ensuring that combustion gases are safely vented outside.
Under normal circumstances, your furnace operation is completely safe and provides an efficient heating source for your home. Over the course of normal wear and tear, however, the metal heat exchanger expands and contracts as a part of the heating process. As a result, it’s common for heat exchangers to develop stress cracks. If this happens, it is possible for combustion gases to escape into your home and create a number of potential hazards. Let’s take a look at some cracked heat exchanger symptoms.
One of the things that you should inspect when doing your regular furnace maintenance is the heat exchanger. You may be able to see cracks in the heat exchanger when you visually inspect the furnace. If you do see any cracks, it’s important to get them fixed right away. Cracks can appear anywhere on the heat exchanger components and can be large openings or small cracks or holes. It is important to do a thorough inspection regularly as even small cracks can allow dangerous gases to escape.
Incomplete combustion of fuel can cause various problems in your furnace, including the presence of soot on the heat exchanger or on the furnace’s interiors. The presence of soot is usually the result of improper burner adjustment or a cracked heat exchanger. If you notice soot building up on your heat exchanger, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. Soot could be a sign that your heat exchanger is damaged and allowing for incomplete combustion, which can lead to a dangerous situation in your home.
If your furnace is working properly, you will notice a steady blue flame present in your furnace. Any abnormal flame is a sign of an issue. A yellow flame could mean that you have a damaged heat exchanger. When this happens, the exchanger can no longer properly transfer heat from the furnace to the air, and the furnace will not be able to heat your home as efficiently. Additionally, this could indicate improper combustion. If you see a yellow flame or a flickering flame, you should call a professional to inspect the heat exchanger and repair or replace it if necessary.
Cracked heat exchangers can give off a strong chemical smell. Some people compare the odor to the smell of formaldehyde. The odor is toxic and can cause headaches and other symptoms. Be sure to keep a safe distance from the heat exchanger if you smell anything strange, and call a professional to fix the problem as soon as possible.
A cracked heat exchanger can be extremely dangerous. A leak from the heat exchanger can cause the furnace to overheat and potentially start a fire. Additionally, a cracked heat exchanger can release carbon monoxide into the home, which can lead to a number of health problems. It is important to have your gas furnace regularly inspected by a qualified HVAC technician to prevent any issues. Additionally, you should pay close attention to any signs that indicate a problem with your furnace or heat exchanger.