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Heat Exchangers and Your Safety: What You Need to Know

Shot of a mother and father playing with their two sons in their bedroomWith temperatures still dipping below 40 at night, it’s safe to assume you’re still using your heater on a fairly regular basis. Hopefully, you had maintenance done before the heating season began, to ensure that your system was thoroughly cleaned, inspected, and prepared for the coming months. Regardless of whether or not you had this important service done, however, something you never want to neglect is Edmond, OK furnace repair.

Today, we’re going to talk about one repair in particular—repairs to a cracked heat exchanger in a gas-powered furnace. Modern furnaces are designed to the highest standard in safety, of course, but any gas-powered appliance runs the risk of encountering a safety hazard such as this.

What a Heat Exchanger Is

The heat exchanger is the component that enables the furnace to heat up the air traveling through your ventilation system. When the burners of theater come on, they generate hot combustion gas, which is collected inside the heat exchanger. This heat exchanger is a metal chamber that resembles a clamshell, or a series of metal chambers.

The hot combustion gas in the heat exchanger heats up the metal walls, then when the blower fan of the furnace cycles on, it sends air around the exchanger. Here, the air picks of the heat, then continues into your ductwork. At no part of this process does the combustion gas come in contact with the air to be dispersed in your home.

One the heating process is over, the combustion byproducts within the heat exchanger are vented out of the system through a flue to release the gas harmlessly into the air.

The Danger of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

Since the metal of the heat exchanger expands and then contracts as it heats and cools, the stress can eventually cause a crack to form on the exchanger. Corrosion due to the reaction between the combustion gas and the metal (often because of improper venting) can also weaken the metal to the point that cracks develop.

These cracks may be miniscule, but as your furnace goes through the heating process, the exchanger expands with that heat, opening the cracks up enough to allow some of the combustion gasses to escape and enter your home’s airflow. This means that harmful gas will be sent all throughout your home.

What Are the Signs of a Damaged Heat Exchanger?

Fortunately, there are a couple things you can watch—or rather, listen—for that indicates you have a cracked heat exchanger. A major warning sign is a clicking noise coming from the furnace shortly after the blower shuts off. This should always be investigated by a professional.

If you see corrosion anywhere on the furnace, it’s also the sign of a problem, and a sign of old age. It’s probably a wise idea to consider system replacement if your furnace is 15+ years of age. One last indication that a damaged heat exchanger is causing problems is an apparent one—your CO detectors are going off. If this occurs, exit the home and call either your gas utility company or emergency services right away.

At Comfort Incorporated, we keep your family safe, healthy and comfortable–call today, service today!

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