Ways to Know if Your Furnace Heat Exchanger Is MalfunctioningYou should have your furnace inspected and tuned up annually to make sure that it is working properly. It’s especially important for your HVAC technician to inspect the furnace heat exchanger, probably the most component in a furnace. This is where the air is heated before being distributed to ductwork and then rooms in your home. If your technician diagnoses a cracked heat exchanger, he’ll likely “red-tag” your furnace, meaning it can’t be turned on again until the problem is resolved, usually either through replacement of the heat exchanger or the entire furnace system. This is because combustion exhaust, including potentially lethal carbon monoxide (CO), can escape through a crack in this important part. How will you know if your heat exchanger may be cracked? Here are several things that you should look out for.

Soot Buildup

A buildup of soot is caused by improper combustion that can be a direct result of a cracked exchanger. There may be an accumulation of black soot inside the furnace or close to the cracks in your heat exchanger.

High Level of Carbon Monoxide

Every home should have one or more working CO detectors, ideally with one on each level of the house. When the alarm goes off, turn off the furnace, open the windows, and evacuate the home. Call your gas company immediately to determine the source of the CO in your home’s air. CO leaks often originate from a combustion furnace since this deadly gas is a byproduct of burning fuel.

Rusted or Cracked Metal

When your boiler/furnace is exposed to moisture, it may develop deterioration or rust in the metallic components, eventually leading to cracks. You should have a professional inspection performed to expose these issues. An expert should be able to detect any signs of cracking or rust on your heat exchanger. If a crack is discovered, the technician should review your options, though as mentioned, a heat exchanger is a major component that’s expensive to replace. It’s similar to having a defective engine in your car; sometimes it just makes the most sense to replace the car (or furnace) altogether.

Abnormal flame

As your furnace ages, it becomes more prone to leaks in the heat exchanger. Therefore, you should inspect the flame regularly. It should burn steadily and blue. If the flame jumps, you might have a problem. Yellow and orange flames also indicate furnace problems, too.

If you want to get more information about problems with your furnace and how to address them, please contact us at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, providing quality services to the Greater Indianapolis area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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