We want people to know that gas furnaces are not dangerous to have in their homes. If gas furnaces presented high safety risks, they would never be allowed in houses in the first place. But natural gas furnaces can potentially create health hazards if they’re neglected and don’t receive repair work promptly.
In this post, we’re going to look at a gas furnace malfunction that can turn dangerous for a household. It’s a cracked heat exchanger, and it can lead to the leak of carbon monoxide into the living spaces of a house.
The Heat Exchanger
First: what is a heat exchanger? It is the part of the furnace responsible for transferring the heat from the combustion gas to the air that goes into the ventilation system. The combustion gas cannot come into direct contact with the air because it would place harmful gases into the air. Instead, the gas enters a metal chamber—the heat exchanger—and raises the temperature of the chamber walls. The blower fan pushes air around the heat exchanger and the air heats up before heading into the ventilation ducts. The remaining gases in the heat exchanger escape outside through a flue.
When the Heat Exchanger Cracks
A heat exchanger is made of durable metal and can withstand years of heating the air without trouble. However, the constant expansion of the metal due to heat places stress on it. If the metal weakens because of corrosion, the stress can cause a crack to form on the exchanger. The crack may appear small, but it widens when the metal expands and may allow the harmful combustion gases to escape and seep into the air.
Corrosion can appear on a heat exchanger because of poor ventilation of exhaust vapor through the flue. Long exposure to the exhaust vapor may also cause it, although this will only happen when the furnace is at an advanced age. This is one of the reasons we recommend people never push their furnace far past its expected service life, even if it outwardly seems to be working well.
Protecting Your House From a Cracked Exchanger
There are two important ways you can defend your family from the potential harmful effects of a cracked heat exchanger:
- Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and that they are working. Test them every six months. You can have battery-powered detectors or hard-wire detectors into the home’s electrical system. Leave the house if the alarms go off and call the gas company. Worry about repairs to the furnace later.
- Have the furnace professionally inspected each fall. The inspection will catch if corrosion or cracks have appeared on the heat exchanger. A professional can also tell you when a furnace is getting too old to remain safe.
In some cases, a furnace repair in Cherry Hill, NJ can take care of a heat exchanger by replacing it. But in most situations—particularly with a furnace that’s more than 15 or 20 years old—a cracked exchanger means it’s best to have a full furnace replacement.
You can trust us to help you find the best choices for your heating concerns.
Gibson Heating & Cooling serves the Cherry Hill, NJ area. Call us as soon as you think you need furnace repairs.