The Dangers of a Failed Heat Exchanger

The dangers of a cracked heat exchanger!

A heat exchanger in a gas furnace is basically a chamber that moves the hot burning gasses as hot air is pushed over them and disbursed through your home. The purpose of the heat exchanger is basically explained in its name. This part of your furnace exchanges heat from the burning gasses to the air while keeping the dangerous fumes and carbon monoxide separated from the air inside your home. When the heat exchangers in your gas furnace are working properly, the harmful gasses are vented through a flue pipe or exhaust system where they are of no harm to your home.

But if the heat exchanger begins to rust, deteriorate, and eventually crack, it is considered a “failed” heat exchanger. This means that the hot gasses and fumes from your furnace are no longer contained safely and could be mixing with the air that is being circulated through your home.

What does a failed heat exchanger look like?

Here we have examples of two different heat exchangers. The heat exchanger on the left is in good condition and doesn’t show any signs of failure or present a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning to the home. This heat exchanger is properly functioning and can safely provide heat to the home.

The heat exchanger on the left is a failed heat exchanger and you can see a large hole is visible on the bottom. A heat exchanger in a condition like this is very dangerous the home and poses a very serious health risk to the residents of the home. A cracked or deteriorating heat exchanger should be replaced immediately to avoid serious health hazards and even potential deadly amounts of poisonous Carbon Monoxide.

Many heat exchangers may not have immediately visible failures or damage because most times the heat exchanger fails on the bottom near the blower wheel. This part of the furnace is often the hardest to see and access. That is why it is very important to have a semi-annual, or annual inspection of your gas furnace to ensure it is functioning properly and safely in your home.

Have a gas furnace? You should have carbon monoxide detectors!

If you have a gas furnace, oil furnace, or wood stove in your home and you depend on it as your primary heat source, you should have carbon monoxide detectors installed by a professional. There is a great danger when carbon monoxide gas is released inside a home and it can pose a serious medical or life threatening situation to you and your family. It’s better to be safe and have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home and keep their battery backups fresh with new batteries on a regular basis.

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