Common Heat Exchanger Problems

Common Heat Exchanger ProblemsThe heat exchanger in your furnace is where the most important part of the heating process takes place, and as you also might guess, the place where problems are likely to arise. Learn how to take care of your heat exchanger so that it lasts a long time.

How Heat Exchangers Work

Heat exchangers consist of a sealed-off combustion chamber where burners, powered by oil or propane or natural gas, ignite to produce heat, which flows up through the coils and by means of a blower, is channeled into the duct system. The gas byproducts of the combustion process are exhausted into the flue.

What Can Go Wrong With Heat Exchangers

Heat exchangers are subjected to constant expanding and contracting of metal over time. Eventually, the metal may develop cracks, which can allow gases such as carbon monoxide to escape. When this happens, you will either have to replace the part, as cracks will only worsen and not get better, or replace the furnace. Sometimes replacing the furnace is the best option if the furnace is old.

Moisture in the gas may also condense on the heat exchanger, causing rust and corrosion, and eventually a hole. Just like cracks, holes allow gases to escape. They also can be a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Heat Exchanger

One of the best ways to prevent damage to the exchanger is to change the air filter regularly to maintain good air flow. Also, be sure your HVAC tech looks at the following during your annual fall inspection:

  • Checks for good air flow. Besides a dirty air filter, poor air flow can also be caused by closed-off vents, or by an oversized furnace, which works inefficiently so that the correct temperature is never achieved. Furnaces burn hotter when the air flow is poor, which can lead to cracks.
  • Inspects the burners for proper firing. Temperatures burn hotter when this happens, causing cracks.
  • Checks gas pressure. High gas pressure causes overheating.

For more on your taking good care of your heat exchanger, contact C.R. Wolfe Heating and Air Conditioning of Middletown.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heat exchangers and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482. 

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