Can a Cracked Heat Exchanger be Dangerous?

Modern furnace systems are overall very safe to own and operate, when installed properly and cared for over the years. While these mechanical systems can suffer various issues, only a few problems create a danger for those in the home – a cracked heat exchanger is one of them. Sanborn’s Air Conditioning & Heating explains the dangers of a cracked heat exchanger and what signs you may notice if you have one.

Dangers of Cracked Heat Exchangers

The dangers of a cracked heat exchanger mainly stem from the possibility of carbon monoxide exposure. To understand why this is so, you need to know how the heat exchanger works within the gas furnace.

As the burners combust fuel, heat is created. Combustion occurs within a sealed chamber inside the furnace, and the heat and byproducts produced by this process move into the heat exchanger to allow the furnace to heat air. The heat exchanger increases in temperature, so air flowing over this component gains heat before it exits the furnace and travels to the home’s living areas. These byproducts will vent out of the furnace via the flue pipe.

A crack in the heat exchanger means combustion byproducts could escape and mix with the air supply that circulates throughout the home. Carbon monoxide is one byproduct of combustion, and exposure to this gas can be deadly.

Another danger associated with a cracked heat exchanger is the possibility of a furnace fire. If gas builds up inside the furnace and is erroneously released through a crack in the heat exchanger, it could combust in another area of the system where it is not contained. This could lead to a fire breaking out in the furnace, which has the potential to spread to the rest of the home, posing a serious danger to occupants as well as the structure.

Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

Because the dangers of a cracked heat exchanger are quite serious, it’s important that you know the signs that tell you this problem may exist inside your furnace. While regular maintenance tune ups are very helpful in identifying heat exchanger cracks and preventing the dangers of a cracked heat exchanger, you should still be mindful of these symptoms between maintenance services.

  • Yellow flames from furnace burners instead of blue
  • Excessive soot around and inside the natural gas furnace
  • Odors similar to formaldehyde from the furnace or vents
  • Corrosion visible on internal components or on the outside of the furnace
  • Condensation pooling on the floor around the furnace
  • You experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home
  • The carbon monoxide detector in your home goes off
  • Lack of heat from the furnace

What to Do If You Suspect a Cracked Heat Exchanger

To avoid the dangers of a cracked heat exchanger, stop using your furnace immediately if you suspect its heat exchanger has been damaged in some way or has developed a crack. Call an HVAC professional to inspect the furnace and examine the heat exchanger. If the gas furnace’s heat exchanger is cracked, it will need to be replaced in order to prevent further dangers of a cracked heat exchanger when you go to use your furnace again.

Contact Sanborn’s for Furnace Repair in Redlands, CA

Don’t let your loved ones be harmed by the dangers of a cracked heat exchanger. Watch for the signs above and call Sanborn’s Air Conditioning & Heating when you first notice trouble. We perform furnace repairs for homeowners in Redlands, CA and the surrounding communities.