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Clawson Heating & Air Conditioning Blog

Watch Out for a Cracked Heat Exchanger in a Gas Furnace

gas-flames-furnace

Although a gas furnace can potentially create safety hazards in a home, this is true of any gas appliance. It doesn’t mean a gas furnace is inherently unsafe, otherwise they would never be allowed in homes in the first place. The modern furnace is built with safety uppermost and there are many features designed to keep the system running without danger.

However, it’s important for you as a furnace owner to understand a few of the dangers that could occur so you know to watch out for them and when to call us for an inspection. We can see if you need furnace repair in Hillsboro, OR to keep your heating system safe or if you need to have a new furnace installed.

In this post, we’ll examine one potential furnace problem that can become unsafe and how to look out for it: the cracked heat exchanger.

The Job of the Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is the part of the furnace that warms up the air pushed through the furnace and into the ventilation system. It’s a metal chamber where hot combustion gases collect, raise the temperature of the metal, then transfer the heat from the metal’s surface to the air. Once the heating cycle is completed, the remaining exhaust gas in the heat exchanger escapes through a flue.

The Danger of the Cracked Heat Exchanger

The combustion gases in the heat exchanger include exhaust fumes that are deadly to breathe. If the heat exchanger develops cracks along its surface, which can occur because of corrosion of years of the metal expanding and contracting, these harmful gases will enter the air sent into the house. This is a dangerous situation.

Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

If you notice an odd clicking sound from the furnace after the blower motor turns off, it can be a sign of cracks in the exchanger. We recommend you shut off the furnace at the furnace switch and call us to inspect the unit to see if there are cracks. 

Also, watch out for any corrosion on the furnace. It may not have reached the exchanger, but don’t take chances—get us to see if the furnace is damaged and needs to be repaired or replaced.

If you smell gas or the CO detectors go off, shut off the gas and leave the house immediately. Contact the gas company first and stay out of the area. The gas company will be able to tell you when the danger has passed and if it was a problem with the furnace. After that, call us to have the system repaired—although if the furnace is more than 15-years-old, it will almost certainly need to be replaced because this is a major safety worry.  

Maintenance Is Your Best Prevention Tool

Regular heating maintenance each fall gives our technicians a chance to catch cracks or the beginnings of cracks in the heat exchanger. This is the best way to stop the problem before it even gets started. If you haven’t scheduled your regular furnace maintenance for the fall yet, please do so—it’s a safety priority! 

Call Clawson Heating & Air Conditioning when you need heating repair work in Greater Portland. “Connecting People to Comfort!”

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