Typical Heat Exchanger Problems

Typical Heat Exchanger ProblemsIf you have a gas- or oil-powered furnace, it has a heat exchanger. This part has been called the “heart” of any gas- or oil-powered furnace, and that is pretty apt. The heat exchanger in your furnace produces the heat that keeps your home comfortable.

How a Heat Exchanger Does Its Job

Here’s how it works: a series of loops or coils run through the air flow part of the furnace, while the fuel — propane, natural gas, or oil — powers the burners in the combustion chamber. As the burner flames produce heat inside the chamber, the byproducts of the process are exhausted through the flue. Meanwhile, the blower or fan blows air against the outside of the exchanger, heating the air, which is then channeled into the ductwork.

What Can Go Wrong

Heat exchangers generally last a long time. However, over the years, expansion and contraction can cause minute cracks in the metal. When that happens, gases, such as deadly carbon monoxide, can leak out and endanger all living creatures in your house.

Rust from the moisture in the gas can also cause holes, leading to leaking gases.

Other factors that lead to leaks include:

1. High gas pressure. When airflow is insufficient, which happens when the furnace is oversized and the ductwork is undersized, overheating can result, which leads to metal fatigue.

2. Too much airflow. This situation can cause below-normal temperatures. If vent gases aren’t kept at a high-enough temperature to keep the moisture in gas from condensing in the wrong place, corrosion can result.

What Needs to Be Done

Yearly furnace maintenance can help prevent cracks and corrosion. Your tech will monitor gas pressure and improve airflow by properly setting fan speeds, cleaning coils and keeping the filter changed.

Your tech will also check for cracks with a telescoping camera. If a crack is discovered, you will either need to replace the heat exchanger if it is under warranty, or replace the furnace.

For more on how to keep your heat exchanger in good running order, contact Cool Power. We’ve served Long Island since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hauppauge, New York and the Long Island area 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 631-292-0629. 

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