What Causes a Cracked Heat Exchanger on My Furnace? Should I be Worried About my Family’s Safety?

The heat exchanger is an important and potentially dangerous component to your heating system. The heat exchanger is a set of coils or tubes inside the furnace that is responsible for heating the air in your home. These coils are contained within an airtight combustion chamber. The burner ignites the gas that enters the heat exchanger.  As the heat exchanger warms, the blower or fan motor forces air across it. The warm air is then circulated throughout your home for heat. This process produces exhaust gases, which are expelled outside the home through your furnace flue.

The heat exchanger is vital to heating your home all winter. Unfortunately, heat exchangers can crack and leak, which poses a potential threat to your family’s safety. When a heat exchanger cracks it can cause carbon monoxide to enter into your home. Carbon monoxide, also known as the “silent killer”, is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can be potentially life threatening.

What can you do to keep your family safe? First, always have carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Make sure you have at least one on every floor of your home. Now, let’s look at understanding what causes a cracked heat exchanger and how you can prevent it.

Poor Air Flow in Huntersville, NC

The number one culprit for poor airflow is a clogged air filter. When filters are clogged with dust and debris, it impedes return airflow back to the furnace.  If the return airflow is significantly reduced, the heat exchanger can become overheated and crack. Make sure to change your air filters regularly.

Undersized Return Air Flow in Mooresville, NC

When the return ductwork in your home is undersized, then your furnace does not receive the proper return airflow. Air needs to be evenly distributed throughout your home for your heating system to work efficiently. When there is too little return airflow, the heat exchanger may overheat and crack. Have your certified HVAC technician from Beaver Brothers, Inc. check your return to ensure it is sized properly for your heating system.

Oversized Furnaces That Short Cycle in Cornelius, NC

Another reason for a cracked heat exchanger may be that your furnace is too large for your home. When you have an oversized furnace, it will frequently cycle on and off again, causing your heat exchanger to expand and contract too frequently.  It is satisfying the thermostat temperature too quickly and not giving the furnace adequate run time. Eventually, this can lead to a cracked heat exchanger. The experts at Beaver Brothers are highly trained to determine the appropriate size furnace for your home. If we determine your home has an oversized furnace, it may be in the best interest of safety to replace the furnace.

Age of system

Normal use of your furnace causes wear and tear. The heat exchanger expands and contracts during the normal heating process. Years of expansion and contraction may lead to cracking. The experts at Beaver Brothers can help you determine the best solution for your home.

No Maintenance Can Shorten its Life

While heat exchangers will crack due to old age, a properly maintained furnace should last you approximately fifteen years. Proper care and regular maintenance from the team at Beaver Brothers, Inc. will maximize the life of your heat exchanger and furnace. If you have further questions, please contact us.