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What you need to know about a cracked heat exchanger

gas furnace

Your furnace is one of the most important appliances in your home. If running properly, it keeps you warm during the St. Louis winters and doesn’t pose any safety threats to you or your family.

However, as with any gas appliance, if your furnace is damaged it could be a safety hazard and might be releasing unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in your air. Of all the parts of your furnace, the one that is most often linked to safety threats in your home is the heat exchanger.

What is a heat exchanger?

When you turn on your furnace, the burners light a flame that produces the hot gases that help heat your home. The first place that those gases pass through is the heat exchanger.

The heat exchanger is a metal chamber where those gases cool down before they are pushed through to your home’s venting system. Although there are dangerous gases that reside in the heat exchanger, they don’t pose any safety threats if your unit is undamaged.

Why is a cracked heat exchanger dangerous?

Due to normal wear and tear of your furnace over time, your heat exchanger can develop cracks that reach all the way through its metal walls. If that’s the case, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can mix with the air in your home due to leaking and the potential for flame rollout.

If the CO levels of your home get too high, it can cause illness, shortness of breath or even death.

How can I protect my home from a cracked heat exchanger?

The most important safety measure you can take to protect your home from a cracked heat exchanger is to have your furnace inspected yearly by a certified technician. The technician will be able to identify cracks in your unit and can help you decide if you should replace just your heat exchanger or your entire unit.

It’s also important to install carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home. These will sound an alarm if the CO content of your air becomes dangerously high.

If you have any questions about your heat exchanger or are worried about visible cracks in your unit, contact Jerry Kelly, your St. Louis area heating and cooling company.