As a key part of your heating system, your heat exchanger plays a crucial role in keeping your home warm and comfortable during the cold months. But if the heat exchanger has become cracked, it’s doing more harm than good for your home.

In the alters blog post from Rusk Heating & Cooling, we’ll discuss what heat exchangers do, why a cracked one is so dangerous, and what you can do if your heat exchanger has developed cracks. Continue reading to learn more, and get in contact with our team for furnace services in the Greater Cincinnati area.

What Does a Heat Exchanger Do?

Heat exchangers can be found in furnaces and are vital in creating heat for a home. They’re responsible for transferring thermal energy from one place to another. 

In a typical gas furnace, the heat exchanger heats up the combustion gases produced by burning fuel. As the warm combustion gases pass through the heat exchanger, their thermal energy is efficiently transferred to the surrounding air, which is then circulated throughout the living space, providing warmth and comfort. 

This process ensures that the combustion gases and indoor air remain separate, preventing any potentially harmful byproducts, like carbon monoxide, from entering your home

Why is a Cracked Heat Exchanger Dangerous?

Furnaces that burn fuel will naturally create carbon monoxide as a byproduct. If your furnace’s heat exchanger is in good condition, any carbon monoxide will be dispersed to the outside air where it can harmlessly dissipate. 

However, if your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, you’re vulnerable to carbon monoxide exposure. Any cracks or holes within the heat exchanger can allow carbon monoxide to escape and enter your home. 

When carbon monoxide is released into your living space, it can accumulate rapidly, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. This can present itself in the form of nausea, dizziness, headaches, and confusion. In severe cases, carbon monoxide exposure can be fatal.

The Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

If your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, you may notice the following signs:

  • Strange Odors: Unusual or noxious odors, often described as a “burnt” or “metallic” smell, can be an indicator of a cracked heat exchanger.
  • Soot and Debris Buildup: Excessive soot buildup inside the heating system or around the registers and vents may indicate a problem with the heat exchanger.
  • Uneven Heating or Cooling: If you notice inconsistent heating or cooling in your home or hot and cold spots, it could be a sign of compromised heat exchange.
  • Visible Cracks or Holes: If you can see visible cracks, rust, or holes in the heat exchanger, it is a clear indication that it needs immediate attention.
  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Carbon monoxide leaks are often attributed to cracked heat exchangers. If the carbon monoxide detectors in your home are going off, exit the property immediately. 

What To Do About a Cracked Heat Exchanger

If you suspect or have confirmed that your heating system has a cracked heat exchanger, it’s imperative to address the issue promptly. Here’s what you can do if you’re dealing with a cracked heat exchanger:

  • Shut Down the System: Turn off the heating or cooling system and do not use it until the heat exchanger has been inspected and repaired or replaced. If the carbon monoxide detector has gone off, evacuate your home immediately and call emergency services
  • Contact a Professional: Reach out to a qualified HVAC technician or specialist who can inspect the heat exchanger and heating system, and repair or replace the exchanger if necessary.
  • Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in bedrooms, living rooms, and any other area of the home where your family frequently spends time.

Contact Rusk for Furnace Services in the Greater Cincinnati Area

Homeowners throughout the Greater Cincinnati area can count on Rusk Heating & Cooling to deliver high-quality heating and cooling solutions.

If you’re in need of furnace repair or replacement services within the area, don’t hesitate to give our qualified, professional team a call.