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When a Furnace Has a Cracked Heat Exchanger, Can It Be Repaired?

question-mark-badgeMore than 64 million homes in the U.S. use natural gas to supply them with heat during cold weather, and most of these homes use a furnace for the job. It’s not surprise that gas furnaces remain the #1 option for winter comfort: they can deliver high levels of heat and deliver them fast—all without putting a huge drain on a household’s budget.

Using natural gas, however, brings with it a few cautions. Although gas furnaces are constructed to be as safe as possible, there are potential hazards they can run into. The most concerning one is the cracked heat exchanger. When this happens, can the problem be repaired? Or is it time for a new furnace installation altogether?

A cracked heat exchanger is a serious problem

The reason a crack in a heat exchanger is such a cause for concern—and reason to think about replacing a furnace—is because it creates a major health hazard. The heat exchanger is a metal container inside the furnace that collects hot combustion gas from the burners. The heat from the gas transfers to the metal walls, causing the exchanger to burn hot. Air from the blower moves around the exchanger and picks up the heat before it passes into the ventilation system. The leftover combustion exhaust in the exchanger is then sent out a flue to harmlessly escape to the outside.

But, if the exchanger has cracks in it, the toxic combustion gases (mostly carbon monoxide) can enter into the air that’s being blown into the rooms. This is a huge health concern.

Can the exchanger be repaired or replaced?

The best way to repair a cracked heat exchanger is to remove it and put in a new one. This doesn’t require replacing other parts of the furnace. However, it’s an expensive repair. Often a repair that’s too expensive compared to having a new furnace put in. A good rule of thumb is that any repair job that would cost more than half the price of a new furnace installation is a poor investment. You’ll save more money in the long run with a new furnace.

Cracked heat exchangers usually occur in old furnaces

Something else to consider: a cracked heat exchanger is something that happens most often in a furnace that is 15 years old or more. The long reaction of combustion gas and metal leads to corrosion that weakens the exchanger and allows cracks to form. An expensive repair for a furnace that’s this old isn’t worth it. You should already be thinking about replacement options, since the furnace will soon rack up more and more repairs while losing energy efficiency with each year. With a replacement, you’ll have a more efficient furnace that will remain repair-free (as well as worry-free) for years to come.

No matter if it turns out you need a furnace replacement or a smaller furnace repair in Plymouth, IN, we’re the trusted contractor to call. We’ll help you make the best decision for your family and your budget when it comes to heating.

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