If you’re like many homeowners in the Nashville area, then you have a gas-powered furnace in your home to keep your family warm. This is a great choice–both powerful and cost-effective! Today’s furnace models have higher efficiency ratings than ever before, with the highest annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating being 98%!
In addition to efficiency, you should always be able to rely on furnace safety in your home too. This isn’t to say that gas-powered furnaces are dangerous by nature. However, if you don’ take care of your system the right way, it can become harmful. Why?
Because of something called the heat exchanger. It’s not the heat exchanger that causes potential harm, but rather a damaged heat exchanger that can cause problems. Read on to learn more!
What Is the Heat Exchanger?
The heat exchanger of your gas furnace is the component actually responsible for heating the air in your home.
What happens is that combustion gases fill up the heat exchanger–a clam-shell-shaped chamber–and heat up the metal walls of the component. Then, your blower fan blows air over the heat exchangers, which is how the air gets warmed up.
Then the warm air goes through your ductwork and into the various rooms of your home.
So, the metal walls of the heat exchanger are the only thing that stands between your indoor air and the combustion gases that collect inside.
The Harm of a Damaged Heat Exchanger
Throughout the years, wear and tear will have an impact on your furnace, including the heat exchangers. Every time the heat exchangers heat up, the metal walls expand. They contract when they cool down, and after years of this, the heat exchangers become susceptible to corrosion and subsequent cracks.
The cracks that form in heat exchangers are very small–invisible to the naked eye. However, when the heat exchangers get hot again, they expand. This allows the cracks to open up, which enables combustion gas to leak out.
When a furnace is ventilated properly, this may not be an issue. However, there’s one gas in particular that can be harmful if it does enter your indoor air–carbon monoxide (CO).
CO poisoning is actually one of the leading causes of in-home illnesses and fatalities. We say this not to scare our customers, but to stress the importance of taking care of your furnace heat exchangers! The best way to take care of them is to stay on top of scheduling annual furnace maintenance.
It’s also vital that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home so that you are adequately warned if there is too much CO exposure within your living space.