The Maynard Man may be known as “The Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Energy Expert,” but we care about your safety, too. That’s not to say that if you have a gas furnace, you’re inherently in danger. If you don’t take proper care of that gas furnace, however, the system itself could become a danger.
Look, we know you want to keep warm in your home, and we want to help you achieve that comfort. But part of the responsibility of having a gas furnace or any gas-powered appliance for that matter, is having it properly maintained. Professional heating maintenance allows our technicians to fully inspect, clean, and adjust the components of your system, checking for any repair needs in the process.
As your furnace ages, it’s more prone to certain repair needs, like a cracked heat exchanger. Read on as we dive further into this and why a damaged heat exchanger is a big deal.
Make sure to read this related article to learn more about signs that you need furnace repairs!
Understanding What the Heat Exchanger Does
The heat exchanger of your gas furnace is the device responsible for actually applying heat to the air that blows into your living space. Heat exchangers are clamshell-shaped metal chambers that collect combustion gasses when the furnace burners ignite.
The gasses heat up the walls of the heat exchanger, and air from your blower fan flows over them. This air picks up the heat and then keeps traveling through your ductwork into your living space. This is a very effective process and provides your home with efficient comfort.
How Can Heat Exchangers Become Damaged?
Throughout the years, the heat exchangers inside your gas furnace go through a lot of stress. Every time they’re heated up, the metal chamber expands, and when they cool down, they contract back down. Over time, this constant movement can lead to corrosion.
The keywords here are “over time”—this is a problem that is much more common in aging furnaces than newer ones. Our version of aging is 10-15 years—this is how long most well-designed furnaces last. Corrosion occurs over time as do other issues. Short-cycling, for instance, can create damage to other components in your system the longer you allow it to go on, including heat exchanger damage.
Why Damaged Heat Exchangers Are Bad News
When we talk about “cracks” in the heat exchanger, we’re not talking about large, noticeable damage. These cracks are more like micro fissures, often naked to the human eye. But the problem is, they open up when the heat exchangers get hot, and they can allow combustion gasses—namely carbon monoxide (CO)—to leak into your living space.
Carbon monoxide poisoning leads to hundreds of deaths and even fatalities each year in the U.S. and in many cases can be avoided by taking two important steps: Having CO detectors installed in your home, and maintaining your gas furnace!