After repeatedly getting your family through the chilliest nights, your gas furnace heat exchanger can experience operational problems. To help you avoid the negative consequences of a broken furnace, we have compiled a list of telltale signs of damage to the heat exchanger and troubleshooting methods to fix the problem.
Signs of a Broken Heat Exchanger
Flames Are Yellow Instead of Blue
The color of the flames in a furnace are blue because the gas is ignited in a sealed combustion chamber. If the gas burners produce yellow flames, this is a sign of a crack in the heat exchanger. To prevent a gas leak, immediately call a licensed technician in your area to remove and replace the exchanger, flame sensor, and other damaged parts.
Collection of Dirt in the Heat Exchanger & Furnace
Soot and dirt accumulation in your heat exchanger could mean that the gas burner is tilted, the exchanger is cracked, or another similar issue. We’ll come out and expertly inspect your unit and consult you on the best solution.
Furnace is Producing Formaldehyde Odors
Has a strong chemical odor been spreading throughout your household? Call a certified contractor immediately to confirm if the source of the odors are formaldehyde fumes. These fumes are toxic to your family and pet(s). A technician has the necessary tools and equipment required to inspect and resolve issues with the heat exchanger in your gas furnace.
Water is Forming Around the Furnace
Puddles forming at the base of your heat exchanger may be normal if they are caused by condensation. However, if the outside of your furnace is dry, you will need to perform an inspection to confirm if the internal drain system is clogged. In addition, it’s important to check the humidifier and exchanger to confirm if these two components are damaged.
Collection of Cracks & Corrosion on the Exterior of the Furnace
It is normal for a furnace to show signs of deterioration as it reaches the middle of its life cycle. Although minor deterioration to the access panel is not a big deal, the disintegration of the heat exchanger in your gas furnace can cause a carbon monoxide leak. It’s important to hire a certified technician to inspect the gas valve, thermocouple, flame sensor, electric igniter, and other components in your furnace once a year.
How a Furnace Heat Exchanger Operates
Do you hear the rumble of your furnace fan kicking on? The furnace heat exchanger will activate when the thermostat detects the temperature in your home has decreased below the minimum set heat temperature. This causes combustible gas to flow into the chamber of the heat exchanger. Once the gas is ignited, the exterior walls of the exchanger will start to become warm. Next, the blower motor in the furnace is activated to collect cold air from each room in your house. The air is collected and distributed to the gas burners and heat exchanger through a return air duct.
As the cold air arrives at the furnace, it is circulated directly above the hot walls of the heat exchanger. The temperature of the cold air will start to increase as it passes the tubes of the heat exchanger. Next, the warm air will be dispersed by a network of supply air ducts to each room in your household. Meanwhile, the combustion gases are disbursed to the outdoors through a vent pipe. Once the sensor on the thermostat senses the interior air is equal to or above the set temperature, it will distribute an electrical signal to deactivate the furnace.
4 Causes of Cracks in Heat Exchangers
Aging is a common cause of heat exchanger cracks—but it’s not the only one. To help you monitor the condition of the components in your furnace, we have created a list of 4 types of problems that may be responsible for the holes and cracks in your heat exchanger.
Furnace is Too Large
If your last HVAC technician put in a furnace that was the wrong size, it negatively impacts the lifespan of the system. A furnace that’s too big for your house will perform an excessive amount of heat cycles in an hour. This will cause your heat exchanger to repeatedly expand and contract which wears it down. Additionally, the frequent heating cycles won’t allow condensation to evaporate from the inside of your furnace, producing rust on your heat exchanger.
Your furnace overheats and overworks your heat exchanger without free-flowing air. Stephens can visit you on a regular maintenance schedule to prevent dirty air filters and covered/closed air registers.
Is your furnace not igniting? The culprit of the problem may be poor airflow due to a contaminated air filter. If your furnace is not receiving a sufficient amount of air, this will cause the internal temperature of the furnace to become too warm. Once the furnace becomes too hot, the gas will not be able to circulate properly and the heat exchanger may split.
Furnace is Too Small
Just as your heat exchanger suffers under an oversized furnace, it will begin a rapid decline with an undersized one as well. Its size limits air from circulating properly and pushes your exchanger to overheat, crack, and potentially fail prematurely. If these concerns feel way too familiar, reach out to the Snell team so we can save your heat exchanger before you need to make a costly replacement.
Total Cost of Replacing a Heat Exchanger
Have you been told your gas furnace heat exchanger needs a replacement? Unfortunately, the total cost to replace this part is not cheap. Installing a new heat exchanger usually costs around $2,000 to $3,500. If your furnace is over 10 years old, or inadequately heats your home, you might want to consider replacing the entire unit. This can run anywhere from $4,500 to $12,000—depending on who you go to for help. Thankfully, Stephens Plumbing offers high-quality and affordable furnace replacement services. There’s no need to break the bank with us! Just book an appointment with our local technicians to receive assistance.
3 Signs It's Time to Purchase a New Furnace Instead of Replacing a Heat Exchanger
Need help deciding on whether or not to get a new furnace instead of purchasing a new heat exchanger? Consider the following factors for some additional guidance.
Minimal Amount of Warm Air
Is your furnace not heating your rooms correctly? If your family is beginning to feel hot and cold spots around your house, this could be because the furnace is inefficient, or it doesn’t fit your house. Either way, you’ll need to invest in an energy-efficient furnace. You’ll feel the difference for years to come with this fix!
Furnace is Over 10 Years Old
Is the furnace not working properly? Maybe even after going several years with or without issues continuously cropping up? You can check the age of your furnace by looking up the serial number (located on the furnace cover panel) on the manufacturer’s website. If a certified technician on our team installed your furnace, give our team a call to confirm the age of your system. You do not want to invest in a new heat exchanger when the furnace is already at the end of its life cycle.
System is No Longer Covered By Labor or Parts Warranties
Great news! Most manufacturers give out extended parts warranties for their heat exchangers. This covers the replacement of this part for 10 years or more. Keep in mind that a heat exchanger installation can take as long as 8 hours to complete. This means that the majority of the total cost to replace a heat exchanger can be attributed to labor. Some HVAC repair businesses offer labor warranties that last 1 to 5 years after the initial installation. This would be the time frame to replace your heat exchanger because the repair will be covered at least partially. If the heat exchanger breaks and your labor warranty is over, we recommend purchasing a new furnace.
Furnace Repair & Installation Services
You shouldn’t need to bundle up in your own home to keep warm in the winter! Have any of these problems prevented your family from feeling comfortable lately?
- Furnace Not Igniting
- Furnace Not Working
- Furnace Not Heating
Whether you need an emergency furnace repair or a thorough installation, Stephens Plumbing has excellent HVAC services available to residents like you. Even simple troubleshooting for a clogged air filter, tripped circuit breaker, or a flipped furnace switch is no problem for us! In addition, our team offers other types of HVAC solutions such as air conditioning repair and boiler installation. Our technicians are trained to work with gas, oil, electric, or propane furnaces so you’ll always get the best services. Schedule your appointment to tackle issues with your furnace not igniting or more. Contact a licensed technician on our team by phone at (630) 968-0783 or create an appointment online for reliable solutions every time.