Perhaps you haven’t thought about your furnace in a while. You certainly haven’t had to use it! But now is the best time to think about your furnace and what it might need. You want to avoid needing furnace repairs, having breakdowns, or allowing an unsafe situation to develop during the winter when you really need your heat. So while you have plenty of time, you should consider how your furnace performed last winter and whether you had any concerns about it. And you should learn a bit about the heat exchanger, the component that keeps you and your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, so that if a problem does occur, you’ll be able to resolve it quickly and safely.
Your Heat Exchanger
In a gas furnace, the combustion gasses are kept separate from the air you breathe by the heat exchanger. Air passes over the outside of the heat exchanger and absorbs heat from it, and this warmed air is circulated through your home. It is made of metal, and as it does its vital job, it is constantly heating up and cooling down. These temperature fluctuations cause expansion and contraction. Eventually, over years of operation, it’s possible for that cycle to weaken the metal, and for a crack to appear. When the heat exchanger is cold, the metal contracts, and the crack will squeeze shut. But when it’s in use, and it heats up again, the expansion can cause the crack to open, allowing those gasses to escape.
Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger
If there’s a crack in your heat exchanger, you might hear ticking, clicking, banging, popping, or whistling as the furnace is running. The flame of your furnace might no longer burn blue, because oxygen getting into the gas will affect the color, turning it green or yellow. Soot may accumulate inside the furnace cabinet. And an unpleasant, eggy smell might be noticeable. But the scariest indicators have to do with the carbon monoxide that’s escaping.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Breathing carbon monoxide can be fatal. Before it gets to that point, people who are exposed to carbon monoxide experience headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, and problems with their vision. It’s absolutely critical to have functioning carbon monoxide detectors in order to avoid this risk.
How to Be Safe This Coming Winter
The best thing you can do to ensure that your heat exchanger is in good condition before winter is to have a professional assess your furnace. Annual maintenance is strongly recommended for any furnace, because it improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the heating, decreases the likelihood of repairs being needed, and helps make sure your furnace will have as long a lifetime as possible. But if you have a gas furnace that is getting on in age, especially if you have any reason to think you might need furnace heat exchanger replacement in San Marcos, TX, your safety is the most important reason to have maintenance done.
At Thayer Air Conditioning, your comfort is our #1 priority! Contact us today.