My Heat Exchanger Is Cracked: What It Means & What to Do

So your heat exchanger is cracked. Or that’s what your HVAC contractor (or heating-savvy family member) has told you. What does this mean? Is it a big deal? Is it actually time to go for a furnace replacement, or can a repair ge the job done? HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited is here to answer all of the above questions and more!

What Is the Heat Exchanger?

An exchanger is easily defined as any device that transfers energy (heat) between multiple fluids without these fluids making contact. In your heating system, for example, the heat exchanger is responsible for performing the heavy lifting—actually heating the air getting pumped through your vents and ducts.

To perform this function the exchanger, a set of looped or crunched coils with a liquid flowing in them, simply gets quite hot by combusting a fuel source or utilizing electricity. Then the blower motor assembly blows air over the exchanger and circulates the now warmer air into your home.

How Does a Heat Exchanger Crack?

Though quite hardy, a heat exchanger is still a mechanical part, and one that sees a considerable amount of use. In many cases a cracked exchanger is simply the result of age. However there are other potential sources of this uncommon problem, the foremost of which is poor furnace maintenance.

A furnace cycles on and off an average of 2500-4000 times in a single winter. That’s a ton of use, and it will take a toll if the part isn’t effectively maintained. Cleaning and checks are vital to the health of your exchanger, so never neglect this!

Is a Cracked Exchanger That Bad?

Unfortunately, very bad. In the vast majority of cases a failed or cracked exchanger will completely prevent a furnace from operating in the first place. And even if the furnace still ran, you wouldn’t want it to! Running a furnace system with a cracked exchanger can generate massive amounts of toxic carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide, as well as can open up your home to potential fire hazards.

What Do I Do If My Heat Exchanger Is Cracked?

Once an exchanger has been diagnosed as cracked, your only course of action is to act. This is going to mean one of two things: replacing the part and repairing the furnace, or replacing the entire furnace system. Which you choose can be a tough decision, as replacing an exchanger is often quite costly (an average range of 600-1800 depending on the system). In many cases it might be best overall to replace the unit entirely, especially if the furnace is five years old or older.

Don’t despair too much, though! The benefits of replacing an outdated furnace can be pretty big, and working with a trustworthy HVAC team can ensure the process is smooth, simple, and overall maximizes the benefits you stand to gain.

Professional Furnace Services in Fairfax County

Are you dealing with a cracked exchanger, or wrestling with whether to replace or repair your current heating system? If so the certified heating experts at HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited can help! With decades of experience and a history of complete customer satisfaction we’re the team that can help you get back to comfortable normalcy.

Contact us online today to find out more, or call (703) 454-5040 to speak to a heating expert today!