First, before we go farther, we want to stress that natural gas furnaces are not “risky” devices to have in your home. They aren’t ticking time bombs that will eventually become hazardous, and they aren’t something to worry about each time one comes on. If they were any of these things, they would never be allowed into homes in the first place. The modern gas furnace is built with a high priority on safety.
However, burning natural gas—as with burning any combustible energy source—can create dangers without the proper precautions. The company that manufactured your gas furnace already took most of the major precautions. You’ll need to take a few of them yourself to ensure your furnace operates at the highest levels of safety. Specifically, you want to watch out for this malfunction: a cracked heat exchanger.
Why a Cracked Heat Exchanger Is Dangerous
The heat exchanger is the metal part of the interior of the furnace the does the actual heating of the air that moves through the furnace and into the ductwork. You’ll easily recognize it as the series of clam-shaped metal chambers above the burners inside the furnace. The hot combustion gas from the burners gathers in the exchanger, heats up the metal walls, and then transfers the heat to the air that moves past the exchanger. Once the heating cycle is finished, the exhaust of the combustion gas escapes through a flue and out of the furnace and the house.
If the metal of the heat exchanger has cracks in it, the toxic gases inside the exchanger can slip out and enter the air, creating a harmful situation. The metal can crack because of the years of stress on the heat exchanger and it expands and contracts. Corrosion due to poor ventilation can also lead to a cracked heat exchanger.
Detecting This Problem
The best way to catch a cracked heat exchanger or one that’s corroding before it becomes dangerous is to always schedule annual maintenance for your furnace before it turns on for the winter. Professional HVAC technicians will spot the trouble during the inspection and then arrange for either furnace repair in Flower Mound, TX or furnace replacement. (It depends on the age of the furnace and cost of the repair.)
You may also hear a strange clicking sound from your furnace soon after the blower fan turns off. This can warn of a cracked heat exchanger. Shut the furnace off and have it inspected ASAP.
If your home’s CO detectors go off, alerting you to high carbon monoxide levels, this may also be due to a cracked heat exchanger. But don’t worry about that in the moment: evacuate your home and call the gas company. Later you can arrange for technicians to examine the furnace.
Only Allow Professionals to Work on Your Furnace
The only people permitted to work on an appliance connected to a gas main are licensed technicians. Please don’t attempt to investigate a malfunctioning furnace on your own! Go straight to our team and we’ll ensure your furnace is fixed/replaced right and your household kept safe.
Frymire Home Services serves the Dallas and Fort Worth Area. Call us for a Higher Degree of Comfort.