Depending on the age of your furnace, a cracked heat exchanger probably means you need a new system.
A crack in your heat exchanger is no trivial matter. It’s the most common cause of excess carbon monoxide in a home. But the decision to repair or replace a heating unit can be difficult. There are some circumstances where it may make more sense to repair a cracked heat exchanger, but it often makes more sense to replace the furnace. Understanding the risks of a cracked heat exchanger and considering certain factors can help you make this important decision.
Why Cracks Occur in a Heat Exchanger
Every time your furnace turns on, the thin metal of the heat exchanger heats up. Repeated heating and cooling causes the metal to expand and contract. This constant cycle of expansion and contraction puts a strain on the metal, which eventually splits and cracks. Once a crack is present in the heat exchanger, carbon monoxide can enter a home’s heating ducts. This odorless, poisonous gas can kill both humans and animals quickly and silently. If this information convinces you to do one thing, it should be to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home immediately. And if you find a cracked heat exchanger, turn off the system off right away.
What to Do About a Cracked Heat Exchanger
Before moving forward with the decision to patch your heat exchanger, it’s important to consider the age and condition of your furnace. It’s possible to repair a cracked heat exchanger, but the repair is a costly one. So, the first thing to do is to check your furnace’s warranty. If the furnace is 10 years old or newer, it’s likely under some sort of protection agreement. Check your documentation or contact the installer to find out.
A typical furnace will last about 20 to 25 years. If your furnace is no longer under warranty, the decision becomes a little more difficult. The cost to repair could be about half the cost of a new system, but a new system will save you money on heating bills. The strides made in heating efficiency technology in just the last few years could make an upgrade worthwhile.
If your furnace is getting close to the 20-year mark, replacing the system is usually the best option. Combined with heating efficiencies, you’ll save more by replacing the system than repairing it because you’ll have to replace it in just a few years anyway.
Avoid a Cracked Heat Exchanger with Regular maintenance
Poor airflow and poor gas combustion increase the risk of cracks in the heat exchanger. Excess condensation can also collect in the heat exchanger, causing rust that leaves the metal weakened. But you won’t discover these problems if you don’t schedule regular maintenance. Carbon monoxide is a very real threat, but it’s also a preventable one. To avoid these problems in the future, call MM Comfort Systems at 425-533-9058 or use our online contact form to schedule regular maintenance appointments for your furnace.