The dangerous furnace malfunction we are referring to is a crack in the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is the part of a natural gas furnace where the heat from the combustion gas transfers to the air from the blower fan that moves into the ventilation system. To put it simply, the heat exchanger is the part that actually heats the air. Once the heating process is finished, the combustion byproducts in the heat exchanger are vented out of the system through a flue to release the gas harmlessly into the air.
Don’t panic just yet. Furnaces are not inherently dangerous, and often you have nothing to fret about. However, it is important to be aware that systems combusting natural gas have the potential to create health hazards if improperly maintained and repaired. That being said, the best way to avoid a dangerous situation is to schedule regular maintenance.
Why Is a Crack in the Heat Exchanger So Dangerous?
The metal on the heat exchanger expands and contracts as it heats and cools. Eventually, that stress might cause a crack. Another potential cause of a crack is corrosion, which can be attributed to the reaction between the combustion gas and the metal. This is something that most commonly occurs in older furnaces. Although the cracks may be small now, they will gradually increase in size as they expand with heat, thus allowing combustion gasses to escape and enter the airflow.
The most dangerous gas that can escape when there is a crack is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it extremely dangerous, and a leak should be taken very seriously. Always keep a carbon monoxide detector in your home if you use gas systems.
Warning Signs of a Crack
A clicking sound coming from the furnace as soon as the blower shuts off is an indicator of a cracked heat exchanger. Excessive corrosion also suggests a problem. You should also take notice of the flame appearance. A healthy flame should burn blue and steadily. An orange, yellow, or shaky flame should signal you to contact a professional. Lastly, if your carbon monoxide detector goes off, you must seek immediate attention to the issue. Remember, if it does go off, open as many windows as you can and move to a safer location until the danger has passed.
Importance of Maintenance and Repair
We certainly don’t want you to worry. The odds of this happening are very slim when you schedule regular maintenance and stay on top of any necessary furnace repair services. Aurora Plumbing is dedicated to helping you prevent problems from occurring. Regular maintenance and inspection allow our technicians to locate small issues before they become costly or dangerous. Plus, maintenance will keep your furnace running efficiently and effectively for many years to come!
Our father-daughter business has been providing the services in Denver, CO since 1984. Our technicians are NATE certified, meaning they have the experience and training needed to provide the best service around.