November 9, 2018

The Dangers of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

The Dangers of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

Have you noticed an odd chemical odor when you turn on your heating system? Does it smell like preservative or formaldehyde? Perhaps you might conclude that something near your unit gets too hot or someone has spilled a cleaning solution inside your home. You’ll be lucky if that is the case, but what if the problem already lies in your heat exchanger?

Is this something you need to take seriously? The simplest answer to that is YES! Read on and be guided about the dangers that a cracked heat exchanger can bring and what you can do about it.

What Causes Heat Exchangers To Crack?

There are three common reasons why heat exchangers get cracked. One is if your furnace is already on its last leg. After years of regular use, the components of your furnace may wear out and break. Your heat exchangers are not an exception to this condition.

Cracks may also develop for new units because of limited airflow. This happens when many of your registers are closed or blocked, your air filter is congested, or the air duct is obstructed with dirt and dust. Poor airflow allows pressure to build up inside the unit and causes the exchanger to crack.

Another common reason is an oversized furnace. If your furnace is too big for your home, it might turn on and off frequently. As a result, the heat exchanger constantly expands and contracts, which eventually leads to cracks.

What Danger Does A Cracked Heat Exchanger Present?

Furnaces produce dangerous gases as by-products of its operation. For safety purposes, these gases should be vented out of your home properly. However, with a cracked heat exchanger, these hazardous gases can leak out and pass through your home’s air supply. This is the reason why you smell chemical odors inside.

Another serious issue that a cracked heat exchanger may bring you is the danger of CO poisoning.  Carbon monoxide is referred to as a silent killer. Too much exposure to this can cause serious illnesses and even death.

What Should You Do About a Cracked Heat Exchanger?

First, be sure that your carbon monoxide detector is functioning properly. If it alarms, open your window for added ventilation, leave your home, and seek medical help immediately. If your CO detector is not yet alerting you to any danger but you suspect a crack in your heat exchanger, set an appointment to your trusted HVAC technician immediately for a proper solution.


When it comes to cracked heat exchangers, our experts at Environmental Heating and Cooling recommend you replace your entire furnace instead of replacing the heat exchanger only for it will give a less difference in the expenses. If you need a free estimate on a new unit, you can always give us a call!

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