Carbon Monoxide: What You Can't See You Can Hurt You


Improper ventilation of fuel-burning exhaust and appliances from running car engines in attached garages are ordinarily associated with harmful carbon monoxide levels. Another potential source of carbon monoxide in your living room is the own furnace.

What's a heat exchanger and why is it crucial?

A furnace's heat exchanger is a metallic element which transfers heat from the gas being burnt while blocking the atmosphere in your home from blending with the furnace exhaust. At times the heat exchanger fails, either from cracks produced by continual expansion and contraction due to heat and cooling of the metal or by rust. When a heat exchanger fails under certain conditions--the exhaust gases, such as carbon dioxide, can combine with the air in the house. A properly running furnace should not create significant levels of carbon monoxide; however, a cracked or leaking heat exchanger can pose a security hazard.

A cracked heat exchanger could permit exhaust gas from the furnace to purify the household air with exhaust gases including carbon monoxide. In order for this to happen, the furnace has to be emitting high levels of carbon dioxide along with the exhaust gas must be combining with the household air.

What are the warnings of a cracked heat exchanger?

Besides a visual inspection to recognize a fracture, there are a couple warnings of a potential complication with your heat exchanger which you might observe. Should you turn the heat on and the fires flicker and seem devilish, this could be a hint that circulated air in the furnace is getting in the combustion area and you ought to have it analyzed by an HVAC technician. Although you hope it does not reach this stage, other features of difficulty include carbon monoxide detectors sounding and you personally or your loved ones feeling ill, lightheaded or nauseous. To ensure the safety of all occupants, all homes should have a properly functioning carbon monoxide detector and batteries should be replaced regularly.

How do I be confident that my heat exchanger has neglected?

As regular practice and in addition to physically observing the presence of a pit or crack, cameras have been used. Whenever possible, the technician will show clients the failed heat exchanger--or at least a photograph of it--so they can see for themselves. Furthermore, a specialist technician will test both the home and furnace for carbon monoxide. A properly running furnace shouldn't generate significant levels of carbon monoxide. The tech will then warn the clients of the risks associated with the failed part and supply expert information regarding next steps.

What happens after an HVAC technician diagnoses a cracked heat exchanger?

Once you have a confirmed diagnosis from an expert, your initial question will probably be if the component can be repaired or if replacement is the only option. Unfortunately, the industry standard is that the heat exchanger must be replaced.

In case my heat exchanger has neglected, do I have to replace the furnace?

While it might wind up making sense to replace the furnace instead of just the heat exchanger, that is not always the situation. Furnace warranties can vary--most furnaces have a 10-year warranty on the heat exchanger, while others are insured for 20 years or perhaps for the life of the furnace. Our technicians can allow you to look into the guarantee on your heat exchanger and provide all the information that you need to decide if replacing the heat exchanger or the whole furnace is ideal for you.

Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning suggests altering your carbon dioxide detectors every five years and checking your carbon monoxide detectors each month to make sure the batteries and alarm are working properly. And by maintaining with the normal upkeep of your gear, you'll have peace of mind knowing that it's going to be secure.