A forced-air furnace almost always uses combustible fuel to create heat. The heat exchanger is a crucial part of the system, taking heat created by the burning gas and transferring it safely to the distribution, or duct, system. When you have a hole or crack in the heat exchanger, the air can pick up carbon monoxide and other combustion byproducts and blow them through your home, creating a dangerous environment.
When utility workers or HVAC technicians detect a crack, they’re obliged to red tag the furnace, cap off the fuel supply and turn the power to the unit off. The red tag can either be an actual red strip of cloth or paper, or a document indicating the furnace has been shut off for safety reasons. Homeowners whose equipment is red-flagged must decide whether to install a new heat exchanger or get a new heating system. If the heating equipment is still covered by a warranty, it may be worth fixing the system. In most cases if the heat exchanger is not in warranty it is better to replace the entire heater.
If your heating system is old and inefficient or your warranty has expired, you may want to consider a new furnace or heating system. The costs associated with replacing a heat exchanger for an older unit may not be worth the investment. By the time the exchanger develops cracks, the likelihood of other parts failing is also high. New systems use less fuel to create more heat, and although a new heater may cost a lot, over the longer term, these costs will be offset by better efficiency.
Deciding to repair or replace is never an easy choice, and it involves choosing an HVAC company that can guide you through the decision-making process. We at CCAC, Inc. can help you make a decision about your furnace when you have a cracked heat exchanger. We serve homeowners in the Corpus Christi and Coastal Bend region. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnaces and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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