Do you heat your Rancho Mirage, CA home with a gas furnace? If so, it’s no exaggeration to say that your life could depend on understanding how your system works. More specifically, it’s crucial to understand the signs and the risks of a cracked heat exchanger.

What Is a Heat Exchanger?

A gas furnace is extremely effective at generating hot air, but it poses a tricky problem. That heated air also contains noxious fumes, so blowing it directly into your home isn’t an option. Instead, the air is channeled through a long, looping chamber called a heat exchanger. As the hot air flows through the heat exchanger, it rapidly heats the metal walls of the chamber. At the same time, the furnace draws in cold air from the return ducts. The air warms as it blows across the heat exchanger’s surface, effectively separating the heat energy from the fumes.

A Cracked Heat Exchanger Is a Serious Hazard

As you can see, the heat exchanger is the key that allows a gas furnace to operate safely. However, repetitive heating and cooling cycles are hard on the chamber’s metal walls. Over time, this can cause the metal to crack and fail. A cracked heat exchanger may allow exhaust fumes to seep into the HVAC airflow. This mixture of gases and compounds can wreak havoc on indoor air quality, but the greatest danger is carbon monoxide. A colorless, odorless and virtually undetectable gas, carbon monoxide can cause a variety of health effects. In high concentrations, it can even lead to unconsciousness and death.

When to Call for Professional Furnace Services

Since time is of the essence, it’s important to spot heat exchanger problems as soon as possible. Early signs often include soot inside your furnace, pooling water on the floor, and signs of corrosion or stress cracks. You may also notice an unpleasant, formaldehyde-like odor when your furnace is running. Another warning sign is a burner flame that turns yellow or starts flickering. Finally, symptoms like headaches, confusion, fatigue, nausea, and respiratory irritation may indicate that fumes are entering your home.

Considering the risks, you can’t afford to take chances with a cracked heat exchanger. If you suspect a problem with your furnace, consider Vic’s Air Conditioning’s expert furnace repairs or dial 760-289-5998 for prompt and professional furnace services.

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