Troubleshooting Your Heat Exchanger: Common Problems

November 09, 2017

When it comes to heating system safety, heat exchangers play a pivotal role. In simple terms, this key furnace component contains the fumes formed during fuel combustion and keeps hazardous gases like carbon monoxide out of your home’s air supply. This makes it vital to stay aware of the condition of your heat exchanger so any developing issues can be addressed promptly. Here are some common problems with heat exchangers that may require troubleshooting:

Condensation-Related Corrosion

If you have a high-efficiency furnace with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating above 90 percent, problems with condensate drainage can result in corrosion and failure of the heat exchangers. Under normal conditions, the condensate that forms in the furnace is expelled through a drainage system, just like your air conditioner. If the drain isn’t flowing freely, condensation can collect in the heat exchanger and cause it to rust out. Condensation-related corrosion can affect your standard-efficiency furnace too, if the exhaust vent pipe isn’t large enough.

Metal Fatigue-Related Deterioration

Heat exchangers in furnaces built by reputable manufacturers are designed to endure repeated heating and cooling cycles over the equipment’s long lifespan. After years of use though, metal fatigue sets in and hairline cracks begin to form in the material. Age-related deterioration is inevitable, and it’s the main reason why furnaces are replaced. However, heat exchangers can also deteriorate prematurely from:

  • Inadequate system airflow from a badly-clogged filter or leaving some air vents closed. Restricted airflow causes overheating, which leads to early metal fatigue.
  • Fuel combustion issues with the burner that cause flame impingement or overheating that results in premature failure of the metal.

How to Prevent Heat Exchanger Issues

The best way to prevent heat exchanger-related problems is to have your heating system maintained yearly by an experienced HVAC pro. A skilled technician can clean the system, make any necessary burner adjustments, check for proper airflow and inspect the heat exchanger for corrosion and cracks to ensure that everything is working safely and reliably.

For expert help troubleshooting furnace heat exchanger problems in your Monmouth County home, contact us at Aggressive Mechanical Contractors.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Monmouth County, New Jersey and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).