When you’ve had your furnace inspected by an HVAC expert and you get the news that you have a cracked heat exchanger, you may hear that you have two options: to repair the furnace’s heat exchanger or replace the furnace. Also known as a red-tagged furnace, the condition is a serious one that merits immediate attention. By law, the HVAC contractor has to disable the furnace.
Your third option is to get a second opinion. Not all cracks merit the designation of a red-tagged furnace and sometimes it’s difficult to see the cracks or fissures without special tools or diagnostic equipment. On the other hand, if your air conditioner’s condensation has created rust inside the air handler, the situation may be clearly visible.
The heat exchanger is the part inside your furnace that the burner heats, resting above or beside it. Forced air blows over it, which is how it warms your home. Cracks in it can emit carbon monoxide (CO) into your home, which makes it such a dangerous condition. When your furnace runs a lot, the CO builds in your home, creating a potentially deadly situation, which is why the furnace can’t be operated until it’s repaired or replaced.
Deciding which course of action to follow rests on whether you have an active warranty for your furnace that covers replacing the cracked heat exchanger, including the labor. It can take weeks to get the replacement part, during which time you’ll have to heat your home with portable heaters to keep the pipes from freezing if you get the diagnosis during the winter.
If the warranty has expired, your best choice is likely to be a furnace replacement, especially if your furnace is older than 10 years. New heating systems are far more energy efficient, and the cost of replacement can be recovered over time because you’ll spend less on heating fuels.
If you’d like to learn more about a cracked heat exchanger and what to do, contact Smoky Mountain Heating & Air. We provide HVAC services for the Asheville area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Asheville, North Carolina and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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