Is Your Heat Exchanger Failing?

There are many different parts and pieces inside a furnace. Most of them are fairly easy to fix or replace if they fail, and their failure does not present any particular danger to the homeowner. Unfortunately, this is not really true of the heat exchanger. This component, which passes heat from the flame to the circulating air, can lead to CO poisoning if it fails. A failed heat exchanger can also increase your risk of a fire. As such, it is important that you, as a homeowner, keep your eyes out for these signs of a failing heat exchanger. Contact an HVAC repair team ASAP if you notice any of them.

Chemical Odors

When you venture down into the basement, pay attention to the scent of the air around your furnace. If it has a strange, chemical odor that you can't place, this is a sign of a cracked heat exchanger. Some say the smell reminds them of rubbing alcohol or fuel additive.

Orange Flame

There are many reasons why a furnace may burn with an orange flame. There could be a blockage in the gas line, or the burner might be dirty. But a broken heat exchanger is also a possibility. Don't assume your orange flame is no big deal. Contact an HVAC contractor to be safe. Even if this is not due to a broken heat exchanger, an orange flame does not produce a lot of heat, and repairs should be made to bring the flame back to blue.

Banging Noises

A banging noise when the heat first turns on is a sure sign of a broken heat exchanger. You're hearing the gas catch fire more promptly because it is being exposed to more air due to the crack in the heat exchanger. Even if the furnace seems to heat like usual after the bang, this bang is not something to ignore.


Short-cycling is when the furnace turns on and off repeatedly. It only stays on or off for a few minutes, at most. This can happen when the heat exchanger is broken and the furnace is tripping its own safety switch over and over again. 

A broken heat exchanger can be dangerous if you don't have it repaired ASAP. Luckily, HVAC contractors can almost always either repair the crack or replace the entire heat exchanger, solving this problem for you. It's a common repair and contractors usually know how to do it well. 

For more information, contact a local company like Heaney Plumbing & Heating.