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What is a cracked heat exchanger and why does it matter?

A gas fired furnace has an internal chamber used to create heat. This chamber is a heat exchanger and over time can see damage. A large amount of homes in the Sacramento area are heating by gas and default have a furnace.

Given enough time in a home and under the right conditions a heat exchanger is going to fail. The constant heating and cooling of a heat exchanger can lead to a crack or a breach. Once a heat exchanger has cracked it has failed. The manufactures are very clear about this stance. If there is ever a question if a crack is considered a failure the literature from the manufacture typically states "A crack is a failed part"

Other issues that lead to the failure of a heat exchanger

There are a few things besides age that can lead to a heat exchanger to crack. If you do not have proper air flow though your furnace you run the risk of cracking a heat exchanger prematurely. A dirty filter or ductwork that is not sized properly can lead to premature failure of your furnace.

If a furnace is over fired or underfired you run the risk of cracking a heat exchanger. The settings of the gas valve do need to becalibrated to your home and the gas input from your gas provider.

Types of inspections for cracked heat exchangers

Inspections of heating systems with cracked heat exchangers can happen a few ways:

  • Visual inspection
  • Visual inspection with a mirror
  • Visual inspection with a camera

Some furnaces can be inspected by looking through a service port or from removing the blower motor in the furnace.

There are times where a mirror is needed to see inside the furnace to inspect the heat exchanger

A special type of camera can be used to help see a crack in a heat exchanger

If a technician is telling you there is a crack in your heat exchanger there are multiple ways to show you.

Certified inspections for cracked heat exchangers

There are not may entities that teach how to look at a furnace to determine if there is a crack in your heat exchanger. There are 2 different companies that show the proper way to look at a heat exchanger. Out of the 65,000 heating and air service technicians in the United States roughly 1,000 technicians are taught how to look at your heat exchanger yearly. You have less than a 2% chance to find a technician that knows what they are talking about when it comes to talking about the damage to a heat exchanger. A technician that has been trained to look at a heat exchanger typically has certification to prove it.

Heat exchanger warranties

Every manufacturer has different times they will provide a warranty for a cracked heat exchanger. Some warranties are 5 years, 10 years, 20 years or a lifetime. If you are not the original owner there may be a reduced warranty.

If you are having a heat exchanger replaced under warranty you will want to make sure it does not happen again. The furnace should be properly sized to your home, the gas setting should be correct and your ductwork issues should also be taken care of.

Most of the time homes do not have enough return air to support the furnace or the heat exchanger so they are enlarged to accommodate the right amount of air flow.

Second opinions on creaked heat exchangers

If you would like a second opinion on a cracked heat exchanger we would love to take care of you and help you out. We do provide a complementary 2nd opinion on cracks in heat exchangers. If you would like a qualified technician to take a look and confirm a cracked heat exchangerJust Call 916-714-1143 and let the friendly representative know you would like a free second opinion. Since it does take some time to disassemble a furnace these appointments can take 30 – 60 minutes. 

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