Your HVAC system is made up of several components that must work in harmony to keep your home comfortable. The heat exchanger, a series of coils that heat the air before it's blown out through the registers, is one of the most critical components of any furnace. If your heat exchanger breaks, it isn't only inconvenient, it's potentially dangerous.
Here are a few signs of a cracked heat exchanger to watch out for.
An Irregular Furnace Flame
The flame of a properly-functioning furnace will be blue and steady. If the flames turn from blue to yellow and begin jumping around or burning erratically, the issue could be dirt buildup or a cracked heat exchanger. A damaged heat exchanger interrupts the flow of air through the system, which causes the flame to change color and consistency.
Soot Build Up and Discoloration
When the air flowing through the furnace isn't burned steadily and properly, it can cause soot and black discolorations to buildup on the inner walls of the system. Often, the buildup of soot and discoloration will become noticeable when a crack forms on the metal. A cracked furnace can occur for several reasons, including the natural shrinking and expanding of metal when it cools and heats up.
However, if you notice metal cracks and soot buildup, the combination is often a sign of a cracked heat exchanger.
One of the most obvious signs of a cracked heat exchanger is a strong, unpleasant odor that can cause several physical symptoms, including severe headaches. The smell is intense and resembles chemical preservatives. If you notice this odor, turn off your furnace and contact an HVAC technician immediately.
What to Do If Your Heat Exchanger is Cracked
If you notice any of a combination of the above-mentioned signs of a cracked heat exchanger, contact a technician immediately. A cracked heat exchanger will not only impact the efficiency of your furnace, it can actually put you and your family at risk. The damage can allow dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning to seep into your home.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause a variety of symptoms, including confusion, trouble breathing, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and a headache. If you experience these symptoms, leave your home immediately and visit your local emergency room.
From a foul odor to changes in the color of your furnace's burner flame, there are several signs of a cracked heat exchanger every homeowner should recognize and watch out for. Contact a furnace repair professional for more information.