A furnace is often a background player for your home, ensuring you're warm during the cold winter months. It often isn't noticed until a malfunction appears. 

One root cause might be that your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger. It can be a safety risk, so it’s important to know the evidence of a cracked heat exchanger and what you should do if you are worried that is the problem.  

What Is a Heat Exchanger in a Furnace? 

A heat exchanger helps move heat from the combustion chamber of your furnace to the air that moves inside the ventilation. It usually accomplishes this via coils or tubes that heat the air while serving as a barrier to keep byproducts produced in the combustion chamber, called flue gasses, from leaking out into your home.  

Is a Cracked Heat Exchanger Dangerous? 

Thanks to its important role, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a damaged heat exchanger can be very dangerous. A crack in the heat exchanger can allow dangerous gasses – such as carbon monoxide, which can be lethal – to flow throughout your home. 

For that reason, do NOT turn on your furnace if you think you're dealing with a cracked heat exchanger, as this could make your entire household sick. Call an HVAC professional right away if you believe your heating has a cracked heat exchanger that needs repair. 

Four Warning Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger: 

  • Furnace switches off: Cracks in the heat exchanger may cause your furnace to shut off. 
  • Unusual Smells: If the air leaving your furnace has a powerful chemical scent, it may be an indicator that gas is seeping through cracks in your heat exchanger. These byproducts, which can smell like formaldehyde, are a common warning sign. 
  • Carbon monoxide alarm is triggered or you recognize health problems: If a cracked heat exchanger is relieving carbon monoxide into your home, your carbon monoxide alarm could go off or household members may experience signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting or feeling drowsy. If the alarm goes off or you feel sick, get out of the home as soon as you can and then call for help. 
  • Soot: If you find black sooty accumulating near the exterior of your furnace, it’s an indication something could be seriously wrong.

What You Can Do if the Furnace Heat Exchanger is Cracked 

If you believe your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, contact a pro well versed in furnace installation Macon right away so they can inspect your system and, if necessary, perform a furnace heat exchanger replacement. Costs should differ depending on the situation, but estimates can roughly suggest $1,000 to $3,000. 

However, the good news is that heat exchangers are regularly protected by the warranty. You should review the warranty paperwork on your furnace, as while the warranty may not cover the entire cost of repairs, it still may significantly lower your bill.  

How to Avoid a Cracked Heat Exchanger in Your Home  

One of the most convenient ways to prevent a problem in your furnace overall is through regular furnace maintenance. Furnaces offer the most benefits when they work efficiently. Contacting a skilled professional to check your furnace for old parts, clogged filters and other likely problems can keep you from getting a big bill later on.  

It’s also a good idea to inspect your furnace filters every few months – it’s recommended some filters be swapped out every 90 days or sooner if they are dirty or grimy. While the filters aren't connected to the heat exchanger itself, the strain of drawing air through a clogged filter makes your entire furnace work longer to do its job. And the harder your furnace has to work, the more deterioration pieces like the heat exchanger will sustain.