Even though we won’t rely on gas furnaces in Southern California as much as other parts of the country, we still have to exercise the same caution about how they work. Gas furnaces are not automatically hazardous appliances—they’re designed with safety uppermost in mind—but any appliance that uses natural gas can present safety issues from toxic gas leaks or explosions.
The most common gas furnace problem that can turn unsafe is cracks in the heat exchanger.
The job of the heat exchanger
If you look at the interior of a furnace, you’ll see metal chambers located above the burners. These metal chambers are the heat exchanger. It’s the part of the furnace that heats up in order to warm the air sent from the blower. The hot combustion gas from the burners enters the heat exchanger, causing the metal walls to grown hot. As the air passes around the exchanger, it receives the heat from the exchanger walls. After finishing the heating cycle, the exhaust gas exits the exchanger through a flue and moves safely out of the house.
The trouble when the heat exchanger cracks
A heat exchanger can crack due to corrosion (a result of a reaction between metal and the combustion gasses over time). When this happens, the cracks expand as the exchanger heats up, which is often enough to allow the exhaust gasses, such as carbon monoxide (CO) to escape. It will enter the air from the blower and get sent into the house. These gases are harmful, which is why you need to have CO detectors in your home.
If your CO detectors go off, or your hear a distinct clicking sound from the furnace after the blower shuts off, you may have a cracked heat exchanger. Call on professionals to replace the cracked exchanger—or perhaps replace the entire furnace.
Stay safe this season with the help of Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We offer furnace repairs and other heating services in Banning, CA.