Homeowners instinctively know that the HVAC system is expensive. The good news is that it can last for twenty years or more when well cared for.
Over the years, you start to notice little things. Noises. Cold rooms that once were warm. You know it’s coming – a time when you’ll have to call in a technician to work on your furnace. You dread it, especially knowing the bottom line could be very expensive.
What is the most expensive part to fix on a furnace? Are there ways to know if that’s what’s wrong?
A little knowledge ahead of time may help you avoid problems before they become more significant.
The most expensive part to fix on a furnace is …
A heat exchanger plays a critical role in the heating process. A heat exchanger transfers heat from one fluid (typically combustion gasses) to another fluid (usually air) without allowing the two to mix.
Inside the furnace, the heat exchanger extracts heat from the combustion gasses generated by the furnace’s burner. These gasses flow through the heat exchanger’s tubes, designed to maximize heat transfer efficiency. As the gasses flow through the lines, they give off heat to the metal walls of the heat exchanger.
As the metal walls heat, they transfer this heat to the air blown over them by the furnace’s blower. The blower draws air in from the home, forces it over the hot metal walls of the heat exchanger, and blows the heated air back into the rooms through the ductwork.
The heat exchanger acts as a barrier between the combustion gasses and the air circulating throughout the home. This separation is critical for several reasons.
First, it ensures that the air circulated throughout the home is not contaminated with harmful combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide.
Second, it allows the combustion gasses to be vented safely out of the home, which is essential for both safety and efficiency.
Minimize heat exchanger problems with these strategies
To ensure the heat exchanger in a furnace works well throughout its lifespan, you should:
Follow a regular maintenance plan – one of the essential things you can do to ensure the heat exchanger works well is to schedule regular maintenance every year. A professional technician can inspect the heat exchanger for any signs of damage or wear and tear and clean it to remove any buildup that may impede its efficiency.
Ensure proper air flow – replace your furnace’s air filter regularly, as a dirty filter can restrict airflow and cause the heat exchanger to overheat. Also, ensure that all vents and ductwork are free from obstructions.
Ensure proper combustion – it’s critical for the heat exchanger’s performance. If the burner malfunctions, it can cause incomplete combustion, leading to a buildup of harmful byproducts. The furnace’s burner should be clean and free from debris.
Ensure proper venting – this is essential for safety and efficiency. The furnace’s ventilation system should be free from obstructions, allowing the air to move freely throughout the home.
Make prompt repairs – if you notice any signs of a malfunctioning heat exchanger, such as cracks, corrosion, or unusual noises or smells, contact a professional technician immediately. Prompt repairs can prevent further damage to the heat exchanger and ensure safe and efficient operation.
Is the most expensive part of your furnace operating well?