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What Is a Heat Exchanger, and Why Does It Fail?

heat exchanger

What Is a Heat Exchanger, and Why Does It Fail?

heat exchanger

In furnaces, different components work together to create the heat required to warm buildings. If one part fails to perform well, the whole system will not function as it should. One component that is arguably the most critical piece is the heat exchanger. As air blows across the hot surface of the exchanger, it heats up and is sent throughout the ductwork. When working correctly, it keeps the interior air separate from the other gases used in the combustion process. Heat exchangers do fail on occasion. That is when you need to enlist the help of an experienced and reliable HVAC company for repair or replacement.

Reasons Why Heat Exchangers Fail

Nothing lasts forever, including your commercial furnace’s heat exchanger. A proactive preventative maintenance program can limit repair expenses and untimely replacement costs. 

The heat exchanger gets extremely hot, causing the metal of the heat exchanger to expand when heated and contract when cooled. Over time, even a well-maintained heating system will develop stress cracks in the heat exchanger.

 Pre-mature heat exchanger failure could be caused by various reasons, including: 

  1. Lack of airflow: If air doesn’t flow properly, it will make the exchanger overheat and can damage it. Air flow may be restricted from dirty, clogged air filters. 
  2. Oversized furnace: A unit that is too big for the space it needs to heat will repeatedly cycle on and off, causing the metal in the heat exchanger to heat up (expand) and cool down(contract), which adds stress to the equipment.
  3. Lack of routine maintenance: Just like a car needs regular maintenance to run well, so do furnaces and boilers. Having your preferred HVAC company come in annually for a service appointment can minimize costly repairs later.

Quality Workmanship from an Experienced HVAC Company 

If you experience any of the following, contact a qualified heating and air conditioning company like TRI-AIR Systems to follow up with an inspection:

  • Strange smell: An unpleasant odor means something is wrong.
  • Soot build-up: White soot build-up in or around the burners is not a good sign.
  • Corrosion and cracks: Call immediately for help if you see corrosion or cracks.
  • Orange or yellow flame: The furnace’s flame should be blue, not orange or yellow.
  • Sounds: A cracked heat exchanger will make a rattling noise.
  • Carbon monoxide: A carbon monoxide detector going off is never a good sign.

At TRI-AIR Systems, we have an outstanding team of knowledgeable technicians who can handle all your routine, corrective, and emergency HVAC requirements, including faulty heat exchangers. We have the experience and equipment to tackle your furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, rooftop chillers, and more. Look to us for all of your commercial and industrial HVAC needs.

Call us at 905-470-2424 or contact us online for your energy-efficient commercial and industrial heating system installation, service, or repair.