Tag Archives: heat exchanger

3 Common Heat Exchanger Problems

Close up tube or coil of heat exchangerWhen it comes to the safe operation of your furnace, there’s one component that plays a vital role: the heat exchanger. This coil of metal tubing is what keeps combustion fumes contained so they go out the exhaust vent pipe. If problems develop with this critically-important device, those noxious fumes that contain carbon monoxide and other harmful gases can escape and enter the warm air that’s being distributed through the ductwork in your home.

Here are three problems that commonly occur with heat exchangers and how to address them:

1. Rust and Corrosion

Heat exchangers can corrode and rust out due to excess condensation inside the furnace. Mostly, this is a problem with high-efficiency condensing furnaces. When the system is working properly, the condensate is expelled through a built-in drainage system. If the drain line gets partially blocked, the furnace still operates, but condensation can’t flow out freely and will gradually rust out the heat exchangers, allowing fumes to escape through holes in the metal. Condensation can also cause similar problems in a lower-efficiency furnace if the exhaust flue pipe is too small.

2. Age-Related Deterioration

Furnace heat exchangers are designed durably to withstand repeated cycles of heating up and cooling down over a long service life. With advancing age, the expansion and contraction that occurs will cause metal fatigue and small cracks will form in the material. When this happens, the furnace will need replacement.

3. Premature Metal Failure

Under certain conditions metal fatigue can happen prematurely, which means a costly early replacement of the furnace. The underlying cause may be insufficient system airflow or burner irregularities, but both result in overheating of the metal.

Preventing Problems With The Heat Exchanger

For safety and peace of mind, it’s wise to stay ahead of developing heat exchanger-related problems by having a trained HVAC technician inspect your furnace annually. An experienced technician will clean the components, check for adequate airflow, make any necessary burner adjustments and inspect the heat exchanger for wear and damage.

To have your furnace heat exchanger inspected, contact the Portland home comfort pros at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Everything You Need to Know About Heat Exchangers

Everything You Need to Know About Heat ExchangersHeat exchangers are found in all types of equipment, from refrigerators and air conditioners, to smoke stacks to diesel engines. But when we talk about the heat exchanger in your furnace, we mean a specific type of technology. Following is a brief explanation of what the heat exchanger in your furnace does.

Your Furnace’s Heat Exchanger

All heat exchangers perform the same function — that of moving heat from one fluid (a liquid or a gas) to another, but depending on the technology, they work in different ways.

The furnace heat exchanger uses fuel — propane, natural gas or oil — to create heat. The blower motor or fan then projects air over the heat exchanger and into your home’s ductwork, which distributes it throughout the home. Pretty simple, right?

To explain a little more in depth, the burners ignite and produce combustion gases. The gases are sent into the exchanger, where heat from the gases is transferred onto the walls of the heat exchanger.

As the gases cool, the draft inducer blower directs them into venting pipes and they are exhausted from the home. This takes place at the same time the hot air from the combustion gases is picking up heat from the heat exchanger walls, prior to being distributed through the ductwork.

What Can Go Wrong With the Heat Exchanger

Over time, a heat exchanger can develop cracks from the repeated heating and cooling of the metal. When this occurs, carbon monoxide may start leaking out. That said, modern heat exchangers are built with many improved safety features over old models, so malfunctions that can endanger your household are rare.

Annual maintenance on a furnace should include inspection of the heat exchanger for cracks. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home to ensure that accumulations from any malfunctioning combustion appliances do not mount to dangerous levels.

If you would like to know more about heat exchangers in particular or any of your other HVAC system parts, we can answer your questions. Contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We have served Portland and the surrounding area since 1976.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “1264187/Pixabay”

Your Heat Exchanger Could Be Cracked — 4 Clues for You to Examine

Your Heat Exchanger Could Be Cracked -- 4 Clues for You to ExamineOperating a boiler or furnace with a cracked heat exchanger can be a serious risk. While regular HVAC maintenance from a qualified contractor will catch cracks and other problems with your heating and cooling every 6 months or year, problems can still develop between that time. That’s why it’s important for you to be able to spot signs of cracking throughout the year. We’ve listed 4 main signs that your heat exchanger might be cracked:

  1. Sediment or soot buildup. Foreign material in your boiler or furnace can prevent the proper combustion of fuel, causing major damage to the unit or the production of carbon monoxide. This kind of buildup can be the result of a significant crack, so hiring a HVAC professional to fix the problem if you spot soot in your unit is crucial.
  2. Abnormal carbon monoxide levels. First, ensure that your home has properly placed carbon monoxide detectors in all necessary areas. If the detector ever goes off, your local fire department needs to be called right away. One of the most common culprits of excess carbon monoxide is a crack in the heat exchanger.
  3. A clean and blue flame. The flame on a boiler or furnace should burn consistently. A dancing or intermittent flame can be a serious sign of cracking in the heat exchanger. A yellow or orange color to the flame can mean the fuel is dirty which is also the sign of cracking.
  4. Rusty surfaces and components. Metal exposed to oxygen and water can lead to rusting and cracking. This can happen to the outside of your variable-speed furnace and boiler as well as the internal components. If you notice rusting, you’ll need a reliable HVAC contractor to tell if your unit can be fixed or needs replacing.

For more information about your heating system or other components of your HVAC system, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling today. We’ve been helping clients in and around the Portland area with their HVAC needs since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Goldenarts/Shutterstock”

What an HVAC System Check Should Include

What an HVAC System Check Should IncludeIt’s likely that your heating and cooling system is one of the most expensive and vital parts of your home. An HVAC system check will keep it running as efficiently and durably as possible. When HVAC technicians go through your equipment, they should cover these steps: Continue reading

Your Autumn Furnace Tune-up: What to Expect When the Technician Arrives

Your Autumn Furnace Tune-up: What to Expect When the Technician ArrivesAutumn is in the air in Portland, and now’s the time to start crossing off the tasks on your fall home maintenance checklist. At the top of your list should be your autumn furnace tune-up. Annual preventive maintenance on your furnace will benefit you in these key ways: Continue reading

The Tech Has Just Found a Crack in Your Heat Exchanger — Now What?

The Tech Has Just Found a Crack in Your Heat Exchanger -- Now What?If a technician finds a crack in your heat exchanger, your furnace will be red-tagged and taken out of service. This is done to prevent the possibility of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide from building up in your home, which is prone to happen if you run a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger. If you’ve got a red-tagged furnace, you’re going to be facing a difficult decision: Should you pay to have the crack in your heat exchanger repaired, or should you replace the furnace altogether? Continue reading

These Components Power Your Forced-Air Furnace

Your forced-air furnace is a complex system of parts that work together to keep you warm and comfortable throughout the long winter months. Understanding what these parts are and how they function as part of the system is something that every homeowner should know about so they can recognize potential problems when they occur. Continue reading

A Fall Furnace Tuneup: Learn Why It’s Necessary

A Fall Furnace Tuneup: Learn Why It's NecessaryYour furnace will experience a certain amount of wear over the many seasons of its life. And over time, the effects of this wear and tear can accumulate, causing your furnace to lose efficiency, work improperly or break down entirely. Regular preventive maintenance, including a fall furnace tune-up, can keep these troubles at bay, while also ensuring that your heating system works optimally all winter long. Continue reading

Power Company Incentives Make Investing In High-Efficiency Heat Pumps Even More Attractive

Portland-area homeowners can cash in on utility rebates when they upgrade to high-efficiency heat pumps. If you are a customer of Pacific Power, Portland General Electric (PGE), NW Natural or Cascade Natural Gas, you are eligible for incentives through Energy Trust of Oregon when upgrading from an existing heat pump, non-electric energy heating or an electric furnace.

Continue reading

The Ins and Outs of Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are a great way to improve energy efficiency in your home. Traditional units heat and store hot water regardless of how much you use. This creates two problems: either you don’t have enough hot water, or you have too much and energy is wasted reheating the water. A tankless water heater solves both of those problems by providing hot water only when you need it.

Continue reading