Skip navigation

24/7 Emergency Service Available

Set your Location:

Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc. Blog

What Exactly Is the Heat Exchanger?

If you were to ask HVAC technicians about the most important component in your gas furnace, many of them would likely say the heat exchanger. But to explain what this component is and why it’s so important, we’d need to dive into the internal processes of your furnace and see where all the pieces come together.

Don’t get us wrong, if you’ve been told by a licensed technician that your heat exchanger is faulty or is in need of repairs, don’t ignore this advice. A broken heat exchanger can lead to devastating consequences like leaking gas or carbon monoxide in your home. Also, if your heat exchanger is having problems, then it’s likely there are other issues inside your furnace as well that need to be addressed.

All of this can be fixed or at least addressed properly with professional furnace service in Waverly, IA, but as you’ll soon find out, the more you know about your furnace’s components, the more comfortable you’ll be with getting help.

Gas Burners and Creating Heat

Your gas furnace works in one specific way. When signaled by the thermostat, it switches on, igniting the gas and creating heat from the combustion process. As the flame burns, the air inside of the system gets very warm and thus can start the process of heating your home.

But we’ve got one tiny hiccup in this process so far–that warmed air is full of fumes and dangerous chemicals that are not good for humans or pets. If a furnace functioned like a fireplace and just sent that air into your home, you’d likely be poisoned or seriously injured. Smoke, carbon monoxide, and even water vapors would cause serious problems.

So, that’s where the heat exchanger component comes into play.

The Heat Exchanger

This little clamshell-shaped component has one important job. It allows clean air from your home to flow inside of it while the flames burn in the combustion chamber. The heat exchanger warms up but keeps a strong barrier between the clean air of your home and the dirty, contaminated air inside the furnace.

Then, as the blower fan pulls air through your ventilation system, the heat exchanger lets the clean (now heated) air go into your home where you can feel it, and the dirty air that’s been extracted of its heat is now sent through the port exhaust.

And that’s how the process is ideally supposed to work.

Why a Broken Heat Exchanger Is a BIG Deal

After years of working diligently, a heat exchanger can run into problems. Perhaps it’s become cracked or broken due to constant rattling and friction. Or maybe it’s got a small hole in it due to corrosion. Either way, these kinds of problems can be a serious concern because they might allow carbon monoxide or natural gas to seep into your home’s breathable air.

If you’re hearing noises coming from the system, or you’ve got a hunch that your heat exchanger is broken (through the foul odor of gas or signs of carbon monoxide in your home) then we’d urge you to call us for support and shut the system off.

At Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc., your comfort is our promise! To set up an appointment in the Cedar Falls area, give us a call at the number above, email or schedule an appointment online. 

Comments are closed.