Which is Better? Replacing or Repairing Heat Exchangers?

Furnace Heat Exchangers Repair

It’s time to get your furnaces ready as the temperatures in Baltimore continue to dip!

Winter is around the corner and a working furnace is exactly what you’ll need during those cold and chilly nights.

Modern furnaces are complex pieces of machinery. It's quite common for professional furnace repair service providers near you to throw around technical terms.

So, before you think of replacing it, why not take a few minutes to understand every aspect of a heat exchanger?

One of the most important components in modern furnaces is the heat exchanger. This handy guide will help you decide if you need to replace it or fix it by hiring one of the local furnace repair companies

What is a furnace heat exchanger?

A furnace heat exchanger is the set of tubes or coils that are placed in your furnace for the purpose of heating air. The shape of the coils depends on the model of furnace you have, as well as the type of fuel used by the furnace for combustion.

What causes heat exchangers to fail?

A failing heat exchanger can become a nuisance for you in winter. And when they do fail, it is almost always a crack!

When the fuel is combusted inside the furnace, and hot gases pass through, the metal heats up, and it expands. When the metal cools down, it shrinks.

Upon closer observation, you’ll see the sheet metal ductwork doing this during a heating cycle. Over thousands of these heating cycles can cause the metal heat exchanger to crack.

How to determine  if the furnace heat exchanger is actually cracked?

Sadly many furnace repair companies are dubious. They will tell you that there's something wrong with your furnace so that they can sell you an expensive repair or a new furnace.

One very common way to do this is by showing you these cracks. If  the water leaks through the gaps in the heat exchanger, it means the furnace heat exchanger is cracked. Do not let them trick you. Ask them to show it to you.

Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

  • A build up of heavy soot
     
  • Dark black smoke
     
  • Abnormal flames in burners
     
  • Unstable and orange flames
Also Read: A Lazy Person's Guide to Maximize the Furnace Efficiency

How much will it cost to replace a furnace heat exchanger?

When a heat exchanger is cracked, every homeowner is stuck with a question whether to replace the heat exchanger or repair the furnace entirely.

Depending on the model of the furnace, replacing a cracked heat exchanger can cost you upwards of $2000. The most costly element of replacing a heat exchanger is the labor charges.

But before you shell out lots of money in replacing the heat exchanger, you should find out whether repairing or replacing your furnace is the best option for you.

Most furnace parts are under lifetime warranty or 20-year warranty for some models.

Do I repair or replace my furnace heat exchanger?

No matter what, if your heat exchanger is cracked it is not advisable to replace it. The obvious reason is that it is very costly to replace the heat exchanger.

If you have a furnace that is less than 10 years old with staged heating and a variable speed blower, all working efficiently, then it is better that you opt to repair it. Let professional furnace repair companies near you  inspect the furnace and give their professional expertise.

If your furnace has served you more than 10 years and the heat exchanger has cracked, then replacing the furnace entirely will make more sense.

Most furnace manufacturers also offer furnace replacement for a bad heat exchanger.

To sum up, there is a high chance that your furnace heat exchanger won’t fail. But if it does, a $600 to $1200 bill will give you a reason to consider replacing the entire furnace.

Still not convinced! Then find a decent furnace repair professional near you who will be able to give the best estimation for you to decide if you need to replace the heat exchanger or not.