A heat exchanger is a unit used to transmit heat from one fluid to another fluid. The system can also be used to transfer heat between many fluids. Heat exchangers are found in both heating and cooling systems. The fluids can be divided by a solid wall to avoid mixing or directly getting into contact. Heat exchangers are usually used in refrigeration, space heating, sewage treatment, and natural gas processing.

The typical example of a heat exchanger is an internal combustion engine whereby a flowing fluid referred to as engine coolant circulates through radiator coils and air circulates past the coils, cooling the coolant and heating the entering air. Another example is the heat sink, a submissive heat exchanger that transmits the generated heat using a mechanical or electronic device to a fluid medium, in most cases a liquid or air coolant.

How Does a Furnace Heat Exchanger Function?

Typically, a furnace heat exchanger functions by transferring or exchanging the heat generated in the combustion chamber to the outer part of the system. After that, the generated heat is gusted through the ductwork throughout the home structure. The unit usually works in three main steps. Nowadays, the most used system is the gas-driven forced-air HVAC unit.

So, how does the system work? The first step starts with the furnace calling for heat, which starts the process of combustion. The gases penetrate the heat exchanger chamber, heating the metallic barriers. The next step entails the return air ducts pulling air from within the residence to blow beside the exterior of the heat exchanger before being transmitted again through the vents in various rooms of the house. Drawing air and combustion gases are kept separately through this procedure.

The gases generated during combustion are then blown out from the system and through an outlet outside of the residence. However, high-efficiency furnaces function somehow differently. In these units, the gases pass through another heat exchanger that pulls extra air for use in the residence.

The performance of a heat pipe heat exchanger in terms of heat transmission can be affected by various factors, including the rate of fluid-filled, the heat pipe’s opening temperature, the working temperature of the tube, the liquid refrigerant physical nature, tube spacing, wind speed, cold and hot fluid flow, and tube length.

The performance of a heat exchanger can be easily determined by the change of the fluid under consideration. Notably, the heat transfer rate is the product of the temperature change and the heat capacity rate.

Signs That May Indicate Cracks in your Furnace Heat Exchanger

A cracked heat exchanger is quite serious, particularly when it comes to a home’s safety. If this situation occurs in this system, the burning gases, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxide can leak into your residence. This may cause various health concerns or even death in extreme situations. The following are common signs that your heat exchanger may have cracks.

Unusual Smells

Typically, a malfunctioned system develops a strong and unpleasant smell that is like formaldehyde.

Soot Build-up

This is the white soot that develops and surrounds the burners of a furnace. The presence of this substance may be a sign of a malfunctioned heat exchanger.

Corrosion and Cracks

Sometimes your system can develop corrosion or even cracks over time. Contact a professional immediately if you detect cracks or corrosion in other components of a furnace, including the inducer motor or draft diverter.

Change in the Appearance of the Flame

Most furnaces usually produce visible flames heating the air. In these flames, yellow or orange may indicate some abnormality since blue is the color considered normal.

Audible Sounds

If your heat exchanger has cracks, it may produce rattling sounds when the thermostat switches on the heat. Since the system is constructed using metal, the heating causes the cracks to contract or expand, causing popping or banging.

Presence of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless flammable gas which is dangerous. A malfunctioned heat exchanger can leak this gas into your residence. Fortunately, installing a carbon monoxide detector can alert you in case the gas leaks.

Located in Northridge, CA, Kahn Air Conditioning offers heating and cooling services in southern California. Our heating services include heating repair, heating installation, heating maintenance, while our cooling services include AC repair, AC installation, and AC maintenance. We also offer other products and services, including generators, energy, indoor air quality, and smart home. Are you having issues with your heat exchanger? Contact us today for professional services and assistance.

company icon