What Every Greenville Area Homeowner Should Know About The Threat Of Carbon Monoxide!
Although your furnace is not the only potential risk for carbon monoxide(CO), it will be the focus of this article. There are steps to determine the risks and potential for carbon monoxide. Questions like:
- Is there any carbon in the burner area, flue or vent?
- How are the flames burning?
- Are there any visible signs of a problem, such as flames burning erratically, no flames visible on part of the burner, weak flames, or white tips on the flames?
Regardless of the visual inspection, a test must be performed to verify that there is no CO in the combustion gases.
What Is A Heat Exchanger?
One of the most important areas to understand therefore check it thoroughly is what is known as the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is the metal passage separating combustion products and gasses from the indoor air being heated. This metal is exposed to the hot flame within the furnace and is constantly expanding and contracting as the furnace heats up and cools down. The stress of this constant expansion and contraction will eventually wear the metal out. This is known as “metal fatigue”. Over time, this will cause the metal in the heat exchanger to split or crack-no different than if you were to bend a metal coat hanger back and forth until it breaks. Oversized furnaces (where the gas is continually turning on and off) are subject to more stress and usually wear out sooner due to their operating conditions. These types of furnaces should be inspected yearly.
What Causes A Heat Exchanger To Fail?
Start with keeping your furnace’s blower motor and blades clean; is critical. Dirt build-up on the blades of your furnace's blower can also contribute to early aging of your furnace's heat exchanger. Blower cleaning is critical since a buildup of dirt on the blower blades will reduce the furnace's airflow and cause it to use more electricity. The lower airflow will cause the furnace to run hotter, increasing the rate of expansion and contraction of the heat exchanger's metal. The end result is excessive metal fatigue and eventual premature failure. This is another reason annual furnace maintenance is so critical --- especially if more than ten years old.
If You Haven't Had A Furnace Tune Up Recently, Now May Be A Great Time.