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All About Your Cincinnati Furnace’s Heat Exchanger


The heat exchanger is an essential component of your Cincinnati home’s furnace. When working properly, it heats the air that will be moved into your home by the system’s blower to keep your family warm. If it malfunctions, you could face some very serious problems.

What is a heat exchanger?

The heat exchanger within your furnace is a looped set of coils. Combustion of heating fuel occurs inside the coils, heating them up. Air flows over the heat exchanger, heat transfer occurs when the air contacts the hot metal surface. The heated air then circulates through the duct system, into your living areas.

Heat exchanger cracks

While combustion is necessary for the furnace to create the heat you need, its byproducts are dangerous to your family. The combustion process is completely contained within a healthy heat exchanger.

If your heat exchanger cracks, harmful combustion byproducts can be released. These include:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Soot

These byproducts escape the heat exchanger through the crack, then mix with the air supply flowing over the heat exchanger and circulate into your home where your family is exposed.

Exposure to carbon monoxide from a cracked heat exchanger can be deadly if not addressed immediately. Not all cracks will cause carbon monoxide to be released, rather other pollutants can be expelled into the home. Heat exchanger cracks diminish indoor air quality, leading to health issues such as allergy symptoms, runny noses, and trouble breathing or asthma.

Poor furnace maintenance

Failure to maintain your furnace properly can cause damage to the heat exchanger. Dirty air filters and obstructions restricting airflow through the system can leave too much heat within the heat exchanger. This causes the heat exchanger to overheat, which expands its metal. Over time, repeated overheating will cause the heat exchanger’s metal to become brittle, and finally it will break due to metal fatigue.

Heat exchangers are a critical component of your heating system – if you suspect it’s malfunctioning, you need a NATE-certified furnace repair technician to address the issue right away. Call Nelson Comfort for quick and reliable heat exchanger repairs and furnace service.

About The Author


Dan Detmer

Dan Detmer is the owner of Nelson Comfort. Dan was born into the heating and cooling industry, coming from a family of well respected HVAC contractors in Dayton, Ohio. After working in the family business, Dan decided to work for a local HVAC wholesale business helping local contractors grow their business. When he felt his heart moving him back into the residential and light commercial business, Dan joined the Mortimer Heating & Cooling team in Cincinnati, where he had called home and become part of the community for several years. After a short period of time Dan purchased the company and created what is today, Nelson Comfort. Today he operates a company based on integrity, honesty, and stellar customer service. If you have any questions feel free to tweet (at sign) NelsonComfort and we will get right back with you!

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