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Cracked Heat Exchanger: What It Is and How to Deal with It

AirPoint technician repairing cracked heat exchanger in Toronto home 2023

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As a homeowner, you know that your HVAC system plays a vital role in keeping your home comfortable all year round. However, you may not be familiar with all the components that make up your system. One of the most critical parts of your HVAC system is the heat exchanger, which plays a crucial role in the heating process.

In this article, we will be discussing the importance of the heat exchanger, what a cracked heat exchanger is, and how to deal with it. Our goal is to provide you with comprehensive information that will help you understand how to keep your HVAC system in good working order.

What is a Heat Exchanger?

The heat exchanger is a crucial component of your HVAC system, and it is responsible for the exchange of heat between the air in your home and the heat produced by your furnace. It is designed to transfer heat from the combustion gases to the air, ensuring that your home is heated effectively and efficiently.

A heat exchanger is typically made of metal and is located inside your furnace. It is responsible for containing the combustion gases produced by your furnace, ensuring that they are vented safely and efficiently out of your home.

When the furnace heats up, the heat exchanger warms up too, and as the air is blown over the heat exchanger, it becomes heated. This warm air is then distributed throughout your home via the ductwork.

What is a Cracked Heat Exchanger?

A cracked or failing heat exchanger occurs when the metal of the heat exchanger develops small cracks or fractures. These cracks can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, corrosion, or excessive heat.

When a heat exchanger is cracked, it can allow combustion gases to leak into your home’s air supply. These gases, such as carbon monoxide, can be harmful to your health and even life-threatening in high concentrations.

How to Detect a Cracked Heat Exchanger

Detecting a cracked heat exchanger can be challenging, as it is not always visible to the naked eye. However, there are some signs you can look out for that may indicate a problem. These signs include:

  • A yellow or flickering flame in your furnace
  • The presence of soot around your furnace
  • The smell of gas or a burning odor
  • An increase in your energy bills without an apparent reason
  • The presence of carbon monoxide detectors going off

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to have your HVAC system inspected immediately by a qualified technician. They will be able to determine if your heat exchanger is cracked and what steps need to be taken to resolve the issue.

How to Deal with a Cracked Heat Exchanger

If your heat exchanger is cracked, it’s important to deal with the issue as soon as possible to ensure the safety of your family. In most cases, a cracked heat exchanger will need to be replaced, which can be a costly repair.

The first step is to have a qualified technician inspect your HVAC system and determine the extent of the damage. They will be able to tell you if the heat exchanger can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced.

If your heat exchanger needs to be replaced, it’s essential to choose a qualified technician who is experienced in this type of repair. They will be able to remove the old heat exchanger and install a new one safely and efficiently.

Preventing Cracked Heat Exchangers

Preventing a cracked heat exchanger from occurring in the first place is always the best course of action. Here are some steps you can take to keep your heat exchanger in good working order:

By taking these preventative measures, you can help keep your HVAC system in good working order and avoid the need for costly repairs.


When it comes to choosing a reliable HVAC service provider in Toronto, AirPoint stands out as the clear choice. With a Carrier factory authorized dealership and NATE certification, we have the highest title of dealership with Carrier, ensuring that we are equipped to handle any HVAC issues you may have. We are proud to have been awarded HomeStars Best of the Best 2023, as well as maintaining a 5 stars on Google and HomeStars. Our commitment to providing excellent service and customer satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do, and we look forward to serving you with all of your HVAC needs. Contact AirPoint today for all of your HVAC needs.

if you’re unsure if your heat exchanger is cracked, watch this video by HVAC Tech Tips to see how a cracked exchanger sounds and looks

How a cracked heat exchanger looks and sounds

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Cracked Heat Exchangers

A clogged heat exchanger can cause your HVAC system to work less efficiently, resulting in higher energy bills and less effective heating or cooling. Signs of a clogged heat exchanger can include reduced airflow, unusual noises from your HVAC system, or reduced heating or cooling output.

It is recommended that heat exchangers are serviced at least once a year by a qualified HVAC technician. This can help ensure that any potential issues with the heat exchanger are detected early and resolved before they become more serious.

Replacing a heat exchanger can be a complex and involved process, and should only be attempted by a qualified HVAC technician. It typically involves dismantling the furnace, removing the old heat exchanger, and installing the new one. The process can vary depending on the make and model of your furnace.

In most cases, a leaking heat exchanger will need to be replaced, as the damage is usually irreversible. It's important to have a qualified HVAC technician inspect your system to determine the extent of the damage and what steps need to be taken to resolve the issue.

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