Can My Heat Exchanger Rust?

Allow us to introduce you to one of the most important components of your gas furnace: the heat exchanger. (Actually, your furnace may have more than one.) It resembles a metal clamshell, and although unimpressive to look on, it performs a vital function in your furnace’s heating cycle. It holds the combustion gas from the jets in the burner, turning red hot from the heat of the gas. The heat exchanger transfers this heat to air blown over it. This hot air is what you will feel filling your home during a cold winter day. Your heat exchanger needs to stay in good condition, not only for your comfort, but also for your safety, as we’ll explain.

If you need heating repair in Monument, CO for your furnace, contact Airflow Pros. We have 24-hour emergency heating service to answer all your needs.

Yes, your heat exchanger can rust—and that’s not good

A heat exchanger is made of metal, and that means it can rust. Even though a furnace does not use water for its operation the way a boiler does, rust results as a natural part of the reaction of combustion by-products and the heat exchanger’s metal surface. Moisture can also enter the furnace cabinet and further add to the rusting.

Rust will happen over time, although as long as your furnace has proper venting, the process will be slow and not a cause for worry; by the time serious rust starts to develop, the furnace may be old enough that it will already have reached the point where it should be replaced.

However, if your heat exchanger rusts early, it can present a serious problem. Because the heat exchanger constantly expands and contracts during the heat cycle, there is a great deal of stress along its surface. Rust weakens metal, and a rusted heat exchanger can easily develop cracks. When that happens, combustion exhaust gas will begin to escape from the chamber. This will lower the temperature of the heat exchanger, but the more serious problem is that toxic, combustible carbon monoxide will enter the furnace cabinet or even out into your living space.

If you hear an odd clicking noise from your furnace approximately a minute and a half before the blower fan starts, it might indicate a heat exchanger with cracks. It’s always a smart idea to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home as a precaution as well.

The best way to know about rusting heat exchangers it to have regular maintenance done on your furnace. These annual check-ups from technicians will discover if excessive rust has started on any of the exchangers. Technicians can replace them and get your heater back to safe operating conditions. If the rust has developed too thoroughly and the heater is already old, the technician may suggest a replacement.

You can rely on Airflow Pros and our NATE-certified technicians for furnace maintenance and heating repair in Monument, CO that will keep you warm and safe all through the winter.

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