What type of Denver, CO heating system do you have in your home to keep warm during our long and chilly winters? If your home is like the majority in our area, your answer is probably “a natural gas furnace”. This is a great choice, and the most common choice. They produce a large amount of heat and are less expensive to run than their electrical counterpart.
However, despite being built with modern technology and designed with your safety in mind, they do still have inherent risks. One of these risks in particular is that of a cracked heat exchanger, which can allow your furnace to release toxic gases into the home.
We don’t mean to alarm you, but this is a very important subject to discuss if you have a gas-powered system in your home. So let us first explain what a heat exchanger is and what it does. When the burners of your furnace come on, they generate hot combustion gas, which is collected inside clamshell-shaped metal chambers. These chambers are known as heat exchangers.
Hot combustion gas in the heat exchangers heat up the metal walls, and the blower fan of your furnace cycles on to send air around the exchanger, where it picks up the heat and carries it through the ducts and into your home. This way, the combustion gas heats your home’s air without that gas ever coming in contact with the air.
Once the heating process is complete, the combustion byproducts in the heat exchanger are vented out of the system through a flue, to release gas harmlessly into the air—that is, unless you have a cracked heat exchanger.
Cracks occur mostly with aging furnaces, particularly those that haven’t been well maintained. And these cracks are small—so miniscule that you may not even be able to see them when your heater is off. But what happens is that the heat causes these cracks to open wider during furnace operation, and allows the dangerous gas out.
If you have a cracked heat exchanger, you may hear a clicking sound coming from your heating system soon after the blower shuts off. This is always something that should be investigated by a professional HVAC technician, even if a heat exchanger problem ends up not being the culprit.