There’s just something comforting about the warmth of a furnace on a dreary day in winter. Even in balmy Lakeland, FL the winter months can get chilly enough to warrant dialing up the thermostat. To ensure you’ve always got heat when you need it, proper care is essential. You don’t need to be a professional HVAC technician, but it’s helpful to know the basics of how your system works. One component that’s especially important to understand is the heat exchanger.

How Heat Exchangers Work

Furnaces generate heat by burning fuel in a sealed chamber. This combustion process creates a lot of heat energy, but it also creates noxious fumes. Simply put, it’s the heat exchanger’s job to separate the heat from the harmful fumes. To do this, it uses a chamber with thin metal walls located within the path of your furnace’s return airflow. Hot air enters the chamber and rapidly heats the walls. This heat then transfers to the cold air blowing across the chamber, which subsequently heats your home.

Signs of a Failing Heat Exchanger

This process works very well, but the continuous cycle of heating and cooling takes a toll. Without regular heater maintenance visits, the thin metal of the exchanger’s walls can easily crack and fail. The first sign of a problem is often a strong and distinct odor of formaldehyde. Your burner flames may change appearance, becoming unsteady or turning yellow. You may also begin experiencing headaches, nausea and other physical symptoms.

Why Proper Care Is Critical

Considering its primary function is to keep combustion fumes out of your airflow, a heat exchanger failure is clearly dangerous. The physical symptoms mentioned above are common, but a complete failure can be even more hazardous. Along with other gases and byproducts, a cracked exchanger may allow carbon monoxide to enter your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious and potentially deadly condition that requires immediate attention. The best way to avoid these hazards is to schedule regular service visits and use proven, high-quality Trane heating products.

Your heat exchanger plays a vital role in keeping you both comfortable and safe. With so much at stake, you simply can’t afford to risk a crack or failure. To keep your home protected, check out Wards Air Conditioning’s expert heating services or call 863-225-7202.

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