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6 Warning Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

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Heat exchangers are critical components of furnaces. However, heat exchangers can run a serious risk of cracking when not maintained. This article will review the signs of cracked heat exchangers and how to catch issues before they worsen.

How Do Heat Exchangers Work?

The heat exchanger does just as the name implies. It exchanges heat from the energy source to your home’s air. More specifically, it usually does this by passing unheated air around heated tubes. The air absorbs the heat and brings it to your home, creating a warm and cozy environment. 

Signs of A Cracked Heat Exchanger:

If you notice any of these signs, please get in touch with us immediately. A cracked heat exchanger can be very dangerous. 

1. Carbon Monoxide

If your CO detector goes off and you have a furnace, you should immediately turn off your heating and seek fresh air. According to the CDC, “The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.” Afterwards, you should get a technician to check and fix your furnace as soon as possible.

Unmaintained gas water heaters and old gas stoves can also produce carbon monoxide since any appliance that uses gas can produce carbon monoxide

2. Strong Odors

You should immediately contact us if you smell formaldehyde, rotten eggs, or gas. These strong odors could indicate a gas leak or incomplete combustion.

3. Noticeable Cracks or Corrosion

When looking at your heat exchanger, you should immediately contact a technician if you see any visible cracks, heavy rust, or signs of damage.

4. Noise When You Turn on the Heat

Unusual noises, such as rattling or banging, from your furnace when you turn on your heater could mean something is wrong with your heat exchanger.

5. Change of Flames’ Appearance

If the flames in your furnace are flickering yellow or orange instead of a steady blue, it indicates something is wrong with the heat exchanger.

A stock photo of flames in a furnace from canva for our cracked heat exchanger blog post.

6. Soot Build Up 

When a heat exchanger is cracked, the combustion process can be disrupted, leading to an unusual amount of soot. 


With these preventative measures, you can catch a cracked exchanger before it becomes problematic. 

1. Make Sure You Have Your Heater Maintained

Having your heating system checked annually is the best way to catch any issues before they become major problems. Air Experts recommends that your HVAC be maintained twice a year, preferably once in the fall or winter for your heating system and once during the spring and summer for your AC system. 

We offer a Comfort Club Maintenance Plan with a heating maintenance check and a cooling maintenance check. It also includes a 15% discount on repairs or indoor air quality products, priority scheduling, and more. 

2. Install and Regularly Check CO Detectors 

Install CO detectors near your bedrooms. These devices alert you to carbon monoxide, providing an added layer of safety since carbon monoxide is odorless.

Cracked heat exchangers are nothing to sniff at. They are dangerous, especially during the fall and winter months when we spend most of our time indoors and our heating systems are on. So, if you notice any of these signs as you start your heating systems, contact us. And if you haven’t already, schedule your annual heating maintenance so you can sleep safely, knowing your heating system is ready for anything winter sends its way.

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Air Experts is always here for your Heating, Cooling, Indoor Air Quality, Plumbing, and Water Treatment needs. Our award-winning customer service team is available 24/7, or you can easily book an appointment. 

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