Common Heat Exchanger Issues

Common Heat Exchanger Issues

Common Heat Exchanger IssuesYour gas furnace’s heat exchanger plays an important role when it comes to delivering reliable heat. This crucial component extracts heat from passing exhaust gases and transfers that heat to the indoor air passing over it. It’s not unusual for heat exchangers to develop the following issues at some point in their working lifespan.

Rust and Corrosion

Heat exchangers are particularly vulnerable to rust damage and corrosion, usually from exposure to excess moisture. In many cases, corrosion can form when condensate within the metal tubing combines with corrosive elements within the exhaust gases, leading to acidic condensate. Failure to drain this condensate, especially on high-efficiency condensing furnaces, could lead to rust and corrosion buildup.

Cracks and Leaks

Heat exchangers can also experience thermal fatigue, resulting in cracks forming along weakened sections of the exchanger, including weld points, joints and bends. Cracks usually form when the heat exchanger experiences excess heat or manifold pressures that cause the metal to expand beyond its limits, allowing stress cracks to form throughout the exchanger.


Stress cracks and pinhole leaks caused by corrosion can allow poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) to leak into your home’s living spaces, making this problem potentially life-threatening. If you begin to experience early signs of CO exposure, you should immediately stop using your furnace and have it inspected.


Fouling is another common problem that heat exchangers often experience. This usually happens when a buildup of scale, dust, algae or even soot from improper fuel burn prevents the exchanger from transferring heat effectively, resulting in poor heating performance. A thorough cleaning of the heat exchanger and furnace burners can help mitigate this issue and restore normal heating performance.


A typical heat exchanger usually lasts for the life of the furnace itself, but the above issues can easily cut its life short. To learn more about heat exchangers or to schedule service for your furnace, contact us at Powers Heating & Air in Peachtree City today.


Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 770-487-2040. 


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