Is It Time for a New Furnace or Should I Replace My Furnace’s Heat Exchanger?

Have you just been told your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger? You might assume that, as with other furnace parts, you can just replace the heat exchanger and get the system back up and running again without too much trouble.

However, the heat exchanger is the heart of any furnace, making it one of the most expensive parts of the entire unit to repair or replace. If you have a cracked heat exchanger on your hands, use the information here to help you decide if it’s time for a new furnace.

What Is a Heat Exchanger?

The key to heating your home is found in the heat exchanger. When the thermostat detects that the temperature is falling, the furnace flame turns on and heats up the interior of the heat exchanger. This warms up the metal walls and tubing of the heat exchanger before the blower turns on so the air blowing across it picks up as much warmth as possible.

It’s important to understand that air doesn’t flow through the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is where combustion gases are contained and vented to the exterior after the air passing has absorbed a majority of the heat stored within. Some furnaces feature two heat exchangers to maximize efficiency. The exhaust from a furnace with a dual heat exchanger is cooler, meaning more of the energy your HVAC system consumes is converted into useful heat for your home.

Determine if the Heat Exchanger Is Cracked

It’s sad but true that some unscrupulous HVAC contractors will try to convince you that your furnace heat exchanger is cracked when it’s really in satisfactory condition. This tactic allows dishonest technicians to sell you an expensive repair or entirely new furnace.

Watch out for technicians who attempt the dubious diagnostic method of using water cameras or smoking agents to check for small gaps in the heat exchanger wall. According to the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, heat exchangers are not hermetically sealed, so a tiny bit of leakage is safe and even expected.

If your heat exchanger has really cracked from years of rust and corrosion, the hole will be large enough to see with the naked eye. Other signs of improper combustion caused by a crack in the heat exchanger include:

  • Soot buildup on internal furnace components
  • High carbon monoxide levels in the flue pipe that may leak out and set off your CO detector
  • Flickering yellow or orange burner flames, when they should be steady and blue

Why You Should Replace the Furnace if the Heat Exchanger Is Cracked

It usually takes 18 to 20 years for rust and corrosion to cause a hole to form in a furnace heat exchanger. If your furnace is old enough to have this problem, the heat exchanger probably isn’t worth replacing. Doing so would be comparable to buying a new engine for an old, rundown car.

In most cases, you are much better off putting your money toward a new, high-efficiency furnace replacement. Your investment will provide many immediate and long-term benefits, including:

  • Improved home comfort and humidity levels
  • Better air circulation for more even temperatures from room to room
  • Lower heating bills all winter long
  • Cleaner indoor air
  • Quieter operation

Contact Rick’s Heating & Cooling for Furnace Replacement in the Indianapolis Area

If you’re looking for a second opinion regarding the condition of your heat exchanger, or you’re ready to upgrade to a new, high-efficiency furnace, please contact Rick’s Heating & Cooling today. We are the furnace installation experts for homes and businesses in Southwest Ohio.

6 Spooky Things Lurking In Your HVAC System

As you prepare for another fun Halloween with your friends and family, you’re probably focused on finding a frightfully fun costume to wear and making festive treats with your kids. What you don’t often think about are the spooky things lurking in your HVAC system. Consider what could be hiding just out of sight behind your air registers. Then, use tips from Rick’s Heating & Cooling to banish them once and for all!


As the temperature drops outside, you might start noticing uninvited guests in your home. Of course, live spiders, crickets, and centipedes were probably not what you had in mind for Halloween decorations! Even if you don’t see them, these creepy-crawlies could end up in your ductwork, along with birds and rodents. Schedule ductwork cleaning if you suspect animals have made your air vents their new home.

Cobwebs & Dust

A large amount of dust travels through your ductwork every day. Cobwebs form and dust accumulates on the metal walls. Soon, it resembles a haunted house in there! One way to reduce dust buildup in your HVAC system is to replace the filter every one to three months or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Slimy Mold

What’s dark, slightly damp, and has ample food sources for mold to grow? Unfortunately, the answer is your ductwork. The metal ducts running behind your walls and ceilings are some of the creepiest places in your home. If the dust and other debris accumulated here become slightly moist, the ductwork quickly becomes a breeding ground for mold. This could be detrimental to your indoor air quality, so have your ducts inspected if it’s been awhile since you had them cleaned.

Microscopic Nasties

The germs that make you sneeze, sniff, cough, and blow your nose could be hiding in your HVAC system. Don’t let these bacteria and viruses ruin your plans for Halloween! Instead, have a HEPA air cleaner installed to remove microscopic nasties from the air you breathe. This way, candy will be the only thing that spreads from person to person on Halloween night.

Foul Odors

If you turn on your furnace on a dark and stormy night only to be greeted with musty air fit for a mummy’s tomb, it’s safe to assume something is wrong. Try replacing the filter, which may have mold growing on it. If you notice a rotten egg smell, oily aroma, rotting stench, or other foul odor, call a repair technician right away to diagnose the problem and come up with a solution.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

If your furnace rattles, squeals, or booms, you might think a poltergeist is living in your HVAC system! While the source of these bumps in the night isn’t quite this frightening, it’s still important to have the problem inspected before it gets any worse. After all, depending on what’s wrong, ignoring the racket could put your family in harm’s way. This is why you should always take odd furnace noises seriously.

Banish Spooky Things from Your HVAC System with Rick’s Heating & Cooling

If your HVAC system is becoming a little too spooky this Halloween, give Rick’s Heating & Cooling a call. We’ll perform an expert HVAC inspection using our 15-point service checklist. If any creepy-crawlies, cobwebs, mold, or other spooky things are lurking in your ductwork or HVAC equipment, we’ll find them! We also offer professional HVAC repairs if foul odors or strange noises are making your home feel like a haunted house.

Contact Rick’s Heating & Cooling today for all your HVAC service needs in Southwest Ohio. With our expertly trained and certified technicians, there are no tricks—only treats!

When to Replace vs. When to Repair Your Furnace

If your furnace breaks down this fall, you’re faced with a big decision—will you pay to repair the furnace, or put your money toward replacing the unit? You want to make a cost-effective choice that you can feel good about down the road. While you can’t predict the future, this guide can help you decide when to replace vs. when to repair your furnace.

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What to Do Before Turning on Furnace This Fall

As the seasons change, you begin depending on your furnace for home comfort. Before you turn on the heater for the first time this fall, follow these steps to ensure everything is working properly and safely.

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Do I Need an End-of-Season AC Tune-Up?

Now that summer is winding down and the air is starting to turn crisp, you’re probably looking forward to football, hot cocoa, and sweaters. After all, the changing season means less air conditioning and lower utility bills!

Even with the focus shifting toward your heating system, you can’t ignore air conditioner maintenance. You need an end-of-season AC tune-up if you skipped maintenance in the spring, and Rick’s Heating & Cooling is the place to go for the services you need.

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