Despite the generally warm environment of Georgia, temperatures, especially during winter nights, can get relatively low. When chilly air surrounds your home and drops your indoor temperature, your furnace works to keep you cozy. Without it, you could be left shivering and seeking warmth.
Furnaces consist of many working parts, and you may never have heard of them. Each one plays a crucial role in allowing the furnace to operate properly and provide much-needed heat. One of the main components includes the heat exchanger.
You might wonder, “what is a heat exchanger in a furnace?” Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what a heat exchanger is and how it functions within your furnace. For more information on high-quality heating or to schedule professional furnace repair in Richmond Hill, GA, call Georgia Air Cooling & Heating today.
What Is a Heat Exchanger?
What is a heat exchanger in a furnace? The heat exchanger refers to the largest working part of a furnace. It lies between the combustion chamber and blower, is typically a strong metal plate, and can have such components as curved metal tubes, shells, fins, and wheels.
You can find different types of heat exchangers, and while their main function involves the safe transfer of heat, they can have several practical applications.
How Does a Heat Exchanger Work?
A heat exchanger transfers heat across various locations. It works by mixing hot and cold air, allowing your furnace to produce the ideal air temperature to heat your home.
As your furnace burns fuel, such as propane or natural gas, the resulting combustion exhaust or flue gas it creates as a by-product travels throughout the heat exchanger. The hot flue gas heats the metal heat exchanger as it passes through. In turn, the hot heat exchanger warms the surrounding air within the furnace.
Whether you have a propane, oil, electric, or gas furnace, it may utilize both primary and secondary heat exchangers. The two heat exchangers have similar yet separate functions that allow your furnace to operate at a higher capacity. Having two heat exchangers boosts your furnace’s energy efficiency.
Primary Heat Exchanger
In furnaces with two heat exchangers, the primary component works as we explained above. The primary heat exchanger contains the hottest flue gas and sits close to the burners. Furnaces with a single heat exchanger typically operate at 70-80% efficiency, so we always recommend models with dual heat exchangers.
Secondary Heat Exchanger
Adding a second heat exchanger boosts a furnace’s energy efficiency to 90% or above. Flue gas enters the secondary heat exchanger after exiting the primary one. Though at a lower temperature than while in the primary heat exchanger, the flue gas can still release heat.
The heat released by the flue gas saturates the air, forcing water vapor to turn into liquid. This process of condensation releases latent heat into the secondary heat exchanger and allows the furnace to operate at a higher efficiency rating.
How a Heat Exchanger Benefits Your Residential or Commercial Property
A heat exchanger plays a significant role in your comfort. Its mixing of hot and cold air produces warm air that helps your residential or commercial property reach your desired temperature. Without a properly functioning heat exchanger, you’ll likely feel too hot or cold when indoors.
Your heat exchanger is also vital to the safety of your residential or commercial property. Flue gas contains a concentration of carbon monoxide and other substances as a result of the combustion process. When in the air, these substances present potential health hazards to humans.
The heat exchanger ensures that the air you breathe does not contain flue gas. If you have an issue with your heat exchanger, such as a crack or malfunction, your furnace could leak dangerous flue gas into the air of your residential or commercial property. To be safe, you should always have a carbon monoxide detector present and keep an eye out for potential heat exchanger problems.
Spotting Issues With Your Heat Exchanger
Because heat exchanger issues can lead to serious illnesses, make sure you call for maintenance or repairs immediately if you notice any of the following signs:
- Carbon monoxide detector going off: While there can be other causes for carbon monoxide leaks, a faulty heat exchanger often becomes a common culprit. This serves as perhaps the most noticeable sign of a heat exchanger issue that requires immediate attention.
- Strange odor: If you smell a strange odor in your residential or commercial property, especially one that resembles formaldehyde, you may have a problem with your heat exchanger. A faulty heat exchanger may leak unwanted gasses into your air.
- Soot buildup: Uneven combustion and dirt within your heat exchanger often lead to soot buildup. Check for soot buildup around the burners of your furnace and in your air filters.
- Cracks and corrosion: In your heat exchanger and other parts of your furnace, such as the inducer motor, heat, metal fatigue, and other problems can cause cracks and corrosion. If you notice any cracks or corrosion, you may have a significant heat exchanger issue.
- Odd noises: A crack in your heat exchanger can cause odd rattling and popping noises as it heats, expands, and contracts. Cracks often cause gas leaks, so call for assistance if you hear these sounds.
- Non-blue flame color: Your furnace’s burner should always appear blue. If you notice a different flame color, it could point to several different heat exchanger issues.
These and other issues with your heat exchanger can be challenging to spot, as most property owners have little to no experience with furnace maintenance. To ensure your furnace functions properly and your residential or commercial property’s air stays safe to breathe, schedule regular maintenance and inspection visits by the expert technicians at Georgia Air Cooling & Heating. Whether you suspect a problem or not, we’ll thoroughly check your heat exchanger and furnace to ensure smooth operation.
Heat Exchanger Maintenance and Inspections
Regular maintenance and inspections by professional technicians can help prevent significant heat exchanger issues that jeopardize your safety and lead to costly repairs. At Georgia Air Cooling & Heating, our technicians use their experience and knowledge to check your heat exchanger for any problems and provide necessary tune-ups. During a routine maintenance visit, we’ll do the following:
- Check and repair cracks to prevent gas leaks
- Clean vents to allow proper airflow, maintain high energy efficiency, and prevent overheating
- Check and replace air filters
- Look for significant wear and tear or other signs that you need a new heat exchanger
As a property owner, you can help maintain your heat exchanger by checking and changing your air filters regularly. Most air filters last three to six months before requiring replacements. However, you should change them more frequently during the winter months to ensure proper airflow, as you’ll likely use your furnace more when temperatures drop.
For the best and safest results, schedule furnace or heat exchanger maintenance and inspections annually.
Why Choose Georgia Air Cooling & Heating?
At Georgia Air Cooling & Heating, we don’t just want to answer the question, “what is a heat exchanger in a furnace?” We also strive to resolve the question, “how can we ensure your heat exchanger consistently performs to keep your home or business safe and comfortable?” Our solution shows we continually work to understand your property, using our industry knowledge, tools, and experience to provide efficient and effective services.
We treat every customer in Richmond Hill, GA, and our surrounding service areas as family. Our team members build a relationship with you, and you know you can count on us for your cooling and heating needs. We are confident and passionate about providing an unbeatable customer experience, so we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
However, our guarantees don’t stop there. When you choose Georgia Air Cooling & Heating, you get our “Upfront Pricing, “Lifetime,” “Total Comfort,” “No Breakdown,” “No Lemon,” “Apples-to-Apples,” “Cleaner Home,” and “Size Right” guarantees. Make Georgia Air Cooling & Heating your go-to for HVAC services, and start experiencing the benefits today!
Contact Georgia Air Cooling & Heating
During the winter, temperatures can seemingly drop in an instant. When the Georgia weather gets cold, you need a reliable furnace to heat your residential or commercial property and keep you warm. Your furnace’s heat exchanger is crucial for the entire operation.
So, what is a heat exchanger in a furnace? A heat exchanger transfers heat from one place to another, mixing hot and cold air to regulate air temperature and allowing your furnace to produce warm indoor temperatures. As a complex component, your heat exchanger requires professional maintenance to ensure it functions correctly. At Georgia Air Cooling & Heating, we know the ins and outs of furnaces and heat exchangers. Whether you need a routine tune-up or a furnace replacement, we have quality services to help. Call us today at 912-513-3361 to schedule an inspection or to learn more about before and after furnace installation in Richmond Hill, GA.