One reason it's important to have yearly furnace maintenance done by a licensed HVAC technician is so the heat exchanger in your furnace can be checked and cleaned. The heat exchanger is an important part because it heats the air that blows through the ducts and it also sends combustion gases out the flue. Here's a look at how the heat exchanger works, why it's important to maintain it, and what an HVAC technician might do during an annual service call.
How The Heat Exchanger Works
The heat exchanger is in the combustion area of your furnace above the gas burners. Heat from the burners goes in the exchanger where it meets air that also flows through the exchanger. The heat warms up the air as it passes through and continues through the system to come out the registers and warm your home.
The heat exchanger also connects to the flue so carbon monoxide and other gases you don't want circulating in your home go up the flue and out of your house.
Why Maintenance Is Important
Since the heat exchanger holds and expels carbon monoxide, it's important that it functions properly. A crack in the heat exchanger is a serious furnace problem. Unless the damage is something minor, a heat exchanger isn't usually repaired. Instead, if it's cracked or rusted out, the exchanger has to be replaced.
The heat exchanger is an expensive part, so when it's bad, the HVAC professional might recommend buying a new furnace rather than put a lot of money in repairing your old one. By having yearly maintenance done on the heat exchanger, it has a longer life, so your furnace has a longer life too.
How A Heat Exchanger Is Serviced
One of the most important steps is to examine the heat exchanger for cracks and other damage. The heat exchanger has tubes in it along with baffles. The maintenance technician will probably remove the baffles and look in the tubes with a flashlight for signs of damage.
If the tubes are coated with soot, dust, or other debris, the technician can clean the tubes out with a brush. Clean tubes help your furnace operate more efficiently, so cleaning them is important if they need it.
The furnace maintenance technician will also clean the entire combustion area since dirty burners could make the heat exchanger get dirty faster. A clean furnace is a safer furnace and also one that has a lower risk of breaking down, so furnace maintenance is something that should be top priority every year.