Can You Repair a Cracked Heat Exchanger on a Gas Furnace? It is Worth the Cost?

red tagged heat exchanger

One of the most common reasons a gas furnace can be taken out of service, is when the repair technician finds to a cracked heat exchanger.

The furnace heat exchanger is the one of the main components inside the gas furnace and it’s used to transfer the heat from the gas burner to the warm air that’s blown into your home. When a gas furnace heat exchanger fails, not only is it dangerous and can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, the heat exchanger replacement cost is usually on the high side of typical furnace repair costs.

In this Gas Furnace Guide article, we’ll take a look at how hard it is to replace the heat exchanger in a gas furnace, and help you decide if it’s even worth replacing, due to age of your furnace, price of a new heat exchanger, and the labor to install it. In many cases, the cost to replace just the furnace is not much more than replacing the heat exchanger itself.

Dangers of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

Before you consider running your furnace with a cracked heat exchanger, you should know that it can be very dangerous, and if the cracks are large or there are actual holes (like swiss cheese), it could be deadly and you need to take it very seriously! This is one of those times that you want to error on the side of safety, its worth it! Read more about Carbon Monoxide Tips and Safety, and general Gas Furnace safety tips.

  • CO is not CAUSED by a Crack in the Heat Exchanger. Carbon Monoxide is the result of unburned fuel, not the heat exchanger.
  • Cracks can release CO (Carbon Monoxide) into your home.
  • The cracks DO NOT get better, eventually, it MUST be replaced.

The safety factor is why most heating contractors handle it like they recently did with Ally Bean of The Spectacled Bean. The heating contractor will place a red-tag on your furnace, disconnect the power and natural gas service, and report it to the gas company when they find cracks. Most often, they want to cover their own butts, and make sure they fault on the side of safety.

In some cases, less than professional heating contractors have used this as a tool to pressure homeowners into buying a new furnace, so it’s important that you never settle for one opinion. Unless you have a long-standing trustworthy relationship and have complete confidence in the heating contractor, always get a second opinion before you agree to let the anyone do any work on your system. Get free repair quotes from local qualified contractors.

What’s Covered Under Warranty

Many gas furnace brands have a heat exchanger warranty that lasts the life of the system. This will usually cover the cost of the heat exchanger part itself, and may include some of the other parts that may need to be removed in order to replace the heat exchanger.Your heating repair contractor will have to handle the warranty claim with the manufacturer, and get the replacement parts from the factory or part supply house if they are available.

The main issue with warranties like this is that in order to replace the heat exchanger, you have to disassemble the entire gas furnace and the cost of labor to do it, is going to be very high. (View common furnace repair costs) After you get the new heat exchanger installed, you still have an old furnace that is bound to fail again very soon.

Replacement Versus Repair

When you hear that you will still have to cover $1200 of labor to replace the heat exchanger, its worth your time to make sure you get a furnace replacement estimate. You may find that for not much more money, you can get a new, higher efficiency furnace that will provide much higher return on your investment, and may even quality for tax credits.

When to Consider Repairing the Heat Exchanger -

  • Furnace is less than 10 years old
  • 100% covered by manufacturers warranty
  • Repair cost is less than 25% of the replacement cost

When to Replace the Furnace -

  • Furnace is more than 7 years old
  • Furnace is low efficiency
  • Damage is beyond repair
  • You have already gotten at least 2 second opinions.

Read more about deciding when to replace or repair your gas furnace to get a better idea of the cost factors involved with owning an old unit.

Share Your Experience

Have you recently had your furnace red-tagged or been told you need to replace your furnace heat exchanger? Did you have your heat exchanger repaired by a local contractor? If so, please consider sharing your experience below, it will help future readers faced with the same issue.

Get  Free Estimates

Comments

3 Responses to “Can You Repair a Cracked Heat Exchanger on a Gas Furnace? It is Worth the Cost?”
  1. Christopher says:

    Our 20+ year old Trane furnace was recently shut off because of a bad heat exchanger. The tech quoted us $950 for a new xb80 heat exchanger, plus an additional $300 in other parts. We decided to replace versus repair and the new furnace cost us $2900, 92% afue, installed.

    Christopher

  2. Chris says:

    I am having my heat exchanger replaced as we speak. The labour cost is $800 because the part is covered under warranty. This is still a lot of money and even though most quotes sound the same I really think we are being taken advantage of. We replaced the piece because the furnace is a high efficiency Trane worth about $5000 and is only 8 years old. But I am not happy with Trane because after 7 years this is a very expensive part to replace and if it is warrantied for life and fails then I believe the Trane company should also pay for the labour. My Trane has had several problems for a 7 year old furnace, If and when we get a new one I doubt it will be a Trane but hopefully that won’t be for a while.

  3. David says:

    Why would they pay labor? No other company does that. They do have extended warranty’s that do cover labor. It’s 8 years old. The best thing you can do for your heat exchanger is make sure your ducting is the right size. Make sure all your vents are open, contrary to gas company’s telling you to shut them off, this raises the heat rise of the furnace. Make sure your heating company makes sure your heat rise is not over 60 degrees F….. Next, how often do you replace your filter. Dirty air filters cause the temp to rise in the furnace, it can’t breathe.
    Now then, the worst thing a tech can do is tell you your heat exchanger is junk. He doesn’t like it because the war is on. Example: Recently I told an old lady her 32 year old furnace had a breach in her heat exchanger…… All of a sudden I’m a bad guy. I put her finger in the hole, she agreed, a week later some hack told her the hole in her heat exchanger is ok to run like that. She refuses to tell me who it is, because I would invite him over. He just put her life in his hands. Another guy the same week is now in the hospital for his heat exchanger, he should be out by friday. This is one game that contractors don’t like to play. I have actually had bad furnaces putting out CO beyond belief and could not find the hole when we pulled the furnace. So contrary to everyone using this to sell furnaces, is not true for a lot of us. It’s a pain, you find a crack and the war is on.

Join In The Conversation

We really want to hear from you!
Join in and share your comments!