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What is your Heat Exchanger? Associated Problems & Safety Concerns

What is a Heat Exchanger?

The heat exchanger in a furnace separates the combustion process from your breathing air.  Air is heated as it is blown across the hot metal surface of the heat exchanger. The heated air is then distributed through the house to warm the house.

The heat exchanger must have an air (and gas) tight seal to separate the gasses inside the heat exchanger from the breathing air passing over the outside surface. This is because the flue gasses can be poisonous.  Carbon Monoxide Gas and contamination of the breathing air by these gasses pose a health risk and can be fatal.

Why do Heat Exchangers fail?

All heat exchangers fail eventually. This is because of metal fatigue. Metal when it is heated up expands, and when it is cooled off contracts. This expansion/contraction cycle is part of the normal furnace heating process. Over time this constant expansion and contraction has the same effect on a heat exchanger that bending a paperclip back and forth, it breaks.  Upon this failure, contamination occurs and it is no longer safe.

While heat exchangers are typically manufactured to last between 10 – 20 years, many factors can accelerate the process of heat exchanger failure. These factors usually fall under the categories of poor maintenance, poor initial system design and installation, or poor equipment design by the manufacturer. Any one or a combination of these factors can result in a heat exchanger failing in a few short years.

How can you know when a Heat Exchanger has failed?

A heat exchanger must be visually inspected on a regular basis. Visual observation of light or water passing through the breach is positive confirmation of a crack or hole in a heat exchanger.


What are the Safety Concerns of a faulty Heat Exchanger?

When it comes to gas appliance and furnace safety, homeowners may assume that the flammability of gas is the main hazard to guard against. However, Bob Underwood, technical training manager at Estes Services in Atlanta, says that the more important safety concern with regard to gas furnaces is actually the accidental venting of carbon monoxide into the home.

“There are high-temperature limiting devices on furnaces to protect against fire,” he points out, “so the primary problem is that carbon monoxide could leak into the home.”

In a properly functioning gas furnace system, the flue transfers carbon monoxide (and other gases produced by combustion) safely out of the house; a damaged or blocked flue can send them into the home instead.

A gas furnace’s heat exchanger is another potential source of leaked carbon monoxide. The heat exchanger contains the gas combustion chamber. As air is circulated through the HVAC system, it passes over the heat exchanger and absorbs thermal energy before it’s circulated throughout the house.

Over time, the heat exchanger can crack or separate, allowing carbon monoxide to enter the house. Bob not only knows why cracks in heat exchangers sometimes develop, but he also knows what homeowners should do when this problem occurs as well as how regular maintenance can help prevent it in the first place

What are the options if a Heat Exchanger is bad?

There are only two options if a Heat Exchanger is bad:

  1. Replace the heat exchanger or replace the furnace. If the heat exchanger is under warranty, this option is a good way to go unless it is unavailable in the time frame needed, which can be immediate in cold weather.
  2. The other factors are energy efficiency and cost of service which can make replacing the furnace a preferable option even if the furnace is under warranty and available. If a furnace is out of warranty the preferable option is to replace the furnace.

How does Cagle Service, LLC provide the highest level of confidence possible?

There are two areas where a high level of confidence is vital for you:

  1. To have the assurance that if there is a breach in the heat exchanger that it is discovered.To give you this assurance Cagle Service, LLC has made a substantial investment in inspection systems for all of their service technicians to eliminate any uncertainty about the integrity of your furnace and to give you maximum peace of mind about your safety.
  2. To have the assurance that if the heat exchanger is diagnosed as bad that it really is bad.

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Improve Your HVAC System’s Energy Efficiency

When it comes to energy efficiency, I would say that most people would desire to improve in this area. One of the most energy-consuming items to evaluate is our heating and air conditioning system. There are ways to make your system more efficient, and in this post I’m going to share some tips with you that can reduce your energy bills and make your home or business more energy efficient!

energy efficiency

Newer Heating and Air Units Are More Efficient

As we advance in learning and technology, our products and systems continue to advance as well. Just take our cell phones and automobiles for example (ok, some might not agree with the automobile statement!). But you get my point!

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Is Your AC Low on Freon, Continuously?

One of the most common service calls HVAC Service companies get is a complaint that the customer’s AC is low on Freon. Or they “need to have their unit recharged”. While this might seem normal and expected to the average person, it isn’t how it’s supposed to be!

ac low on freon

How Freon Works

Freon in itself is simply a refrigerant, or coolant. It’s a gas. This gas refrigerant is cycled through your air conditioner, starting with the ac compressor.

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Should I Replace My Air Conditioner?

Oh to have a brand new, high-efficient air conditioner! Wouldn’t that be great?

should I replace my air conditioner

But do you really need to replace your current air conditioner? Let’s go over some of the signs that indicate it might be time to replace your air conditioner, and also some of the benefits of replacement. We will also share some signs that indicate that you do not need a new air conditioner.

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Service Call? What Is It And How Much?

In the heating and air conditioning business, and the service business in general, we have a term referred to as a “service call”. It’s probably our most commonly used service term.

But what is it exactly? And what about the fee associated with it?

I’m glad you asked!

hvac service call

Service Call 101

A service call is simply a service that is rendered when a homeowner or business owner has a problem or malfunction that they need examined or diagnosed. 

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What Size AC Unit Do I Need?

When it comes to purchasing a new central air conditioning unit, there can be a lot of information to sort through. Pricing and getting a reliable brand are important factors. And of course, the size of the unit needed for your home (or business). In this post, we hope to help you gain a better understanding of the latter information: The size of the unit.

What size AC Unit

We aren’t going to go too in depth here. This is going to be a simple breakdown for the average home or business owner to estimate what size AC unit that they need.

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Air Conditioning Installation Job | Jackson TN

Hello everyone! It looks (and feels) like Spring is arriving. Hopefully it’s here to stay! 

We wanted to share with you a recent air conditioning installation job we did locally here in Jackson, TN.

The Air Conditioning Installation Job

The site is a commercial site located near Union University in a brand new shopping plaza. The location needed 8 new AC units to provide their air conditioning for all of the businesses that will be operating out of that plaza.

This specific AC installation job was somewhat unique. In order to accomplish this task, we had to hire a crane operator to assist us with the installation:

Air Conditioning installation in Jackson TN

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Annual Preventative Maintenance Package

Hello everyone! Well, it seems like Spring is coming upon us (I think)! That means that we will be using our air conditioners in the near future, as the heat increases. We recently shared with you all that we would be posting information concerning our Preventative Maintenance Package that we run all year. Well, the time has come!


Preventative Maintenance Package?

At Cagle Service, we like to call our package the “VIP Priority Maintenance Package”. The package consists of 2 scheduled maintenance inspections on your entire AC unit and its corresponding parts. Servicing your unit is also included, if needed. These 2 inspections are done over the course of 1 year. Here are some of the included elements of the inspection/service:

  • Inspect electrical circuits and wiring
  • Check and service refrigerant/freon
  • Check the air duct flow rate
  • Clean the Unit Condenser
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Preventative Maintenance

Preventive maintenance on your HVAC system will not only ensure that the equipment is operating at maximum efficiency but it will also extend the life of that equipment. Government research shows that a regular tune-up of your heating and cooling system will save you money in the long run because of reduced energy costs. The high efficiency air conditioners on the market now can cut electric bills significantly but only if they are properly maintained.

When a trained service technician comes to your home to perform the maintenance check, they will do several things:

Check refrigerant levels and inspect for leaks
Clean and straighten condenser coils to ensure proper air flow
Check gas connections for leaks
Tighten all electrical connections
Lubricate all moving parts
Test thermostat to make sure it’s cycling the system on and off properly
Check air filter

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Tips To Cleaner Air Inside Your Home

How clean is the air in your home? We would all like to believe that the air around us is clean and pure. This is not always the case. Here are a few links and tips for you and your family to begin breathing cleaner air!


Click to read more

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