I had my 20 year old Carrier forced air furnace tuned up today. The
technician snaked a camera up the inside of the furnace. He did NOT find
any cracks, but he found "bulging spots" which he also referred to as "hot
spots", inside the furnace. He claimed the heat exchanger had these bulges
and claimed that this is a sign that it is getting close to developing
cracks, and showed me the bulges.
But I wonder if what he showed me really was the heat exchanger....can a
camera can really be snaked up inside a heat exchanger?...or was what he
showed me something else. I always assumed that a heat exchanger is a
tremendously dense piece of metal and that you would not be able to "view
inside it with a camera" only "view it from below with a camera". This
same cavity could also be seen without a camera by looking into the furnace
with flashlight (he had removed one of the panels above where the burners
are) What he showed me was was a vertical cavity which had a couple of
bulges on the sides of the cavity which were bulging toward the outside.
Is that really the heat exchanger he showed me? What does the heat
exchanger on a 20 Yr. old Carrier furnace look like and exactly where is it
There is also some rust present on the inside of the furnace.
The burners look like they produce a nice blue flame.
The technician is recommending a new furnace based on the age and based on
the bulges and rust. Do I really need to be seriously thinking about
getting a new furnace at this time because of the rust and bulges, or is it
possible this furnace could last several more years? I believe they
recommended a new furnace 3 years ago when I moved in although I don't
recall anyone showing me the bulges before, but I'm suspecting they could
have been present 3 years ago too.
BTW, the company I've been using prefers to install Goodman systems,
although they would also be willing to give me a price on another brand that
I have in mind which is Carrier. They say that they will warranty both the
parts and labor for 10 years on the Goodman, but the warranty on the Carrier
would depend on what their warranty is. Is a Goodman likely to last as long
as a Carrier?
On Thu, 04 Oct 2007 22:38:58 +0000, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I used to do furnace checks and was told to sell new furnace installs at
any cost short of being fraudulent. The heat exchanger in you furnace is
welded steel and is not known to crack or develop leaks at the welded
seams. However at 20 years in service I would consider an upgrade if it is
your budget to afford it. If it is affordable you would benefit from an
increased efficiency in a high SEER rated furnace.
I'm sure they love the idea of selling me a new furnace even if it isn't
really necessary at this time.
Wondering if other metal inside the furnace were to crack and it weren't the
heat exchanger cracking per se....would that require furnace replacement?
The notion of a cracked heat exchanger being a hazard involves the leaking
of CO into the living space.
Be aware that, for thousands of years, humans heated their dwellings without
benefit of heat exchangers; some still do today.
I grew up in a home with natural gas heaters in every room. The only problem
it ever caused me is the inability to tie my shoes. In all fairness, lately
I have noticed a difficulty in using complicated mechanical devices (such as
Nevertheless, a CO detector (or a canary) is far, far cheaper than a new
Furnaces are only built to last for 18 - 20 years. The new models use a
fraction of the energy to run them. You can keep funneling money into
repairs, and giving your money to the utility company if you want. Its been
my personal experience that when I install a new comfort system in a
customers home, there utility bills drop on the average of 60%, and the new
system is so quiet, they are not even aware that its running.
Its your choice....Keeping the old furnace will cost you more in the long
run, and you'll *STILL* have to replace it...... its not a matter of *IF*,
its a matter of *WHEN*
Paul is right. Furnaces don't have SEER ratings, that is an AC
I manage several (around 20) townhouses that all have 16-17 year old
Carrier furnaces. We have replaced 3-4, and are expecting to have to
replace the rest of them over the next 2-3 years because the heat
exchangers are failing. Granted, it is generally the secondary heat
exchangers getting plugged with crud, but it isn't far fetched that
the primaries are failing too, or if you have an 80% efficient model,
the primary is all you have.
To the OP -
No, a heat exchanger is NOT a very dense piece of metal. Here is a
link to a photo :
Your tech, from above or below, would be looking at the outside of
this, getting the same view as you have in the pictures. Typically,
on an upflow furnace, the heat exchanger is in the top of the cabinet,
but we don't know what you have.
Like Paul said, get another opinion. If you decide to wait, do
yourself a favor and spend $30 (or so) on a carbon monoxide detector.
A 30 dollar CO detector is crap.
Unless you spend a couple hundred dollars on a good one, it's a false sense
Sure do... look up UL-2034
Then check the data on acceptable alarm levels.
Now find a normal big box store that carries anything *but* UL listed
Name one of those detectors that sound an alarm when the CO sensor fails.
Most people don't understand that they need to be replaced after a few
It a false sense of security, PERIOD.
hehe. 95% of the population (I made that percentage up on guesstimate)
doesn't have a clue that an "average" CO detector might as well just
be a dim night light plugged in the wall.
At least you can tell when a night light goes bad.
They do have EERs, like ASHRAE bunnies: if a furnace moves 40K Btu/h
with a 400 watt blower, the EER is 40K/(400x3.41) = 29.
If a 2K Btu/h car radiator with 36 W fans moves (140-50)2K = 180K Btu/h
from 140 F solar heated water to 50 F air with a 170 W pump, the EER is
180K/(206x3.41) = 256.
re: "No, a heat exchanger is NOT a very dense piece of metal."
Granted, I can't speak to a 20 YO Carrier, but the heat exchanger on
my old gas fired unit was one heavy, honkin' mass of metal, looking
somewhat similiar to an old water filled radiator. By far the heaviest
component of the entire furnace.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.