Can I Install a New Heat Exchanger Without Replacing the Furnace?

A cracked heat exchanger is an extremely serious problem that poses severe safety concerns. Replacing it without installing a new furnace is possible but expensive. Contact a professional quickly to weigh your options, as this is a dangerous situation involving the release of carbon monoxide and other toxic gases, which can result in severe illness and even death.

What Is a Heat Exchanger?

A heat exchanger is a metal container within your furnace made up of tubes and coils that collect the heat and combustion gases from your furnace. A heat exchanger works by funneling the combustion gases to an exhaust pipe to vent outside, while the heat is transferred from the air on the combustion side of the heat exchanger to the metal. 

The blower constantly moves new air around the outside of the heat exchanger, which collects the heat from the metal. As the air warms up, it moves into the ventilation system and is blown throughout the house.

Should I Replace My Heat Exchanger or Replace the Whole Furnace?

If you have noticed signs that your heat exchanger is cracked, you have two options: replace the cracked heat exchanger or replace the entire furnace. There are two major factors to consider in deciding how to proceed:

Replacing the Heat Exchanger & Repairing Your Furnace

Can you replace a heat exchanger in a furnace? Replacing just the heat exchanger and not replacing the entire furnace is an option. If your furnace is less than ten years old and the rest of the components are in good condition, it will likely be worth just replacing the heat exchanger component. An HVAC technician can replace the damaged heat exchanger and install a new one.

However, replacing a heat exchanger is one of the most expensive furnace repairs you can do. The component is expensive; it has to match your model furnace, and the labor to remove the old one and install the new one is considerable. 

Generally, an experienced professional will recommend replacing the entire furnace if the repair will cost more than half the price of a brand-new unit. 

Replacing Your Entire Furnace

Cracked heat exchangers typically occur in furnaces that are more than 15 years old, and the exchanger has been weakened over time due to corrosion. Even if the exchanger is replaced, an old furnace will soon need additional repairs or even full replacement. Older furnaces are less efficient due to age and even just being an older design. Components to repair older appliances are expensive. 

Cost is usually the main deciding factor. A newer furnace is unlikely to require repairs, and your utility bills will decrease. Not to mention, your new furnace will likely be covered by a warranty, which will take care of any repair services needed for the first few years. While you’ll invest upfront in a new system, you’ll save over time on repairs and operating costs.

How Is Your Furnace Performing?

The age of your furnace, utility costs, and the heat exchange repair costs are just a few considerations. Examine how well your furnace is performing. Does it show signs that it might be time to replace your heater

If the unit is noisy, turns on and off frequently, or has a yellow or orange burner flame, it should be replaced. When some parts of your home are hotter or colder than others, this is a sign of a failing furnace.

Heat Exchanger Replacement Cost

Replacing a heat exchanger can cost anywhere from $800 to $5,000, according to Forbes. The average cost to replace a heat exchanger is $1,750 for most homeowners. 

The component itself usually costs between $350 and $850, depending on availability and age. It’s important to note that larger heat exchangers cost more than smaller ones, and prices can vary by brand. 

Most certified technicians will charge between $75 and $125 per hour to replace a heat exchanger, and the process can take anywhere from five to eight hours. Most homeowners can expect to pay around $500 to $800 in labor costs and even more if it happens outside of regular business hours. 

Additionally, some municipalities require that a licensed professional adhere to safety codes when replacing the exchanger and require a permit that usually costs around $150. 

What If My Newer Furnace’s Heat Exchanger Fails?

A furnace that’s under ten years old is unlikely to have such a problem, but it’s not unheard of. Fortunately, many heating systems have a ten-year parts warranty, and some warranties cover heat exchanger replacement. 

However, labor warranties don’t usually provide coverage for that long. You may still have to pay for the labor, which can account for most of the cost of repair. Having to pay for parts and labor will cost even more, but it’s important to weigh the options whether the warranty has expired or not.

When your furnace starts to show signs of wear and age, the experts at Black Hills can help determine your best options. An issue such as a cracked heat exchanger often means it’s time to think about replacing the unit. Our licensed, bonded technicians are experienced in furnace installations, replacements, and upgrades. All installation work is covered by a 100 percent money-back guarantee.

Contact Black Hills for expert heater services in western Washington. To schedule an appointment, book service with us online or call 888-338-1312 today.