Replacing a Heat Exchanger: Is It Worth It?

Facing the decision to replace a heat exchanger, which can cost between $1,500 and $3,500, might leave you pondering whether it's more prudent to invest in a new furnace altogether. This decision hinges on several considerations. Despite the initial sticker shock associated with replacing a heat exchanger, there are circumstances where this might be the most advantageous route for you.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • Signs of a failing heat exchanger
  • What a heat exchanger does
  • Evaluating the cost of replacement

Deciding whether the new heat exchanger cost is worth it will differ for each homeowner. You’ll need to evaluate the state of your furnace to find the right answer for your needs. Learn more about your heat exchanger and when you should spring for a replacement versus investing in a new furnace.

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Signs of a Failing Heat Exchanger

Before we get into replacement costs, let’s quickly touch on the signs of a failing heat exchanger. If left untreated, a broken heat exchanger can put you and your family at risk of exposure to lethal fumes and gasses.

If you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, this should be the easiest detection method, as it will detect a CO leak and let you know there is a problem. If not, the fumes that escape the exchanger can irritate the eyes and cause headaches and nausea. In addition, finding soot inside your furnace indicates that a crack or hole exists since any residue from combustion should be contained within your heat exchanger. If there is a crack large enough for you to see, you don't need to wait for any other signs and should make a decision immediately to prevent negative impacts on your health.

What Does a Heat Exchanger Do?

Essentially, your furnace’s heat exchanger is what warms the air before it gets sent through your ductwork. Because this component of your furnace experiences the highest heat levels, the joints will degrade over time, possibly leading to cracks in the metal casing.

Heat exchangers can be very difficult to repair, and in many cases, a replacement is recommended. If your manufacturer’s warranty has expired (or was voided due to lack of maintenance), the part and labor costs of a heat exchanger replacement will likely be far too expensive. In this case, you’re better off investing in a brand-new furnace.

Evaluating the Cost of Replacement

The high price tag on your furnace heat exchanger cost is due to the work needed to complete the job. As mentioned above, it may be better to invest that money into the price of a new furnace, but there are a few exceptions to this.

Age of Your Heating System

Furnaces have an average lifespan of around 10 years, and most exchangers tend to go out around this time. If your furnace is close to this 10-year mark, a new furnace is likely a better investment. If your furnace is relatively new, a new heat exchanger may be worth it to avoid early furnace replacement.

Status of Your Warranty

If your warranty still covers your heat exchanger, the replacement cost is less of an issue because a good chunk of your cost will be covered. This is usually applicable for newer furnaces, so getting the full benefit of your warranty is definitely worth it if that's an option.

Energy Savings of a New Furnace

If your furnace has no active warranty and is close to the end of its life anyway, getting a new furnace is the smart choice. New furnaces are more efficient and will come with new warranties. They can also help if your heating needs have increased beyond the abilities of your current furnace.

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We've been serving homeowners in the Portland metro area for over 40 years. When you choose us to handle your furnace repair, you can rest assured that our knowledgeable technicians have the tools and training to handle any issue– and fix it right the first time around. Plus, we’re committed to keeping our prices fair and honest. Schedule online today, and we’ll reach out to confirm a convenient appointment time!

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