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Old 11-29-2009, 02:09 PM   #1
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


I Have a HEIL furnace that has cost me $1000 in labour so far, parts extra and still rolls out every other cycle. Have changed the pressure valve, the inducer assembly, cleaned the AC evaporator, blew out the intake and exhaust lines with hi pressure air etc.

From what I have read here there may be a problem with the heat exchanger, which is under warranty, but the labour will run about $600 to change it out, and no guarantee that will solve the problem.

Many years ago our plumber would check the furnace for an exchanger crack by putting a small pan of burning sulpher in the combustion air intake and fire up the furnace, if you smelt sulpher in the building, you knew the exchanger was shot.

Is there any reason why this could not be used to confirm an exchanger failure on these closed combustion units?

Your thought on this greatly appreciated...

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Old 11-29-2009, 02:16 PM   #2
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


Chemical tests as you describe are no longer used.

Go to GoHeil.com and get the phone number to the factory. they will refer someone.

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Old 11-29-2009, 02:52 PM   #3
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


Who did the repairs in the first place and why did they not suspect the heat exchanger? Do they not guarantee their work? The only way to know for sure is to visually find the crack or see the flame rollout after the fan cuts in. An experienced tech can do that. I would try negotiate a refund or part refund from the first guys and apply it to a new unit. With the 15 % home reno fed grant (expires Jan 31/2010) you may be better off. Lousy furnace if it has a smartvalve and the heat ex has been a problem with them from my experience.
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:12 PM   #4
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


First, I want to thank all of you who have responded so quickly, appreciate the help.

HVACLOVER - I suspected that the old chemical test was an no no today, just wanted to confirm, although I suspect the old test is still as effective today as it was back in the 70's

YURI - Unfortunately, where I live there is a very limited supply of alternate providers. This HEIL was the first 90%+ furnace installed in Fort McMurray a decade ago by the same company that has done the recent "troubleshooting". The nearest town to where we are with a plumber is about 200 miles away... Joy of living in Northern Alberta

They have offered to sell me a new furnace at cost and charge 4 hours labour, which I think is a fair deal. Also getting them to install a new Hi Eff hot water tank at the same time (There goes Christmas)

Just wanted to know if my "old school" test would confirm. Hate to through out a good furnace if it was something simple, but at same time cannot afford to throw away any more money without a guaranteed fix, the wife is POed already! Don't want to spend the winter in the garage!
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:28 PM   #5
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


That test was never 100% reliable.
A hole or crack could exist. But not show under many circumstances.
If it was done improperly. Along with the fact that many heat exchangers from new, are not 100% air tight. You could get a false positive for a crack.
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Old 11-29-2009, 04:17 PM   #6
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


That is true. I was reading about the recommended test for high efficiency furnaces by HRAI and the only way is a visual test or monitor the change in CO in an area. Not foolproof. The tubular exchangers are crimped (Goodmans) and part runs in a vacuum so they don't have to be pressure tight. They expand and seal when heated. Fort M is probably the most expensive area in Canada for heating repairs so I would take their offer and go with a new one. Cheaper than a divorce lawyer. You can probably still get the rebate too from the Feds. Spending time in the garage is no fun. Want to know what a Three dog night is? Not a rock band.

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Old 11-29-2009, 06:31 PM   #7
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


That furnace could have a few problems with it. The rings from the primary heat exchanger could have popped. It cold have a few cracks in the secondary heat exchanger on the plastic end cap or could be as simple as the exhaust pipe drooped in the ceiling and collecting water.
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:29 AM   #8
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


[quote=Kozzy49;359027]

YURI - Unfortunately, where I live there is a very limited supply of alternate providers. This HEIL was the first 90%+ furnace installed in Fort McMurray a decade ago by the same company that has done the recent "troubleshooting". The nearest town to where we are with a plumber is about 200 miles away... Joy of living in Northern Alberta


Hey Kozzy!

Next time you get ripped off you can call this guy
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:16 AM   #9
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Checking for suspected crack in heat exchanger


Hi HVACLOVER

Thanks for the advice. Sgt Preston will live for ever!

Well the plumber is coming today!

New Hi Efficiency furnace $2650, new Hot water tank $1350, Total: $4000!

At least I know someone is having a merry Christmas... One bright spot, my wife will be happy! We both are concerned about the roll out, they don't put safety systems in without good reason, and the temperature is headed for the cellar -14C (7F), not a time of year to be fooling around...

You and yours have a fantastic Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year!

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