Did an HVAC tech tell you that you need a new heat exchanger?
If so, they probably quoted you a pretty high price. And now you’re doing your research to find out if you really need a new heat exchanger.
Unfortunately, it’s true that heat exchangers are expensive to replace. Here in Boise, the cost to replace a heat exchanger ranges from $800 to $2,800+.
In this article, we’ll answer some common heat exchanger questions:
- Why are heat exchangers so expensive to replace?
- Do I actually need a new heat exchanger?
- Should I replace the heat exchanger or get a new furnace?
Want a FREE second opinion from a Boise pro?
Why are heat exchangers so expensive to replace?
First, just a quick recap on what a heat exchanger does: Essentially, a heat exchanger is a series of metal coils in your furnace that heat your home’s air.
Think of the heat exchanger as the coils in your toaster. Those coils heat up—either via gas burners or electric resistance heating. As air blows over the coils, heat is “exchanged” from the coils to the air. The hot air then blows directly into your home.
So, why are heat exchangers so expensive to replace?
Well, if your heat exchanger is damaged and needs to be replaced, the majority of what you’ll pay goes toward labor. A tech will need to disassemble the furnace to remove the old exchanger, which can take up to 10 hours.
As for the actual heat exchanger, most manufacturers usually offer a 20-year or lifetime warranty on the part itself. So, if your warranty is still valid, you shouldn’t have to pay for the part itself—only the labor to replace it.
Do I actually need a new heat exchanger?
If your heat exchanger coils are cracked, you’ll need a new heat exchanger.
A cracked heat exchanger is dangerous because harmful gases produced during combustion (like carbon monoxide) can leak out of the heat exchanger and into in the air that’s pushed back into your home—the air your family breathes.
But here’s the thing: Some furnace techs try to scare homeowners into getting a new heat exchanger when they don’t really need one. For example, they may claim you have cracks and need the heat exchanger replaced immediately, when in reality there either are no cracks or the cracks they’ve found are too small to pose any danger.
So, how do you know you’re not being scammed?
The only way to know for sure that you need a new heat exchanger is to have the tech show you the cracks in the coils.
According to the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), “Any crack or hole that is big enough to affect combustion will be easily visible to the naked eye.”
That means the tech should show you exactly where the crack is—you don’t have to just take their word for it.
Should I replace the heat exchanger or get a new furnace?
Let’s say you actually need a new heat exchanger. Since it’s so expensive, should you replace the heat exchanger or just get a new furnace?
The answer depends on the age of your furnace. You see, furnaces only last 15 to 20 years. The closer your furnace is to 20 years, the more you should consider replacing the furnace.
Think of it this way: Older furnaces need repairs. These multiple repairs, alongside the cost of the heat exchanger, will quickly add up to the cost of a new furnace. So replacing the heat exchanger now may be throwing money at a lost cause.
On the other hand, if your furnace is 10 years old or younger, and your warranty is still valid, it’s probably most cost effective to replace the heat exchanger.
Want a FREE second opinion about your heat exchanger?
Our trustworthy techs will visually inspect your heat exchanger to find any cracks in the coils. If there are cracks, our techs will point them out to you.
When you hire us, you don’t have to worry about any pushy sales tactics or dishonest diagnoses.