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Cracked Heat exchanger! where do you draw the line?

scrook_2 Member Posts: 610
A crack is a crack is a crack.I believe you are in the right.If you don't shut it down its your license,... your insurance,... your reputation that is on the line. Your the professional and if there is a crack you can always show/prove it.


  • Dan_56
    Dan_56 Member Posts: 1
    Heat Exchangers! Where do you draw the line?

    I am a heating tech with over 20 year’s experience. As a professional heating technician I have always believed that any time you have been requested to perform any task on any gas fired heating system. It is the responsibility of that technician to make certain that the system is safe in all aspects of it’s performance. A good 10 times of every season we experience the nightmare of a customer being upset with us because we shut a unit off due to a crack, fracture, rupture, opening anything you want to call it. But rest assured we are not a company that shuts any unit off for a sale, So please you will have to trust me on that. Now here is the problem. The type of crack that I am talking about is usually a small crack. I am talking about small Hairline cracks. Now we all know that the probabilities of that size of a crack will more than likely not cause a problem at that immediate time. But what it can do is become an unpredictable situation that can get worst / bigger in a matter of days, weeks or months. Now I do not blame the customer because they call in another heating contractor and 8 out of 10 time’s they just cannot find the crack and they tell the customer everything is fine. Naturally that is exactly what the customer wants to hear so then the customer goes after us. They say we were just trying to sell them a new furnace, they get our local T.V. station after us, call their lawyers etc. When in reality the customer doesn’t realize that the other contractor in my opinion is leaving the customer in an unpredictable / unsafe condition and if they want to take anyone to court they should take the guy that turned it back on. I don’t really blame the technician either because there was once a time when we were also not as efficient as we are today and not everyone can afford a Combustion analyzer but if you’re in this business you should have one.
    So my question is. I am in the state of New York, is there any law pertaining to exactly how a cracked heat exchanger should be handled? Is there any such documentation stating which size crack is allowed or do I understand correctly that any crack, fracture or opening is considered bad. (Keep in mind depending on size and location of crack it is not always about C.O. entering home. You could have positive air pressure from blower- blow into chamber and push flame out front of furnace or start plugging up the chamber with soot/carbon). I am interested in hearing how your company handles this situation. What is your policy?

    I am certainly not trying to cause friction among us technicians or companies. But i really do wish that some common law or rule could be followed by all when it comes to this subject. I am just tired of being abuseed for doing what i think is the right thing, if not for the customer's safety then for our company liability.

    Thank you
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,534

    Ditto on that,I once was called the "Heat Nazi" because i disabled a system that could have killed a women and two Kinds.She also kicked me out of her house! I told her that i did not care for the sale of a new furnace and that she should get a second or third opinion! That is what she did and the other company backed me up.Maybe it is time to set up a form that the customer will acknowledge the possible consequences and "Sign there Live away".Maybe then they may take these Issues more seriously or someone that Inspects it after your Company will take it more serious and check it better since they will be responsible for the Consequences...Heatmeister
  • dnr
    dnr Member Posts: 3

    our policy is if you can get liquid or lite through the crack we shut it down. went ot a class put on by Furnace safety Consultants, great class, look on line for testimonials.
  • Home owner_2
    Home owner_2 Member Posts: 7

    Get a Ridgid see snake and show the customer the crack and that usually shuts them up. Tag it out and have them sign a form.
  • i've been photodocumenting

    the condition of the unit in question for a couple years now, i state it on my svc ticket, keep a copy on my computer, and leave a copy at the office
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,534

    dnr,I do not know about the Liquid/Lite method,I let the exchanger heat up,Sometimes it takes a while to show.....Like 10 or 15 MIN. Just the way the Material reacts sometimes :,)
  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317
    crack=danger sign

    Well you certainly are not alone on having problems with this topic. First, good for you in shutting the units down, you are responsible to do the safe thing. What we say to people is that the furnace was designed without a crack and the crack shows a safety part that has been stressed enough to begin to fail. We also say that if one crack is seen there is a good chance that there are more that can't be seen. We also say that cracks never get smaller and while CO may not be present today it could be tomorrow. Also, how many times do you hear about a customer saying " no, since I told the tech to leave the furnace on I won't sue. Also, insurnace companies look for others to share claims with, do you want to be at a deposition after a house burns or a CO death saying " I (the professional) knew there was a failed heat exchanger but left it on because the customer might complain". What I tell our techs is "your main job is not fixing the furnace, your main job is public safety.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,692

    I just went to Colorado for some HX training, Ellis Prach knows this stuff.

    How about this: "if we're wrong, and there is no crack, we will pay you back 300% of you're initial service call fee, and pay for your new furnace installation."

    Also, if they want to be difficult, send a certified letter to the gas utility stating what you found... you can bet your bippie the gas co will act.

    just some thoughts.


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