Tips For Cleaning The Heat Exchanger Tubes In Your Furnace

work gloves and screw drivers

Now that winter is in full swing, are you getting the most effective results from your furnace? If not, then it might be time to get some routine maintenance done on it to help it perform better. While most of the more important tasks should be performed by a licensed and qualified repair technician, there are some things that you can do yourself to help things run better between professional services. One of those things is to clean your heat exchanger tube. Let’s take a quick look at how you can do this with these simple tips.

Turn Off The Power Or Gas Before You Start

Never under any circumstance should you access the interior components of your furnace with the power or gas still active. If you are unsure how to turn off the power or gas to your furnace or are not comfortable doing so the first time call a professional and let them show you how to do it.

Get Into The Access Panel

Once you have turned off the power and/or gas use a screwdriver or the thumb screws to remove the bolts that are holding the access panel in place. Once you are inside, use a bright light and a cell phone to take a picture of the heat exchanger and how it is sitting in the compartment. You should also use tape to label where the connections are made to the pipes that connect to the heat exchanger.

Get The Dust & Dirt Off The Heat Exchanger

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust, dirt, cobwebs, and other debris that may have accumulated on the unit. Then use a wet cloth with a very mild detergent to carefully wipe down the pipes and hoses that lead to the heat exchanger. This will make taking the exchanger out in a few minutes easier since the exterior of the unit will be clean and easier to handle. It also helps to prevent any of this debris, dust, or dirt from getting all over your carpet.

Clean The Heat Exchanger Itself

Using a pipe brush and a recommended diluted cleaner, make sure that you scrub out the inside and all exterior surfaces of the exchanger until everything is smooth and shiny. There may be a lot of sediment built up inside the tubes so you may need to change out your cleaning solution a few times depending on how long it has been, if ever, since the unit was last cleaned. Once you have it cleaned up inside and out make sure to flush it clean with fresh water till the water runs clear.

Cleaning The Inside Of The Heat Exchanger Tubes

Here you will need a power washer. This will help you to get all of the build-up and grime out of the interior of the tubes. This simple procedure is easy to do:

  • Connect the end of the power washer hose to the intake of the heat exchanger and the recycle hose of your power washer to the output of the heat exchanger.
  • Fill the power washer reservoir with the power washer. If you do not have a power washer that has a recycle feature, use a bucket to collect the fluid and place the feed hose of the power washer into the bucket.
  • Turn on the power washer and gently squeeze the trigger.
  • After several minutes change out the water with a fresh solution and repeat. Now change the water and repeat one more time.
  • Lastly, change the water out with fresh water without cleaning agent and flush the tubes out fully for one full cycle.

Replace The Heat Exchanger

Use the picture that you took and the notes you make on the pipe connections earlier to re-mount and re-connect the exchanger to your furnace. Replace all of the bolts, screws and other fasteners in the same way that you removed them and then replace the access panel.

While you are cleaning your unit’s heat exchanger take a moment to inspect the wiring harness, make sure the plugs are in good shape, change the filter, clean out the air intake and output vents throughout the house, and pour a recommended cleaner through the condenser drain pipe to clear any bacteria build up.

Once you are all done, its time to turn the power and or gas back on and relight the pilot light according to the manufacturer’s instructions if applicable.

Now that you have cleaned the heat exchanger inside and out and performed some basic maintenance on your furnace, you should be getting much better performance from it, and your home should be more comfortable than before. If not, then it may be time for a professional inspection and repair as something may not be working properly with your furnace. Call a licensed and experienced professional at AirOne Heating and Air Conditioning to get your furnace back in working order and enjoy reliable and cost-efficient comfort for you and your family all season long.