Table of Contents for this Page
- Furnace Heat Exchanger Replacement Cost
- Cost Range for Furnace Heat Exchanger Replacement
- Average Installed Cost
- Overview of Furnace Heat Exchangers
- Furnace Heat Exchanger Replacement Cost Factors
- Installation and Supplies Cost Details
- Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time
- Related Projects
- DIY or Hire a Pro for this Project?
- Comparison Costs from Leading Resources
- Common Questions and Answers about Replacing a Furnace Heat Exchanger
Furnace Heat Exchanger Replacement Cost Range
You can expect to pay around $815 for replacement when in warranty, and around $1,950 when the furnace is out of warranty. Keep in mind a warranty only covers the cost of parts and not the labor to install a heat exchanger.
Note: There is no way to repair a cracked heat exchanger in your furnace. It must be replaced, or the entire furnace needs to be replaced. If the furnace is more than 8 years old or the replacement is no longer in warranty, it’s best to get furnace replacement quotes at the same time.
In most cases an HVAC contractor will remove the old heat exchanger and replace with new parts. They’ll restart the furnace to assure it’s working properly, then cleanup the work area and dispose of all old parts or return to the manufacturer if required by the warranty.
Overview of a Furnace Heat Exchanger
The most common type of heat exchanger is a series of hollow, ribbon-like tubes that combustion gases pass through on their way out of the furnace through the flue vent. It transfers heat into air being circulated past the heat exchanger and into your home’s ductwork. High-efficiency furnaces, also called condensing furnaces, have primary and secondary heat exchangers to make more complete use of the heat produced.
A damaged, leaking, or cracked heat exchanger unit can allow dangerous carbon monoxide to leak gasses into the airflow, and thus spreading the odorless CO gas into your home along with the warm air. The dangers of a cracked heat exchanger are serious and it’s important to assure you perform proper annual furnace maintenance every year, so these dangers can be caught before they put you or your family in harms way.
Heat exchangers are at the very core of a gas furnace. To replace it requires disassembling much of the furnace, replacing the part, and reassembling the furnace. This is a much more lengthy process than replacing a blower motor of a furnace ignitor, so labor charges make up most of the replacement cost – all of it when the part is under warranty.
Note: In nearly all cases, if your furnace is more than 10 years old, it makes more sense to have the entire furnace replaced versus attempting to repair this part. Learn more about gas furnace replacement costs.
Heat Exchanger Replacement Cost Factors
There are no cheap or easy ways to repair a cracked or failed heat exchanger, but some are more costly than others. Here are the factors that affect the cost of the replacement part.
- Furnace Size – The size is based on the BTU capacity of the furnace. The larger the furnace, the larger and more expensive the heat exchanger.
- Heat Exchanger Type – Older furnaces with ribbon exchangers are much more affordable than newer high efficiency furnaces with secondary heat exchangers.
- Furnace Design – Some furnace were designed with making repairs easier in mind. This will save several hours on the repair at $70 to $135 per hour for labor costs.
- Furnace Efficiency – High-efficiency furnaces are more complex and more expensive than 80% furnaces.
- Furnace Location – Making the replacement on a furnace that is easy to access is difficult enough. When the furnace is in an attic or crawlspace, very few contractors will agree to replace the heat exchanger. If they do, estimates might exceed the cost of a new furnace.
- Material – Stainless steel units cost more than other steel types.
- Where you Live – The cost of living varies across the country and affects furnace repair too.
Labor isn’t covered in the warranty! Heat exchangers come with great warranties, usually 20 years or lifetime. But the warranty is for just the part. Many homeowners don’t realize that labor charges ARE NOT included in most repairs beyond the first year, even when the part is under warranty.
Furnace replacement warranty? Warranties are getting more competitive. Many brands back their better furnaces with a warranty that provides for complete furnace replacement if a major part like this fails in the stated time period. For most, the warranty is for 3, 5 or 10 years. A few, like Amana, have a lifetime furnace replacement warranty on this integral part of your system. Check your warranty coverage. Even if you have to pay to have the replacement furnace installed, the cost probably won’t exceed the labor cost of heat exchanger replacement.
Repair or replace? When you get repair quotes, you should also ask for estimates for replacing the furnace. Apart from cost alone, you might want to replace the furnace if:
- It is more than 10 years old
- You are having furnace repairs completed every year
- Doesn’t properly heat your home
- You prefer a furnace with higher efficiency and/or better indoor climate control features
Beware of Scams! While most furnace contractors are honest, you might run into one trying an old scam – telling you the heat exchanger is cracked and leaking carbon monoxide into your home, and the entire furnace must be replaced. This scam is usually attempted during routine furnace maintenance or when another repair is being made.
Unless your carbon monoxide detector going off was the reason you called for furnace repair, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion on this issue. Inspectapedia has a great page detailing all the ways that this part can be tested, as well as preventative maintenance tips to assure you get the most from your furnace.
Parts, Supplies and Equipment Costs
- $115 – $950 | Galvanized or aluminized steel heat exchanger.
- $875 – $1,700 | Stainless steel heat exchanger.
- $15 – $30 | Associated fittings and fasteners needed for the project.
Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time
Permits and Inspection Cost
Whether a permit is required varies by location. The benefit of getting a permit is that an inspection will be made to ensure the work is done properly and your furnace is safe to use. The disadvantages are cost and having to wait for the inspection, which means you’ll be without heat longer.
You can call your local building code department to find out. It’s possible a local contractor might tell you a permit is not required when it actually is. The repairman might not want to wait for the inspection, preferring to do the work, get paid and move on.
- $0 – $150 | Permit fees, when required.
Related Costs and Installation Time
Labor costs have been factored into the costs in the table at the top. However, in case you’re wondering, labor rates for certified technicians range from about $70 to more than $125 per hour. If a helper assists the technician, rates are $25 to $50 per hour.
Install Time Schedule
Replacing this part on your furnace is the most time-consuming repair. Spending 8 hours on the project is not unusual.
- 5 to 3 hours | Disassembling the furnace and removing the part
- 1 to 2 hours | Installing the new replacement part
- 2 to 3 hours | Reassembling the furnace and testing it
Is Heat Exchanger Replacement Covered Under Homeowners Insurance or a Home Warranty?
Homeowners Insurance Coverage
We have never seen or heard of a cracked heat exchanger being covered under homeowners insurance policy. In cases where a furnace would be replaced, they would replace the entire unit versus a single part inside.
If you have a home warranty that covers major repairs, this might be covered in full or partially, and it’s worth your time to discuss it with your carrier. Landmark Home Warranty says that as long as you had coverage during the time the crack was located and proper maintenance was taken since your coverage, you will be covered.
A heat exchanger is an integral part of your home furnace system. Listed below are several other home heating and air conditioner related projects that might be of interest.
Are You an HVAC Repair Pro?
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DIY or Hire a Pro?
Replacing a this part on your gas furnace is a complex, difficult job. It requires taking apart the furnace, keeping track of your steps, and then putting it back together in working condition. There’s also a HUGE risk. Doing the job incorrectly may allow carbon monoxide to leak.
For these reasons, we can’t recommend it. In fact, pro replacement probably isn’t a good idea either unless the furnace is less than 10 years old and the part is under warranty. It is usually a better idea to replace the furnace, especially if it is old or you’re not happy with its performance.
Compare Costs from Leading Resources
- Carrier: $500 - $1,500, Heat exchanger replacement cost
- HomeAdvisor: $1,000 - $2,000, Heat exchanger replacement
- HomeGuide: $350 - $3,000, Depending on Warranty
- Four Seasons HVAC of Portland: $1,000 - $3,000, Replacement of Heat Heat Exchanger
Common Questions and Answers
Can a crack in a heat exchanger be repaired?
No. It must be replaced.
How long does a heat exchanger last?
With proper maintenance, a furnace heat exchanger should last 15-25 years, or the life of the gas furnace.