How to Replace an Air to Air Heat Exchanger How to Replace an Air to Air Heat Exchanger
An air to air heat exchanger can be used to help increase the efficiency of your home. It's commonly used on clothes dryer to dry clothing more quickly by recycling the exhaust air back in to the dryer, reducing the amount of heat needed to warm it up. They can also be used along with home heating systems to transfer heat back in the home that is being exhausted anyhow. The systems can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to install, but the money savings you will see in decreased utility bills can pay for this in just a few years. If you have an air to air heat exchanger that isn't working, here is how you can replace it.
Step 1 - Inspect the Location
If you have your current heat exchanger set up in an area that won't allow for maximum efficiency, you may want to consider relocating it. Basements are great for these types of heat exchangers. If you will have to run all new ductwork throughout to relocate, it's probably not the best idea to try to move it.
Step 2 - Start Disassembling
Air to air heat exchanger units can be heavy, so you want a friend for this step. Check the vent hoods and determine if you need to replace those. In most cases it's just as easy to replace these while you are working on the unit anyhow, so it's a good idea to upgrade. Remove the hood and place aside if you are reusing it. If your heat exchanger is bolted in place then it's as simple as removing the bolts to move the unit. In some homes however the heat exchangers are installed on cement weights, and you may have to work away at the cement to move the unit. Remove all the connecting ductwork as well, and inspect this to determine if any of it needs to be replaced.
Step 3 - Check All Openings
Once you remove the unit you will be able to see the holes that were cut to install the original unit. Check around these openings to make sure they are still in good shape. You may need to run new flexible ductwork, so inspect the openings for this as well. You may need to reinforce some of these if they are in bad shape.
Step 4 - Replace Ductwork
Go ahead and replace any brittle or old ductwork with new ductwork. This is inexpensive and can be a lot of the cause of problems.
Step 5 - Place the Hood
If you are reusing the old hood you can reinstall this now. For a new hood you may need to make some extra cuts if the fit isn't perfect.
Step 6 - Replace Exchanger
Place the new exchanger back in place. If you are using the existing platform, test for security. Don't hook the exchanger up just yet.
Step 7 - Place Drain Tube
The new air to air exchanger should have it's own condensation tube. This should run from the unit to a floor drain in the area. Place this and ensure the connections are secure.
Step 8 - Test it Out
You can now plug the new exchanger in and test it out.