If you have a natural gas furnace in your home, then you want to make sure that the pilot flame inside the heater burns strong. This flame is responsible for lighting the burner when gas is forced into this part of the system. The burner then heats air that is moved through your vents with the help of the blower. Without the pilot light, the rest of the heating system cannot work properly. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make sure that the pilot light does not go out on you and leave you without heat in the middle of winter.
Add A Dehumidifier
Most people have moist basements. In fact, 60% of the homes in the United States have wet basements. While many people worry about the formation of mold and mildew, you should worry about rust when it comes to your furnace. Gas furnaces are created with a wide variety of different metals that include stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and brass. Brass is used for the valves in the furnace, and this includes the pilot valve. Brass will not rust, but it will form corrosion when water and oxygen come into contact with the metal. The green-colored tarnish can build extensively and block the end of the pilot valve.
Rust may form on the stainless steel heat exchanger when the zinc coating wears off the surface of the metal. The rust can fall around the pilot and clog the pilot valve. While it may take several years for corrosion and rust to form in your furnace, it is best to keep them from building in the first place if you want to reduce pilot flame issues. Keeping your basement dry is the best way to do this.
Basement waterproofing and exterior drainage systems are the best way to keep water from entering your basement. You can also invest in a dehumidifier to remove water from the space. You will need to consider both the size and the moisture level of your basement to purchase the best dehumidifier for your home. You will need to look at the capacity of the device in terms of how much water can be removed from the air in one day. Capacity is measured in pints. If you have a relatively small and moderately damp basement, then a 20 pint device will likely work well. A 30 to 40 pint dehumidifier will be best if your basement is large and extremely wet.
You should check for rust on the interior of the furnace at least once a year, even if you do invest in a dehumidifier. Remove debris with a vacuum cleaner if there is a need.
Clean And Tighten The Thermocouple
Your gas furnace will have a safety device called a thermocouple that will turn off the natural gas. It does this when it senses that the pilot light is not lit. The thermocouple sits right next to the pilot light and attaches to a bracket with a nut. Sometimes, the thermocouple will not work properly if it becomes dirty or loose from its fitting. When this happens, the device will not sense a strong flame and the gas will be turned off, even if the pilot light is working correctly. To prevent this sort of issue, make sure the thermocouple is clean and tight.
To clean the thermocouple, first remove the front cover from your furnace. This will allow you to locate the pilot light and the thermocouple sitting next to it. Turn off the gas running to your furnace so the pilot light turns off. Use a wrench to remove the thermocouple nut and pull out the sensor device. You will need to do the cleaning near your furnace, because the thermocouple will be attached to a wire on one end. Inspect the sensor and use a piece of fine grit sandpaper or an emery board to gently remove debris.
Once the thermocouple has been cleaned, replace the device and use your wrench to tighten the bolt as much as you can.
If you still find that your furnace is malfunctioning, reach out to a local contractor, such as Kohl Heating & Air Conditioning, for more help.