Why the Flame of Your Furnace’s Pilot Light Should Be Blue

Heating Nashville, TN

At this time of the year we like to draw attention to safety with home heating systems. As the cold weather arrives in Nashville, TN, furnaces turn on, and homeowners need to pay special attention to any malfunctions in their heaters so they can have them repaired early. This is particularly important when it comes to the most common type of heater, the natural gas furnace, which can pose safety hazards if not repaired promptly.

To help keep your home’s gas furnace working safely, make sure you check on it occasionally to see if it’s making any odd noises and then change out or clean the air filter. Also check to see that the pilot light (if your furnace uses one and not an electronic ignition system) is burning steadily. You should also make sure that the pilot light is blue.

The importance of the color of the pilot light

The reason that a pilot light burns blue under normal conditions is that it’s burning a chemical compound called methane. Methane is the main compound that makes up natural gas. The blue flame coming from the pilot light means that it is burning at its most energy efficient.

But what is happening when you notice that the pilot light has turned red, yellow, or green? A few flecks of red at the tip of the flame is fine, but when the color spreads there is an issue—and it’s greater than a waste of energy. A yellow pilot light indicates that the air-to-gas mix reaching the burners is unbalance and there is excess oxygen. A yellow pilot light will also produce toxic carbon monoxide.

Other flame colors mean that another condensate is burning along with the methane: dust, grime, rust, oil. Burning these condensates will produce harmful chemicals.

Don’t attempt to fix a discolored pilot light on your own! Gas furnace repairs should be left to licensed professionals only. Shut off the gas to the furnace and give our heating repair technicians a call in Nashville, TN.

Mid-State Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing serves Nashville and all of Middle Tennessee.

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