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Another Furnace Safety Tip: Check the Color of the Pilot Light

Last week we offered up a number of important tips that will help you keep your heating system working safely through the winter months. Today, we are going to focus on the natural gas furnace in particular. Gas furnaces are the most common type of home heater found in the country, and although they are not inherently dangerous as sometimes described, they do require some special maintenance care to work at their safest.

Gas furnaces are changing over to using electronic ignition systems to light their burners, but standing pilot lights are still found in many older models. If your furnace uses a standing pilot light, you should check on it once or twice a month to see that it is burning steadily… and that the flame is bright blue.

Why the color of the flame is important

Why should the flame of the pilot light be blue? Blue is the color that methane burns, and methane is the primary chemical compound found in natural gas. A blue flame indicates that the burners are receiving a steady stream of undiluted natural gas with no other condensates. The flame may have some flecks of red and yellow at the tips, which is perfectly normal.

If condensates or extra oxygen enters the gas flow to the flame—such as dust, dirt, oil, and rust—the flame will change color. If you notice that the flame is red, orange, yellow, or green, there is something wrong with the furnace. Do not try to diagnose it yourself. Shut off the gas to prevent carbon monoxide escaping and turn off the furnace. Then call for a heating repair professional to look into what is wrong with the furnace and fix it before your start using the heating system again.

Malek Heating & Cooling offers high quality heating repairs in Skokie, IL and the surrounding areas.

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