If you have needed to light the pilot light for your gas boiler several times recently, you should take a few minutes to troubleshoot the issue. One common cause of an impaired pilot light is often an issue with the thermocouple, which is usually easy to access and see. Therefore, when you are determining whether you need to call in an expert plumber to help you with the impaired pilot light, it is a good idea to be aware of the following information.
#1—Understanding and Planning for the Thermocouple
It is important to note that the thermocouple is a probe that directly accesses the fire produced by the gas of your boiler. However, some boilers do not feature a thermocouple and instead depend on an electronic or spark ignition to manage the flame. It is crucial for you to remember that if your unit lacks a thermocouple, attempting to provide a flame to the electronic or spark ignition is both unnecessary and dangerous.
Before examining the boiler or the thermocouple, you must disconnect the energy sources to the unit to prevent injury or damage. As mentioned later, if you suspect that buildup is causing or contributing to the problems with your pilot light, and you will attempt removing that waste, verify that the energy sources to the unit are still off before starting any work. In addition, wear latex gloves and designate clean, dry areas where you can place the different components of the unit.
#2—Making the Thermocouple As Safe As Possible
It will first be necessary to refer to your owner's manual to determine what the method of ignition is for your boiler. If you suspect that the thermocouple is the issue and have only basic knowledge of your boiler, it is often best to consider having a professional such as Allcounty Plumbing & Heating Corp to perform the necessary repair. That is due to the fact that a single error could be lethal, as leaky and uncontrolled gas has been known to cause explosions.
Fortunately, you may find that the thermocouple is not working as it should due to a buildup of its previous use. In that instance, you can clean the area to see if that restores the functionality of the thermocouple and by extension, the boiler itself, as mentioned above.
#3—Cleaning the Area Around the Thermocouple for Better Results
If you have decided to clean the area to the thermocouple, you will need to find the pilot assembly. It is commonly attached to a burner and can be accessed by taking off the upper access panel. Trace the copper tube all of the way up to the gas valve, where you should be able to separate the main gas valve from the thermocouple and do the same for the pilot gas tubing where it connects to the gas valve. That tubing is easy to spot because it is made of aluminum and connects the gas valve to the pilot assembly.
You will now see two screws that allow the mounting bracket to link to the burner. Remove those screws and carefully lift the whole assembly away. While you can switch the old thermocouple out for a new one at this time, you can also just remove the gas tube on the bottom of the assembly and look for an item with a series of holes in it. You can gently wipe the end of the tube to remove any clogs that might be impacting the usability of the thermocouple and boiler. Reassemble everything and see whether your work addressed the problem.
In conclusion, the pilot light on your gas boiler is very important, and without it, your boiler is essentially useless. It's common for a damaged or malfunctioning thermocouple to cause the pilot light to not light or blow out frequently. As a result, it will be very helpful to consider the facts listed above when troubleshooting issues with your gas pilot light.