Hot water heat in home is produced from a boiler, and this type of heat is one of the most even and warmest types you can have. If you have a boiler and are experiencing problems with it turning on, there could be a number of different things wrong with it. In many cases, though, the problem lies in a small part known as a thermocouple. Here are several important things to know about the thermocouple in your boiler.
The Costs of Replacing a Thermocouple
Before you understand what a thermocouple is and the purpose it serves, you might be glad to find out that this is one of the cheapest parts of a boiler to replace. In fact, if you are able to replace it yourself, you could buy one from a hardware store for about $10 and this is all it would cost to replace it.
If you hire a company to replace it for you, which is what most people do, it may cost between $80 to $250. In most cases, replacing a thermocouple is very easy and quick, and it is usually one of the cheapest types of repairs you might need for your boiler.
The Purpose of a Thermocouple
While your furnace has many parts, the thermocouple is one of the most important ones in the device. A thermocouple is often referred to as a safety device, because its purpose is to detect that the boiler has a flame before releasing gas for the boiler to use to create heat.
When you turn your boiler on, it will only produce heat if the gas valve opens and allows the furnace to use the gas to make heat. For this to happen, your boiler must have a flame, which is called a pilot light. When the boiler is told to kick on, the thermocouple senses whether the pilot light is on or not, and it senses through the heat emitted from the flame. If the pilot light is not on, it will not allow the gas valve to open. If the pilot light is on, it will allow the gas valve to open.
Almost all gas-powered home devices have a thermocouple, including a gas hot water heater. Without this device, you could end up with a gas leak in your home, and this could be deadly.
Ways to Tell If the Thermocouple Is Faulty
If you are not sure why your boiler is not turning on, you should call a heating company. They will inspect your boiler and will narrow down the problem. One of the first things they might look at is the thermocouple. This is an easy thing to fix, and it is often the culprit causing a boiler not to turn on.
The first thing the technician may look at is the pilot light. If the pilot is not lit, it can indicate a problem with the thermocouple. Typically, the pilot light on a boiler will go out if the thermocouple is bad. If the light is not lit, the technician will attempt to light it. If he or she has problems keeping it lit, it can indicate a faulty thermocouple.
Next, the technician will test the gas control level on the device to see what happens when the pilot is lit and the gas is turned to on. If this causes the pilot light to go out, it is the thermocouple that is causing the problems. At this point, the technician will most likely replace this part, relight the pilot, and test the furnace again. If it was a faulty thermocouple preventing the furnace from operating, this will fix the problem.
Living without heat in the dead of winter can be very uncomfortable. If you need furnace repairs, contact a company that offers heating services in your area. Check out sites like http://www.smedleyservice.com to get started.