Several years now, the thermocouple on the boiler has
crapped out on only the COLDEST day (thus far) of the year.
Again this year too -- this morning, pilot was out,
and it wouldn't relight. And temp outside was 17(F)!
(Window in boiler-room is open a few inches, due to
air-flow problem -- we have a fan in the pipe that goes
up the chimney.)
Now, in the past, replacing the thermocouple (plumber did the work)
would fix it.
Question: just wondering -- any substance to this
apparent correlation between
super-cold temperature and crap-out of thermouple?
question: would placing electric heater near the boiler
Wonderful home-repair book I have shows picture of flame-size
and -color, vs hitting thermocouple, and says to adjust
the pilot flame-size by twisting (via screwdriver) a screwhead
on the safety-thermostat body:
1: Yes, mine (honeywell) has a large screw-head available
for turning (via screwdriver), but absolutely no label
on it. How to be sure that's what it is?
2: No visible model-number on body of that safety-thermostat
plus off-pilot-ON twist knob. So can't get on net and
look for explanatory picture...
3: Worst of all, boiler-bottom is maybe three inches from floor,
and pilot-flame is higher than that, under boiler, and
thus CANNOT SEE THE DAMN THING!
I tried morror on extending-pole-thing, useless for my ability
at manipulating maglight and mirror!
(Is gas-fire/explosion likelyhood-dangerous putting
light-bulb down beneath, on floor?)
4: Plus, am 6'2" with hands to match. Tight fit.
ANY SUGGESTIONS? Especially on how to VIEW the stuff?
Also -- any TOOLS (price no issue, compared to having
plumber come by each year (on COLDEST day)) that facilitate
No, have not yet tried cleaning out connection. (Wife
worried about playing with gas apparatus & "blow up the house!")
Super cold weather will cause your furnace to run more often but that should
not accelerate the death of the thermocouple.
Preheating the combustion air which comes from inside the house or garage
(is it as cold as outside where the furnace is?) will not increase the
lifetime of the thermocouple. It will only cause you to send money up the
If your furnace is located in an area subject to full outside cold air, that
would be atypical and the cold temp may degrade some components due to
extreme thermal expansion and metal fatigue.
Maybe its not the cold, maybe it has something to do with conditions off
season (summer) like condensation that sets the stage for premature failure
when usage is at its peak.
Keep a spare thermocouple on hand and learn how to replace it.
Is it an older model with a full time pilot light or a newer electronic
model that ignites the pilot before igniting the main burner.
Maybe you were just unlucky.
Thanks for the reply!!!
Have THREE spares.
Is "older" (age 7 yrs, vintage 30yrs AFTER man lands on moon!)
without electronic pilot-starter.
Only problem is that due to construction of THIS (model) boiler,
changing the thermocouple is difficult indeed, especially
for big-handed guy.
Any equipment (or mirror-setup) to make it easier to do installation?
1) Coldest day of the year will cause highest draw on main gas lines.
Street pressure will possibly be slightly lower than otherwise. You
may have a marginal pilot flame. The pilot flame adjustment is a
needle valve licated UNDER a cap screw. It is turned counter-clockwise
to increase pilot flame size. The main burner has a different/separate
adjustment. It is turned clockwise to increase pressure. Pilot
adjustment uses a teeny-weeny pocket screwdriver to adjust it. Main
burner uses a bigger screwdriver for adjustment.
2) The air from the open window may be blowing the pilot out if it is
3) Have tech or gas company check to see if your gas pressure is
adequate coming into your house.
4) Have tech use better quality thermocouple. They make good ones and
cheap ones. Try a heavy duty model.
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