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What is a Thermocouple?

You may have heard the term “thermocouple” used when someone was looking at your furnace. The thermocouple plays a vital part in heating your home, and when it breaks, it’s important to get it fixed as quickly as possible.  To put it simply, the thermocouple is a safety device that prevents gas from building up in your furnace when the pilot light is out. But how does it work?

You can usually find the thermocouple near the pilot light, and in some furnaces, they’re actually part of the same component. It detects the heat from the pilot light and releases gas which the pilot light then ignites. That heats the burners in the furnace and allows the air to be warmed. Because it regulates the flow of gas, the thermocouple is perhaps the most important component in your entire furnace. If the pilot light isn’t lit, there’s a chance that gas will leak into your home, creating a serious hazard. The thermocouple is intended to prevent that from happening. If the pilot light is out, it shuts off the gas, leaving your home safe until repairs can be made.

When the thermocouple doesn’t work, it usually means that your furnace simply won’t turn on. In some cases, it can be repaired though most of the time, replacing a broken thermocouple is the safest course of action. Sometimes, the problem stems from the pilot light or some other component; the thermocouple is simply doing its job by shutting off the gas, and the other component is the one that needs repair.

Regardless, if the thermocouple isn’t doing its job, your furnace is more or less out of action. In times like these, call on Raleigh Heating & Air for help. We understand the ins and outs of furnace repair and have handled all manner of Wake Forest furnace issues.

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