A very long time ago, furnaces used outdated technology that made them a somewhat scary addition to a home. While whole-home heating was once considered a luxury, it came along with another price: the risk of fire and health concerns over gas leaks. This is because there were no safety devices in place to shut the gas valve should the pilot light suddenly stop burning, which could sometimes lead to potentially hazardous effects.
Luckily, this technology was improved, and standing pilot furnaces manufactured in recent decades contain a safety mechanism that prevents this from happening, the thermocouple. If your home has a standing gas pilot furnace, it’s likely that it also contains a thermocouple, a small safety device that simply detects whether or not there is a flame. If there is not, it sends a signal out to shut off the gas valve.
Even though the safety of standing pilots is now much more secure, standing gas pilots are largely inefficient. The pilot light has to remain on throughout the day, burning gas even though you’ll only need it whenever the furnace must cycle on to raise the temperature in the house. That’s part of the reason for the development of new ignition systems, which also include several additional safety features.
Intermittent pilot ignition system furnaces and hot surface ignition system furnaces, two of the most common modern ignition systems, only use the gas when it is needed for the heating cycle. A flame sensor continues to monitor the presence of a flame and shut off the gas in its absence. But it also contains a limit switch which keeps the furnace plenum chamber from overheating. If this switch senses that the temperature in the chamber is too high, it also stops the flow of gas. One of the other key safety switches is the air pressure switch, which turns off the gas when there is not enough air pressure in the flue pipe to properly vent combustion gases.
While today’s gas furnaces are now seen as very safe, efficient, and effective, this may not be true if you don’t choose an experienced professional for installation. Amateurs may not know the safest modes and tools to use to install a modern furnace and ventilation system. Call Cool Air Mechanical to make sure your heating installation in Atlanta, GA goes as smoothly as possible and that your system runs safely throughout its lifespan.