With cooler weather arriving, people are now turning on their gas furnaces for the season. This is a time of the year when we often receive questions from customers about how their furnaces are supposed to operate. A question that frequently comes up is about the color of the pilot light in a furnace. Usually it burns blue, but sometimes to switches to orange. Why does this happen, and is it something to worry about?
Blue vs. Orange Pilot Lights
The first thing you need to know is that blue is the correct color for a pilot light. The reason that this happens is that methane—the primary chemical compound in natural gas—gives off a blue radiance when it’s ignited. You’ll probably see a touch of yellow near the tip of the flame, and that’s normal.
If the flame should turn another color, such as orange (but also red or green), the likely reason is a combustion problem. What’s occurring is that other condensates aside from methane are burning along with the natural gas. These condensates can include rust, oil, and dust. A dusty burner is one of the main reasons for this orange flame to appear.
This is potentially dangerous, because burning these condensates can release harmful chemicals into the air. If you notice a change in the flame color of the pilot light, turn off the furnace right away and call for professionals to repair it. Don’t attempt to clean off the pilot light yourself.
As a precaution, check on the pilot light once a month during the rest of the season so you can catch troubles early. Remember also to schedule maintenance every fall, which will help prevent build-up of dust and other debris that can lead to this problem.
If you need furnace repair in Yucaipa, CA or the surrounding areas, just call Russell’s Heating & Air. We’ve served the Inland Empire and Desert Communities since 1980, and offer 24-hour emergency service.