Turn off pilot for gas boiler during the summer?

Old 06-19-11, 10:22 AM
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Turn off pilot for gas boiler during the summer?

I shouldn't need my heater again until like october in Minnesota.

Just moved in and learning about this thing. can I shut off the pilot for the next 5 months or so?

I imagine this may just lead to me having to light it next year? I'm not too worried about that.

It's old as heck and will probably be replaced in the next couple years for something more efficient.

Old 06-19-11, 12:31 PM
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Two completely schools of thought on this issue. Some professionals like to leave the pilot burning continuously with the thought that it will keep the furnace (combustion area in a boiler) warmer and thereby drier during the summer months if the boiler is located in a basement with higher humidity.

My thoughts are that for every molecule of natural gas that is burnt two molecules of water are formed. This water vapor will condense in the farther reaches of the combustion gas passes of the boiler where it can start or acerbate the corrosion problem. I feel that the humidity of the basement is a fairly minor problem as long as there is a decent airflow through the combustion passages to the chimney.

What I AM passionate about is that your boiler should be serviced at the END of the heating season so that it is clean during the summer standby period. A dirty boiler standing idle is subject to far more corrosion than is a clean boiler, regardless of whether or not the pilot is burning or extinguished. You will likely get a better job of servicing all of the boiler if it is done in the summer because most people wait until fall and the service companies are far busier in the fall.
Old 06-19-11, 02:30 PM
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Another consideration would be the 'thermocouple'... that's the doo-hickey that sticks into the pilot flame and gets hot... when it gets hot it tells the gas valve that there is a pilot flame proven... only when a pilot flame is proven will the gas valve open... safety feature.

There was some discussion a while back about the effects that turning off the pilot has on that part... as I recall, most of the guys decided that the thermocouple is more likely to fail if it's heated/cooled/heated/cooled, etc, but there is no real data to prove this. Just a possibility...

The thermocouple is a cheap part and on [most] older boilers takes about 10 minutes to change. The few bucks you save by shutting the pilot off would probably pay for the part, but it might not fail anyway.

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