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Disposal of Flame Sensors and Temperature Probes that Contain Mercury

Mercury-containing flame sensors and temperature probes may be found in gas-fired appliances. A flame sensor or temperature probe consists of a metal bulb and thin tube attached to a gas-control valve. The mercury is contained inside the tube and expands or contracts to open and shut the valve. Mercury is contained in the probe and capillary tube on the device. Do not attempt to remove the capillary tube from the device or even the device from the appliance to avoid the release of mercury. These devices should not be disposed of in the regular trash.

The information below will:

  • Help you identify appliances which may contain mercury flame sensors or temperature probes,
  • Identify mercury-free alternatives if available, and
  • Provide information on proper disposal of mercury flame sensors, temperature probes and appliances containing such devices.

Identifying Mercury-Containing Flame Sensors and Temperature Probes

Several types of gas-fired appliances that have pilot lights may have mercury-containing flame sensors or temperature probes including:

  • clothes dryers
  • furnaces
  • ovens
  • ranges
  • space heaters
  • water heaters

Some non-mercury flame sensors have been used in these appliances, but you should treat all sensors as if they contain mercury, unless you are certain they don’t.


Newer model appliances use an electronic igniter or electronic flame sensor. If there is no available electricity to the appliance such as in recreational vehicles and residences without electricity, there may be no non-mercury alternative at this time.

Disposal Information


  • Bring useable or repairable appliances to a company that can refurbish them and sell them at reduced rates to needy families.
  • Bring unusable appliances to a local solid waste collection center in your area.

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