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Can Anyone Suggest Any Links for DIY Oil Burner/Boiler Maintenance?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by velvetfoot, Aug 14, 2008.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    It didn't look too complex last year when the oil guy did it.
    Thanks.

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  2. Jack33

    Jack33 New Member

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  3. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    LOL, thanks very much. The key was my response: "Maybe next time (next fall). "

    Maybe this year I will actually do it!!

    Thanks again.
  4. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    I was in this same predicament a few years ago, and the wife found a 1950s book on oil burners in a free pile at the side of the road! It is a fantastic reference, as technical books of that vintage tend to be very well written and illustrated. I since picked up an Audel's Oil Burner Guide, which is not quite so good.
    So I'd phone used bookstores in your area and ask if they have anything like this. Printed books are much better than the computer for information like this, and older ones even better since they will give more repair information than the newer books which are geared more towards replacement of parts.

    Oil burners have not changed a lot in 50 years, at least the mechanical parts.

    You can also check your local library.
  5. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    Then he didnt do it.
    Most do it your selfers I dont think have an anylizer or the proper pressure guage to monitor fuel pump pressure.
    Maybe retention head and electrode adjustments can be done without the fancy tools but all becomes part and parcel.
    I only work on big boilers commercial/industrial. Even on a home furnace you would be amazed at how efficiencies can change.
    @ $5 a gallon its worth having a qualified person go through it. Not someone just going through the motions as it looks
    like your oil guy did.
    My experience and 2 cents.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Seems like most adjustment is for air. The guy last year had a digital gas analyzer and knew more than the first guy, but those older kits still maintain their value on ebay so they can't be that bad. I still fancy trying an outside kit sold for the burner.
  7. u8at711

    u8at711 New Member

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    hire a professional.

    most people are home on nights and weekends. thats when you findout that your heating system went down.
    that will make for a costly service call

    Note:
    A too rich setting on the burner can cause soot and ineffient running. and possible cause a fire.
    A too lean setting can make for very dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide.

    ask for the experienced oil tech, and call someone other than the oil company.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I've had one of these for the last couple of year (ebay) but haven't used it yet, :)
    http://www.imrusa.com/english/1400-com.htm

    I like to do my own work on the car if possible, and this doesn't seem past the point of my understanding.
    The only thing is to find time to learn it, what with all the wood stacking, splitting, etc. :)

    The first guy the oil company sent kept trying to unscrew the oil filter in a clockwise direction!
  9. itworks

    itworks New Member

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    Oil is currently the most expensive way to heat your home, consider converting (if possible) to nat gas, wood. wood pellets, or lots of heavy clothing.
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Hey, I can't even get cable TV here, and you want me to heat with nat gas? :)
    My wood insert won't realistically heat the whole house - I wish it did.
    I figure it cut my oil use in half last year.
  11. itworks

    itworks New Member

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    So sorry I thought you were located somewhere on Long Island. I guess it has to be hard to be a Met's fan in your local. Ok nat gas is out, I still would consider an alternative to oil, and the Mets's bull-pen.
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    7-3 over the Braves tonight. Perez let in the three, bullpen none, but Braves aren't having a good year. Always good when the Mets beat those perenial Met killers though. Phillies won too, so still 1.5 games in first place. Wagner going down with the elbow is a big loss that will be hard to recover from.
  13. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    That gas analyzer looks like the real cat's meow. I would think it's pretty straightforward to use, it looks pretty user friendly. I picked up an old wet chemical tester some years ago and also have not used it yet! Although even the 1950s books emphasize the importance of using test equipment over judging the flame by eye.
    Another thing I do is to check nozzles by reorienting the plumbing to have the nozzle point out, then cover it with a jar and run the pump (I disable the ignition first). If there isn't a nice even spray then the nozzle comes apart for cleaning. It seems low tech but this is basically the principle we used (with a much fancier jar of course) about ten years ago when I spent time in a diesel injector test facility.

    "A too lean setting can make for very dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide." I don't understand this, since in lean (excess oxygen) conditions CO will tend to oxidize to CO2, no? Also, unless something's very wrong, the exhaust from the furnace goes out the chimney, not into the house.
  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    That's rich, so to speak. :) I read the manual after I got mine and apparently there's a shelf life on some sensors! In retrospect, as I recall, (since it was so long ago :) ), I would've preferred the timeless wet tester, which holds its value quite well. I was drawn by the digital siren.

    That seems like a good idea with the injector spray pattern. Running with excess air on my VW TDI wasn't bad, as I recall, just emitted more NOx. Now, if I could attach that turbo to the oil burner I'd be all set. :)
  15. u8at711

    u8at711 New Member

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    maybe my test equipment is faulty, Testo 330-1

    for some reason too lean makes CO. I'm not a chemist. just informing from experience.
  16. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the info. I'm not a pro, just a diy'er.
    Do you have any opinion on an outside air kit for a Burnham boiler? Burnham makes one, not that expensive, I just don't know if it'd be worth while.
    I realize the air shutter would have to be adjusted for afterwards.
    Thanks.
  17. u8at711

    u8at711 New Member

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    I only use Field Controls direct venting kits.

    yes they are expensive but they are quality.

    If the manufacturer recommends their device, use that.
  18. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I think it might be around $150 or so.
    Here is a picture from the Burnham manual.
    They recommend galvanized pipe-I imagine it should be insulated somehow.

    Attached Files:

  19. mtfallsmikey

    mtfallsmikey New Member

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    Just had to throw my .02 in, seeing how I did this for a living for 35 yrs. or so....unless you are willing to buy ALL of the tools (combustion analyzer, oil pressure guage, etc.) you're better off hiring a GOOD pro...not just any hack off of the street. Newer oil burners are touchy, require set up with instruments....I learned to do it by eye, then compare to analyzer to see how close I got.
  20. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. I've heard the advice about hiring a good technician here and from others too. They might be hard to find, just like a car mechanic, and just like them, word of mouth is probably best. What I do have going for me is that my unit doesn't appear too complex. I can imagine how other heaters might be nearing the complexity of car engines, with computer controls as well. Heck, my washer and dryer have error code readouts!
  21. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    Well I have been thinking about the lean condition producing excess CO. Assuming everything reacted completely then there shouldn't be more than a trace of CO, but if the combustion were very lean, then it might be incomplete, like a car engine misfiring, so producing lots of unburnt and partially burnt reaction products. Or then again the test unit might be confused by other gases into assuming there was more CO than really was there (because it would err on the side of safety i.e. false positives for CO)?
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