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How often to service oil boiler?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by jslinger, May 14, 2013.

  1. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Anyone who is using oil solely to heat their hot water should take pause & fully evaluate their situation. Factor in all the maintenance costs, fuel costs, liability potentials (oil leaks are very bad things), tank upkeep & replacements, space requirements, insurance issues, etc. etc., and you may be farther ahead getting rid of it all together & replacing with an electric water tank for DHW, & a few electric baseboards for backup heat if needed.

    That said & back to the topic, my old oil/wood combo unit that had a Riello burner was only serviced twice in the 17 years it was in use. It was always kept hot, burned regularly (way too regularly) making DHW in the off-heating season, but 'only' went through a couple hundred gallons a year (90% of that for off-heating DHW). Had no issues with burner performance - that Riello worked like a top. It is now a memory though and I am off the oil.
    Lousyweather likes this.

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  2. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    true, but some of us already have the oil equipment in place prior to our pellets, and in certain areas, pellet, wood, or coal heat is not acceptable as your primary source of heat as per the building department, banks, and insurance companies (sadly)........most of us have electric available, but not all of use have natural gas either
    mepellet likes this.
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I also had all the oil things in place.

    I chose to get rid of all of it & replace with electric DHW tank, and electric boiler for backup heat, and along with doing that got rid of all associated oil related liability potential, freed up quite a bit of basement space, and substantially reduced my monthly DHW operating costs.

    I also had other things to think about, like my insurance company coming after me in a couple of years for mandatory oil tank replacement.

    Everyones situation is a bit different, and that is likely not everyones solution - but everyone should at least evaluate & consider it. It was hard to break the oil habit & take that plunge, but am very glad that I did.
  4. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Are you referring to a boilermate? This might be the ticket for me if so..

    Ray
  5. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    My oil company who cleans my boiler said the same thing to me.
  6. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Not necessarily so. My boiler cycles every couple hours to maintain boiler water temp. Not every half hour.
  7. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Mine is a hot start and does not cycle every half hour.
    raybonz likes this.
  8. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    What is your aquastat set at?
  9. moey

    moey Minister of Fire

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    If your boiler is running every 30 minutes you need to do some investigation your wasting some serious coin.
  10. simple.serf

    simple.serf Feeling the Heat

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    I understand if you are running a business or something, but to work on your own equipment?
  11. iceguy4

    iceguy4 Minister of Fire

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    cleaning and servicing your oil burner without analyzing the combustion can easily cost more $$$ then having a pro do it....Too much CO ...possibility of insulating soot on heat exchanger...to lil and your sending heat up chimney...Impossible to properly adjust oil burner without instruments. I purchased an old school (non electronic) Bacharach Combustion set up kit. (chemical CO tester, exhaust temp thermometer, Draft gauge, SOOT TESTER,...ect
    My oil burner is 86.5 % .... Definitely needed to be cleaned when it was my primary...once a season
    Now it has only run 60 hours and I'll clean it this fall...expect to re-use the nozzle (more then likely it will be ok) and set it up (adjust for max % efficacy )
  12. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    If your oil burner is set up & tuned in right by a tech on initial setup, and you maintain after that by keeping everything clean & maybe replace the nozzle with a new one of the same size every couple of years, how would it get out of whack so that it would need re-tuned? Air & fuel gets mixed, and as long as everything is kept clean & the nozzle stays the same - wouldn't the mix stay the same (more or less?).
  13. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    never said it did......they go off boiler temp, not time
  14. iceguy4

    iceguy4 Minister of Fire

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    IMHO no If you miss by say 4% (easy to do with no tools) ...burn 800 gallons @ 4.00/gallon is $128.00...And that doesn't take into account that the problem will get worse due to soot


    ...quick story...air= 21% Oxygen (needed for combustion)...79% nitrogen (completely useless BUT must be heated and sent up chimney) OBJECT... to allow just enough air for complete combustion BUT NO MORE...too much air will send the heat up the chimney... this is a tricky balancing act that requires proper tools....Cut air to proper levels and check with a soot test(special tool that measures soot in exhaust)

    I kinda snicker when I read "my oil company does my services for free" Its like having the wolf guard the chicken coupe!! Just saying
    raybonz likes this.
  15. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    You got it!
  16. DBCOOPER

    DBCOOPER Feeling the Heat

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    If you have never done one I wouldn't recommend trying without some training. Setting up the electrodes after a nozzle change requires a little experience and some special tools.
    iceguy4 likes this.
  17. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I serviced one of ours just last week, that heats an out building. Didn't touch the electrodes as it was starting good. The nozzle was dirty though. Gave the eye a cleaning while I was in there too, and changed the oil filter.

    They are pretty easy to service - but getting the mixture right would require an analyzer & know how. I guess my point was, if it was set right to start with, and you keep it clean & the nozzle in good or new shape, then neither the air or fuel flow shouldn't change all that much to require regular re-tuning. Kind of like jetting a carb - once you get it right you usually don't have to mess with it. Unless you're tuning for changing weather or altitude, which you wouldn't do for an oil burner.
  18. DBCOOPER

    DBCOOPER Feeling the Heat

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    I guess it depends on the boiler. I've done a bunch where there is no way to get the nozzle out without removing the electrodes. Plus the electrodes need to be serviced too.
    When you go to the doctor they always check your blood pressure and temperature. Same thing with the analyser. It would detect a blocked heat exchanger, flue or chimney but whats a little CO among internet friends.
    iceguy4 likes this.
  19. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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  20. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    air inlets get clogged with dust/crap, messing with your air/fuel mixture, electrodes need gapped, nozzle needs changed (and all nozzles ARE NOT THE SAME!), heat exchanged needs cleaned, burn chamber should be checked for integrity, etc.....so, it will need retuning.....I still stand by the once a year cleaning by a competent technician.....frankly, amazes me that folks in the forum who go to the lengths of sifting their pellets, putting graphite in their pellet bin, worrying about the fines in their pellet bags would simply shrug off a cleaning of another appliance who's fuel is even more expensive than pellets....baffling.
    iceguy4 likes this.
  21. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    It would be very foolish to think about getting rid of any central heat system soley because you burn pellets..

    I don't think I said get rid of your central heating system solely because you burn pellets.

    The whole heating system should be fully evaluated when a major change such as switching the primary heat source is made. Such evaluation may lead no doing nothing else. That's OK - at least it was evaluated. But not thinking about making other changes taking into conderation the change in primary heat source would be the foolish part. In my case, since I was upgrading to a gassifying wood boiler, I replaced my oil (combo wood) boiler that heated DHW with a tankless coil, with an electric hot water tank for DHW (that can also be heated by the wood boiler) & a very cheap electric boiler, that takes up negligible space, for backup heat source. Getting rid of everything oil related was like getting off a leash. Cheaper & easier to operate & maintain, and losing oil-related liabilities is something not very many people seriously consider. Lots of horror stories out there about oil leaks, and insurance companies up here at least are taking an increasingly dimmer view of oil heating & its associated components. My parents insurance company is forcing them to replace their oil tank, kept in a very secure heated basement space, again, after doing the same thing only 6 years ago.

    What to do or not to do would depend on the existing situation - but, say, if my new pellet appliance was leaving my old oil boiler inactive save for summer DWH heating, I would be very hard pressed to not replace the oil boiler with an electric DHW heater & electric boiler for backup heat. Throw in other potentials like heat pump water heaters and mini-splits, even solar items, and it's a big world of alternative possibilities out there.
  22. iceguy4

    iceguy4 Minister of Fire

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    X2

    Just because it works when your done doesn't mean you did it right

    DB...you are 100% right in this thread;) BUT I feel compelled to respond to this... whats a little CO among internet friends....EVERYTHING!!! as you know...run the CO as high as you can get it...do a soot test....back down CO till you have zero soot (on a newer burner) and your done...tools AND KNOW-HOW required

    special note: I'd bet everyone here is quite "handy".. That said.. Working on an oil burner is a profession In-and-of-itself. Have read a book (one...kinda boring) on oil burners, and have had the opportunity to work with a professional for a time and actually helped him tune my boiler up 2X.I learned first hand how to use the equipment, and have since purchased said equipment off E-bay for around $400..new if memory serves me well. The Knowledge of the nuances of oil burners is very high. If you aren't in the position where you can observe YOUR burner being "set up" PLUS have proper tools...leave it for a professional!!!:mad:
    moey likes this.
  23. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Best thing to do with an oil burner is retire it. Iv been swapping out oil since 2002 in my rentals and rehab properties. Aside from the cost of fuel which may be the highest in the heating field they are a maintenance nightmare. Both new and old alike having
    various problem like bad fuel right off the oil truck containing water or dirt,outside tanks freezing at the worst possible time in winter. I use double mico filters on every oil system im forced to keep because of lack of alternatives. Id swap them all out for nat.gas if i could. For my own home i burn solid fuel only.
  24. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Agreed with everything you said - regarding setting up and tuning.

    I was here when mine was professionally tuned/setup when commissioned, and I was here the other two times after that when it was professionally serviced. Helped the tech by holding a light for him in the right place a couple times. The servicing amounted to cleaning the whole thing, replacing the nozzle, and checking electrode gap. He checked the burn & combustion with the analyzer but had to make no changes - it was still in tune. The electrodes were still good. So that's kind of my point - if you can keep it all clean and a new nozzle in it yourself, it shouldn't need tuned on a regular basis. If one can't comfortably do that themselves, or an issue arises with soot buildup or something else like that - then sure, get a tech in. But I'd guess 90% of the time a burner goes 'out of tune', it will be brought back into tune with a decent cleaning & a new or cleaned nozzle and no air or pressure adjustments will be needed.

    As to the OP again, if one is not comfortable working on oil burners and wants the peace of mind of having it professionally serviced (very understandable), I'd feel very safe having it done every two years.
  25. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I do once per year, and the company who does the service (also my oil co.) warranties the boiler for that year. Anything fails, and they repair at their cost. I think the cost is $145 for the year, and they're on-call 24/7. Good peace of mind for me, when I'm traveling and wife is home with the kids.
    iceguy4 and raybonz like this.

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