Annual Oil Burner Cleaning

Protech HVAC Forums All Things Heating Annual Oil Burner Cleaning

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    John Rocheleau

    Oil burners, whether coupled with a furnace, or a boiler, or water heater need to be cleaned every year for one simple reason: oil (#2 Fuel) is dirty and contaminates fuel filters, lines, pump strainers and nozzles. Kerosene, on the other hand, is more refined, therefore, is cleaner and can go longer than a #2 fuel system before it must be cleaned.

    What does “cleaning” mean, exactly? When Kerosene, or #2 Fuel is burned, combustion byproducts collect on the inside of a boiler, water heater, and furnace, which requires removal with a special cleaning brush and a “soot vacuum.” Also, fuel filters, strainers and nozzles become dirty from inherent sludge that is transported with the oil, and these components need to be replaced before they plug up and restrict the flow of fuel.

    An oil burner cleaning also involves removing carbon, baked-on fuel and common dust from burner components, like, nozzle assembly and electrodes, burner fan, ignition transformer, cadmium sulfide cell, fuel pump, burner housing, motor and drive coupling.

    Still, other components like the smoke-pipe need to be cleaned inside and out, and the chimney thimble needs to be cleaned of soot and sulfur; the boiler, or furnace jacket is cleaned and the immediate area surrounding the equipment is tidied up.

    Things like circulator motors and bearing assemblies are oil, as are burner and blower motors – this is less common on modern motors, which are permanently lubricated (have lube-free bearings).

    Safety devices like, Low Water Cut-offs (steam boilers); primary control safety timing and temperature and pressure limit devices are checked for tolerance accuracy.

    Combustion tests are often made – draft; smoke level; CO2 % and temperature – to measure the combustion efficiency percentage (80%-88% is typical with modern oil-burning equipment).

    Finally, the newly cleaned system should be run to verify that all components function properly and there are no water/steam/air leaks that will hinder the efficient and safe operation of the heating system.

    With oil-burning systems, all of these things should be done on an annual basis, and if done properly will prevent emergency breakdowns, lower fuel consumption and prevent hazardous operating conditions.

    Now you know!

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