Oil burner smoke test equipment, Bachrach Kit (C) Daniel FriedmanOil Burner Carbon Dioxide Test
How to Measure & Set Oil Burner CO2 Levels for Efficient Oil Burner Operation

  • OIL BURNER CO2 TEST - CONTENTS: Guide to oil burner operating tests: Bachrach or Bosch Kit Carbon Dioxide Level measurements for oil burners. How to measure oil burner CO2 level to evaluate system efficiency and operation. How to inspect & repair oil fired central hot water heating boilers or warm air furnaces
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about oil burner performance tests and measurements

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Oil burner carbon dioxide level testing, which in turn reflects combustion air & temperature adjustment is necessary for safe, efficient and reliable oil burner operation: this article explains and illustrates how an oil burner CO2 test is performed - a key step in oil burner adjustment. An oil burner adjustment of combustion air, operating temperature, oil pressure, and other factors such as nozzle spray pattern selection all affect the completeness of combustion which in turn is reflected in the CO2 level measured in flue gas exhaust sampled in the breech. Page top image: the traditional Fyrite CO2 tester from a Bachrach oil burner tuning kit.

This article series answers most questions about central hot water heating system troubleshooting, inspection, diagnosis, and repairs. We describe how to inspect, troubleshoot and repair heating and air conditioning systems to inform home owners, buyers, and home inspectors of common heating system defects.

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Oil Burner CO2 Test - Carbon Dioxide Level Indicates System Efficiency

Oil burner smoke test equipment, Bachrach Kit (C) Daniel FriedmanIf the oil burner is not working, start your diagnosis at OIL BURNER INSPECTION & REPAIR.

[Click to enlarge any image]

The basic measurements made by any competent oil heat service technician include the stack temperature, draft, smoke level, and carbon dioxide level.

Along with OIL BURNER SMOKE TEST, the second common test performed by an oil heat technician evaluates the oil burner efficiency by measuring the carbon dioxide level or CO2 level in the oil burner exhaust.

While there are electronic sensors used by some technicians for this purpose, many oil heat service tech's continue to use the time-tested Bachrach Fyrite™ oil burner tester shown below.

Oil burner smoke test equipment, Bachrach Kit (C) Daniel Friedman Bachrach carbon dioxide test for oil burners (C) Daniel Friedman

Our photos above show the rubber bulb and tubing used to pump oil burner exhaust gases into the CO2 level tester (the bulb and tubing atop the smoke tester, above left), and a closeup of a well-used CO2 tester (above right).

Measurement is made at the same flue vent connector location as we discussed above.

Fyrite combustion analyzer II from Bachrach

Shown at left, a modern approach to measuring CO2 using the Fyrite II from Bachrach.

Watch out: if your heating oil company does not provide working test equipment for the service technician, setting the oil burner adjustments is going to be done by guesswork.

The result is likely to be either higher heating costs over the season for a system that is running too hot, or higher heating service costs for a system that runs too dirty.

In fact when the author (DF) attended oil burner school we were taught to make two openings into the flue so that smoke level and CO2 measurements could be made through one opening while a thermometer or draft gauge monitored those two additional data points at the second opening.

  • The CO2 tester is filled with a red fluid that changes volume in response to carbon dioxide level. The Fyrite test unit is inverted, returned to upright, tilted at 45 degrees, to prepare it for use and to calibrate or set the "zero point" on the CO2 gauge. A cap on the unit is depressed to vent the unit to the atmosphere and the zero point is set on the adjustable gauge.
  • Exhaust gas is pumped into the CO2 tester, the tester is treated with flue gas exhaust for the required number of strokes (18) to purge the tubing and bulb and analyzer (tester).

    Why so many puffs of the rubber bulb? Remember you have to purge ambient air out of the tubing, the bulb, and the test instrument to be sure your sample in the instrument is of flue gas.
  • The analyzer is inverted, then returned to upright, tilted 45 degrees, returned to upright, and the CO2 scale is read.

The Carbon Dioxide vs Oil Burner Efficiency chart below explains how the percent of carbon dioxide in oil burner exhaust gases translates into oil burner efficiency. Bachrach Fyrite instructions and Oil Burner efficiency chart below, source: Audel's Oil Burner Guide.

Audel guide to oil burner efficiency (C) Daniel Friedman - AudelThe chart at left illustrates combustion efficiency, stated as fuel loss at an oil burner, for a given CO2 level at different stack temperatures.

[Click any image or table to see an enlarged, detailed version.]

Watch out: It's easy to make it look as if oil burner has been set for very high efficiency: just stand with your leg blocking the air intake at the oil burner air shutter while making the CO2 measurement.

But that nonsense, while it may make the burner adjustment look "good" is likely to waste fuel during the heating season and may result in smoky sooty operation leading to a loss of heat.

Oil burner smoke test equipment, Bachrach Kit (C) Daniel FriedmanWe want good oil burner efficiency, up to the point of improper operation. The illustrations at left and below, from our Bachrach manual, explain how the Fyrite CO2 analyzer is operated and give a chart useful to read oil burner efficiency levels for different CO2 levels at different operating temperatures.

Oil burner smoke test equipment, Bachrach Kit (C) Daniel Friedman

Combustion Analyzer Recommendtions & Sources of Oil or Gas Burner Combustion Testing Kits include CO2 Measuring Devices

  • Bachrach Inc. provides the Fyrit ® Classic Oil Kit (shown in the case photos above) for testing oil or gas burners, as well as a number of other test instruments such as the Fyright® Insight® Plus (electronic), Fyrite Intech®, the ECA450, and the PCA 3 portable combustion analyzer.

    Website: http://www.bacharach-inc.com/combustion-test-kits.htm, Bacharach Sales/Service Center 621 Hunt Valley Circle New Kensington, PA 15068-7074 Tel: 724-334-5000 Fax: 724-334-5704 E-mail: Help@MyBacharach.com
  • Bosch smoke testing & smoke numbers [data needed]
  • Hartridge smoke testing & smoke numbers [data needed]
  • Uei Test Instruments, UEI 675 combustion analyzer ($775 U.S. Amazon.com), Uei D460 Draft Gauge, Website: http://www.ueitest.com/, UEI Test Instruments, Portland, OR 8030 SW Nimbus Beaverton, OR 97008 Tel: 503 644-8723 Tel: 1-800-547-5740 Fax: 503 643-6322 Email: info@ueitest.com
    UEI Test Instruments, 8030 SW Nimbus Beaverton, OR 97008 Tel: 503 644-8723 Tel: 1-800-547-5740 Fax: 503 643-6322 Email: info@ueitest.com

Also see COMPLETE COMBUSTION, STOICHIOMETRIC for an explanation of complete fuel combustion and boiler or furnace maximum efficiency.

The articles at this website describe how to recognize common oil-fired heating appliance operating or safety defects, and how to save money on home heating costs.

Readers should see HEATING SYSTEM INSPECTION PROCEDURE. There we explain an organized approach to inspecting the entire heating system, beginning outdoors, continuing indoors, and ultimately in most detail in the boiler or furnace room.


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