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AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BACKUP HEAT for HEAT PUMPS
BANGING HEATING PIPES RADIATORS
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - InspectAPedia
BTU USAGE MONITORS
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CIRCULATOR PUMPS & RELAYS
DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DIRECT VENTS / SIDE WALL VENTS
DRAFT REGULATORS, DAMPERS, BOOSTERS
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
FAN, AIR HANDLER BLOWER UNIT
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLUE SIZE SPECIFICATIONS
GAS BURNER Flame & Noise Defects
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GEOTHERMAL HEATING SYSTEMS
HEAT PUMPS, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HEATING OIL PIPING TROUBLES
HEATING OIL TANKS
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HEATING SYSTEM TYPES
GAS LP & NATURAL GAS SAFETY HAZARDS
MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
NOISE, HEATING SYSTEMS
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL FILTERS on HEATING EQUIPMENT
OIL FILL PIPE LEAKS
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
PLASTIC Plexvent / Ultravent RECALL
PUFFBACKS, OIL BURNER
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
Reset Switch - Heater Primary Control
RESET SWITCH - ELECTRIC MOTOR
Reset Switch - Stack Relays
SAFETY, HEATING INSPECTION
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
SOLAR HEATING SYSTEM DESIGNS
SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT
STEAM HEATING SYSTEMS
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
VIDEO GUIDES: Heating System Videos
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
ZONE VALVES, HEATING
Oil burner won't start or won't keep running: step by step checklist to to diagnose & repair an oil burner that won't run or keeps stopping. Oil burners used on oil-fired heating boilers, furnaces, or water heaters can often be diagnosed using a visual inspection approach as well as (optional) simple test equipment described here.
This article series answers most questions about all types of 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 and students of heating service methods about common heating system defects. 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
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We have collected oil burner diagnostic procedures from several texts,  -  adapted, expanded, and generally re-ordered steps in order of most likely to be successful and easiest to perform.
For example it makes sense to check for a valve or switch that is off, or an oil filter that is clogged, before we start disassembling the fuel unit.
A good starting point is at HEAT WON'T TURN ON. You can return here from that article. Start right at the room thermostat. Or jump right into the detailed sequence below.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: oil burner won't run, it buzzes
(Feb 5, 2013) Brian said:
My oil furnace cuts off several times a day. As it goes to cut back on, the thermostat will click, and there is a buzzing sound at the furnace. After a few seconds of buzzing, the red button will trip. After I push the red button to reset, it will buzz again, but a light to moderate bump to the top of the igniter will cause the furnace to kick on. I've already replaced the igniter. Any idea what could be the issue? Thanks
When the oil burner trips off on safety reset DO NOT keep pushing the reset button. Once is OK. More than once floods the combustion chamber and makes actual service and repair more costly, difficult, and dangerous. Your heating system needs service and repair by a traine service technician. Some typical reasons for oil burner failure are in the article above.
Question: oil burner won't run after sitting for two years
(Oct 11, 2012) Jeff said:
I've been trying to help a friend resolve a beckett oil burner problem. He says it ran fine for years then sat unused for 2 years. When he tried it the first time it fired up and ran fine. But since then it won't ignite. Any insight into what could have went wrong? I tested everything electrical and all seems fine.
I smell fuel after it tries to start (when I open the view door)
Perhaps the flue had a nest in it or something which wasn't obstructing, but after it ran it pulled it down and clogged the air flow? Maybe I can bypass the flue to see if it that resolves it? Could the fuel have gone bad but ran once for a few minutes and now just won't ignite? Any insight would be well appreciated.
(Oct 15, 2012) TONI said:
I can say is that the system is clogged and due to waxing.Its never good to have it running then to just stop running for two years!I would say it could be the pump,nozzel,I would check everything in the whole system.Thee circuit board,the thermostat,the low water cutoff switch,the blower motor.You need to hire HVAC/R tecnic they are the only ones can better dignosis the problem and fix it!
D Friedman added
I agree in part with your diagnosis of Jeff's problem getting an oil-fired heating system working after a prolonged shutdown, but the terms need to be clarified.
WAXING refers to gelling of heating oil - something that occurs at very low temperatures. This is not likely to be Jeff's problem.
But solidified soot and creosote and similar deposits inside the oil burner assembly as well as in the heat exchanger often form when a system is left shut down for a long time, especially so if the system was not thoroughly cleaned promptly at the time it was taken out of service. This is a reason that we recommend that annual oil-fired heating equipment service and cleaing is best performed at the end of the heating season rather than at the start of the next one.
Question: repaced nozzle, oil burner won't run
(Nov 9, 2012) jessie said:
i replace my nozzel 075 on my beckett burner now it will not contunie to run, i thank its my cad cell and oil primary control, what
Jessie, if the system was running before you replaced the nozzle and it won't continue to run now, start by reviewing everything you touched to see what was left askew, disconnected, dirty, or improperly adjusted. Try the flowchart above on this page.
Question: oil burner works intermittently, goes off on reset
(Jan 22, 2013) AL-Amin said:
Our Burner is recently serviced by a expert who claimed has changed: nozzle,cad cell, fuel pump and oil filter, and all other things, after a month it is now working intermittently, once reset, it goes until the thermostat switch it off and never come back unless I press to reset it(However it will only start when the heat exchange pipes are not warm).Now the expert is quoting 5000 dollar to replace my over 20years old peerless (2.5gph, 760sqf steam), and only 8 years old Beckett burner. The chimney were also cleaned a year ago. Please advice!!
If your oil burner does not run after having it serviced, call the company's service manager and politely ask for a more experienced service technician.
Do NOT keep pushing the reset button - that can be unsafe.
Questions about oil burner heating service techs and DIY oil burner servicing:
(Jan 27, 2013) Bob said:
Quite a few years ago I used to get qualified service men to do the yearly service on our oil furnace.,
Bob, while we support basic tasks that a homeowner can do, even inspecting for obvious signs of oil burner malfunction such as soot, odors, leaks, noises, without actual training and proper equipment one cannot properly adjust a heating oil burner.
Older oil burners were more tolerant of modest mis-adjustments and would limp along throughout the season. With the shift to modern high-speed 3450 rpm oil burners and higher efficiency heating boilers and furnaces, more accurate adjustment of oil line pressure, combustion air, draft, and more thorough attention to filters, nozzles, electrode adjustments, oil pump fuel strainer, are necessary for proper, safe operation.
In several decades of working around oil fired heating equipment, while I sometimes found an oil burner that had been chugging along unattended for several years, I generally found that oil fired heating equipment really needs an annual cleaning and service to run properly, safely, and reliably.
In short, lucky to have a 50 year old machine that is still fairly simple to tune and adjust, but even then I would not assume you're running the system at its optimum adjustments - which means you risk wasting money on fuel. If it were my system I'd think it's long past time to ask for an inspection, cleaning, and tune-up by a trained heating service tecnician.
Question: crud onb the end of the oil burner tube
(Dec 23, 2012) Anonymous said:
I have a oil build up on the end f the blast tube that sealed the end up
Anon, you describe a symptom of a system that needs cleaning and service. The turbulator or blades on the end of the oil burner tube are there to give a desired pattern and movement to combustion air as it enters the combustion chamber. A dirty nozzle or burner operation clogs the turbulator, eventually to the point that the burner will fail to ignite and run properly. A heating service tech who fails to inspect and if needed clean the turbulator is not doing his or her job.
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