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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 HEAT, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
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 installation, troubleshooting, diagnosis & repair guide: here we provide a detailed guide to oil burners used on heating systems, boilers & furnaces: basic parts, operation, maintenance, repair, performance and heating cost money-saving tips. This article series answers most questions about central heating and water heating systems and provides guides for troubleshooting, inspection, diagnosis, and repairs. Also see our OIL BURNER INSPECTION & REPAIR and additional oil burner inspection, diagnosis, & repair article titles at Related Topics .
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Oil fired heating equipment such as hydronic (hot water) boilers, steam boilers, warm air furnaces, and water heaters, have used heating oil, usually No. 2 heating oil, and various types of oil burners to burn the fuel, thus providing a heat source for nearly 100 years.
This article describes the basics of how oil burners work, and we provide a guide to their inspection and problem diagnosis and repair.
How Oil Burners Work
Refer to the schematic of a conventional oil burner shown below, where we list the major parts parts of a modern oil burner. The sketch at above left is courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
If you need to diagnose and fix a oil fired heating equipment problem with your oil burner, read the text below but also be sure to check out the detailed oil burner articles listed at page top or at Related Topics listed under OIL BURNERS, and for more detailed oil burner troubleshooting see OIL BURNER INSPECTION & REPAIR. For heating system troubleshooting that starts before the oil burner, see DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER or DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
Sequence of steps in home heating or hot water heater oil burner operation:
We have an oil burner that is in the house since 1966. I want to buy a new one that will save us money each month on oil and at the same time be effective, as well as heat up our house. Do you know some names or dealers? I also do not want to get taken or robbed.
We also want to have the sludge taken out of our oil tank, can you recommend someone for both these services. We live on long island and are seniors. - M.P., Rockville Centre, Long Island
Our photo (left) shows an antiquated cast iron Arco™ boiler that was converted from coal to oil.
The oil burner on this unit was itself an antique, low-speed unit - though not the system named above nor the upgraded oil burner system described below.
Reply: here are some things to check before upgrading an oil burner
A competent onsite inspection of your entire heating system and chimney, performed by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem or might make clear if upgrading the oil burner on your heating system makes sense. That said, here are some things to consider:
Before even considering a new oil burner, you will want a thorough inspection of your boiler or furnace to be sure it's in good enough condition to be worth the investment. For example if the heater is badly rusted or cracked, it needs to be replaced.
If the heater itself is in good condition, the replacement burner can improve its efficiency and save you money. Our photo (left) shows a modification we [DF] performed to a large cast-iron heating boiler in New York.
The original low-speed oil burner was fired into the very bottom of a quite large, 1930's vintage cast iron boiler that was in good condition but running at the low 70% efficiency range. Originally this had been a coal-fired boiler, converted to burn oil. The original oil burner fired into the bottom of a large combustion chamber.
After inspecting the boiler to confirm that it was not damaged, we installed a new Beckett™ oil burner, firing it up through a higher door on the heating boiler. The system efficiency increased from around 71% (after cleaning and tuning) to 82% efficiency (also after cleaning and tuning) - a heating fuel cost savings improvement of 11 percentage points, but actually a15% reduction in heating oil cost.
We can't make specific contractor referrals for oil burner upgrades nor service. But you can make these efforts to steer clear of a bad experience:
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