Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
OIL STORAGE TANKS
ABANDONING OIL TANKS
AGE of OIL TANK
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BURIED OIL TANK ADVICE
BURIED OIL TANKS, FINDING
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
DEFINITION of HEATING & COOLING TERMS
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DIRECTORY of OIL TANK EXPERTS
FILTERS, OIL on HEATING EQUIPMENT
FIRE SAFETY CONTROLS
FLOATING UP OIL STORAGE or SEPTIC TANKS
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
FUEL OIL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
FUEL UNIT, HEATING OIL PUMPS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GAUGES ON HEATING EQUIPMENT
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU Cost Table
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HEATING OIL TYPES & PROPERTIES
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HOME BUYERS GUIDE TO OIL TANKS
NOISE CONTROL for HEATING SYSTEMS
NOISES COMING FROM WATER HEATER
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL FILTERS on HEATING EQUIPMENT
OIL FUEL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
OIL FILL PIPE LEAKS
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
THERMAL TRACKING & HEAT LOSS
VIDEO GUIDES: Heating System Videos
VIDEO GUIDES - InspectAPedia.com
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This document describes defects in heating oil and oil burner safety controls, safety valves and electrical switches. All of the oil storage tank and piping installation defects described here can easily be found by visual inspection. Beyond the costly problem of leaky oil piping, this document lists other important safety or oil-fired equipment operational defects in home and light commercial heating oil storage and piping systems.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
OIL BURNER SAFETY SWITCHES & CONTROLS- How to Inspect & Report Oil Heat or Oil Hot Water Heater Defects by Visual Inspection
The list of oil heat safety controls that follows also provides a guide to determining where there are missing or defective "off on reset" safety controls & switches at the Oil Tank & Oil Burner, beginning with electrical shutoff switches for heat or fossil fuel fired appliances and followed by oil line shut off valves.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Because some controls are used in common on hot water heat, hot air heat, and steam boilers, readers should see these other articles: see BOILER CONTROLS & SWITCHES, and also see BOILER COMPONENTS & PARTS for a detailed list of heating boiler controls, other heating system components, parts such as circulator pumps & draft regulators.
If your building uses warm air heat, see FURNACE CONTROLS & SWITCHES.
If your building uses steam heat see STEAM HEATING SYSTEMS.
Carson Dunlop's sketch shows an electrical switch to turn off the oil burner and a manual oil line valve, both of which should be located away from the oil burner.
An oil fired heating system should have the following safety controls and valves installed:
The Firematic fusible-link automatic oil line shutoff valve (photo at left) should only be present on the oil supply line. This is a manual or automatic valve that will stop the flow of oil in the oil line.
This valve controls flow of fuel oil to the oil burner of heating boilers, furnaces, and water heaters.
Fusible link Oil Valve: Oil line safety valves have a lead or other soft metal core that melts and closes the valve so that the system won't keep feeding oil to the heating equipment if the area is on fire. See our photo at below left for an example of a Firematic™ safety valve right at the oil burner. Synonyms: Fire-o-Matic valve, Fusible link valve, oil line shutoff valve, oil safety valve, and Fir-o-matic (aka "Fireamatic") valve.
The standard oil safety valve used at the oil burner and often found also at the oil tank is the Firematic™ fusible link safety valve. The Firematic™ oil line valve can be installed in ANY position - (vertical, horizontal, upside down) at least that's what we were taught and what we have seen - the valve is spring loaded.
In a fire a lead core melts at 165°F and a spring in the valve assembly snaps the valve shut to assure that the heating system does not feed oil to a building fire. It has to work in any orientation.
See OIL LINE SAFETY VALVES, OSVs for details about the operation and use of this double duty-valve, used both as an oil piping supply-line shutoff valve and as a fusible link valve for fire safety.
SAFETY warning: If the oil line fire safety valves are missing or are not at the right location, we recommend immediate installation of a Fire-o-matic™ type fusible link oil line safety valve on the oil line at the burner.
Fireomatic ™ or Firomatic™ (or its successors and possibly other companies) produced a Firomatic Thermal Switch TS-150 series (or other brand) electrical safety switch that interestingly uses a similar spring-loaded fusible switch to cut off electrical power to a heating appliance (boiler, furnace, water heater) in the event of a fire.
Details about this device are at FIREMATIC FUSIBLE ELECTRICAL SWITCH
If two oil lines are used to supply an oil burner, Do NOT install an automatic oil line shutoff on the return oil line between the oil burner and the oil tank. Use a check valve instead. The automatic oil line shutoff valve should only be present on the oil supply line. Further explanation is below.
SAFETY WARNING: If oil line valves are missing or are not at the right location there is risk of system malfunction, oil leaks, and fire damage. We recommend installation of a Firematic fusible link (Fire-o-matic)™ type oil line safety valve on the oil line at the burner. This valve controls flow of fuel oil to the burner, and has a lead core which melts and shuts the valve, stopping the flow of oil in event of a fire in the building.
Even when a fusible link oil line valve is installed at the oil tank, the proper place for this protection is right at the burner as well. A valve in that location also makes servicing the heating equipment easier, faster, and cleaner.
Where do we Put the OSV or a Check Valve on a Heating Oil Line?
If two oil lines are used to supply an oil burner, install a fusible link oil line shutoff valve only on the oil supply line at the oil pump on the oil burner.
Do NOT install an automatic oil line shutoff on the return oil line between the oil burner and the oil tank. See OIL LINE SAFETY VALVES, OSVs for details about this double duty-valve, used both as an oil piping supply-line shutoff valve and as a fusible link valve for fire safety.
Most sources also advise against installing a check valve on the return oil line - a topic we discuss ad nauseam over at OIL LINE CHECK VALVES.
Watch out: The valve shown at above left should not be used as a check valve in the application we just discussed. This is a Webster vacuum-operated OSV & requires a vacuum to open. If installed in the return line the valve would be pressurized, not open, cause the shaft seal to rupture or blow out & result in a major oil leak. Thanks to reader Rick Johnston for adding clarification.
Tigerloop™ and other Oil Line Devices to Maintain Prime and Simplify Oil Piping
If your oil burner uses a Tigerloop™ oil-line de-aerator (photo at left) to remove air or foam from the incoming oil line, the company notes that UL requires a fusible link oil valve installed in the (bottom) center (inlet) port of the Tigerloop™ device.
Tigerloop™ is an oil de-aerator installed at the oil pump (fuel unit) on an oil burner. It can help avoid losing prime on heating oil lines if there is a problem with air leakage into the oil piping.
Watch out: Tigerloop™ adds that you should never install an oil line shutoff device between the de-aerator device and the oil pump. Shown is the Tigerloop S220. A variation is available, the Tigerloop-ultra™ S-220-8 that incorporates an oil filter as well.
The manufacturer, Westwood, indicates in an article quoted from Fuel Oil News magazine that using the Tigerloop™ model TN device permits omission of the return oil pipe traditionally used with buried or distant heating oil tanks.
Also see OIL LINE SAFETY VALVES, OSVs for more information about check valves, fusible link safety valves, and oil line de-aerators
Watch out: Tigerloop™ warns that you should never install an oil line shutoff device between the de-aerator device and the oil pump.
Or as reader T.R. clarifies: ... I've been reading about TigerLoop oil fuel line de-aerators. When they are used, the manufacturer recommends that the fusible valve near the burner be attached at the inlet of their de-aeration device.
Details about a suspected leak in oil line piping where a de-aerator or oil line air removal device is installed are in a Q&A discussion found at OIL BURNER PIPING LEAKS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Questions & answers or comments about selecting, installing, or using safety controls and switches on oil-fired heating equipment
Check the FAQs just above, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.