Photograph of  a modern oil-fired heating boilerOil Burner Operating Problems
Defects observed when the oil burner is running

  • OIL BURNER OPERATING TROUBLE - CONTENTS: When the burner is actually running there are key observations that will help troubleshoot Oil Burner problems
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about oil burner inspection, diagnosis, & repair, troubleshooting procedure, how to get the oil burner running again, best order of diagnostic steps.

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Oil burner operating problem summary:

Here we summarize the common problems you can observe when the oil burner is actually running, or trying to run to heat a boiler, furnace, or water heater. These valuable clues can often diagnose an oil burner problem.

This article series describes how to inspect, diagnose & repair oil burners used on oil-fired heating boilers or furnaces using a visual inspection approach as well as (optional) simple test equipment.

We include a description of common oil burner adjustment and operating problems and we illustrate some of the basic oil burner tests and measurements made in servicing and adjusting the equipment for safe, efficient operation.

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Signs of Trouble at the Oil Burner - During Operation: Odors, Noises, Soot, Goes Off on Reset

Oil burner schematic (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Here we will describe a series of oil burner operating problems that you can observe when the burner is running - or trying to run.

For a very detailed explanation of how an oil burner and oil fired heating equipment works, see BOILER OPERATING STEPS, 39 steps in how a heating boiler works.

The oil burner parts sketch shown here is courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates, a Toronto home inspection, report writing tool, & home inspection education company. [Click to enlarge any image]

The following oil burner noise clues are taken from our more complete article: OIL BURNER NOISE SMOKE ODORS.

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

Oil Burner Smoke Test - Indicates Proper Combustion Air, Draft, Burner Adjustment

Oil burner smoke test equipment, Bachrach Kit (C) Daniel FriedmanThe basic measurements made by any competent oil heat service technician include the stack temperature, draft, smoke level, and carbon dioxide level. These data tell us whether or not the equipment is properly adjusted and operating safely and economically.

One of these most basic tests performed by an oil heat service technician is the "smoke test" using a strip of filter paper and a pump to sample the oil burner exhaust, measuring the level of smoke in the exhaust.

Details of how to measure the oil burner smoke level, a key measure used in setting the combustion air level, are now

Our photo (above left) shows a traditional smoke testing pump (the black cylinder with a handle at its right end) used for decades. This equipment was produced by Bachrach, an oil burner test equipment manufacturer.

Oil Burner CO2 Test - Carbon Dioxide Level Indicates System Efficiency

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.

Details of measuring the carbon dioxide level for oil burners, a second key measurement needed for proper setting of oil burner combustion air & operating temperature are now

This article series explains the inspection, diagnosis, & repair of oil burners used in heating appliances such as hot water boilers, steam boilers, & water heaters.

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Continue reading at OIL BURNER INSIDE TROUBLE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



Or see OIL BURNER WONT RUN - Diagnostic Steps - what to check in what order

Or see OIL BURNER DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - diagnostic questions & answers about oil burners

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