Oil Fired Boiler Problems

I have an oil fired boiler for heat with old fashioned 1930's-style hot wat er radiators. The furnace started turning off every week or so and I called our oil company repair people. The guy came out last week when I was at wo rk and replaced the pump. It went off the next night and about every night after that. I have to run downstairs in the middle of the night to hit the reset button. Not the most unfortunate person in the history of the world, but it is annoying.
I had the same problem with my oil-fired hot water tank last spring. Same t hing, called the oil company repair team. They came out four or five times, replaced something expensive each time but never got it to work. I finally got an electric tank.
This time I thought I'd give them one more chance but they blew it. I don't want to spend a couple thousand on them repeatedly replacing random parts and not fixing the problem, so I'm calling another company. I could replace random parts myself if I had the time.
Any ideas on what could be wrong? It works OK for a day or so, but then it gets cold, generally in the middle of the night. The thermostat is set for 70 but the thermometer is 60. I press the reset button, it chatters a bit, then the oil ignites. Stays warm and cycles well for 20-30 hours, then goes to sleep again.
Paul
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On 12/13/2014 9:13 PM, Pavel314 wrote:

Hard to diagnose, over the wire. Could be clogged nozzle, bad electrodes, dirty cad cell, or a list of things. Good oil man can help a lot.
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Paul, If the burner trips off on the safety, that means the burner is not igniting when starting, or it is going out after it started. The purpose of the safety is to prevent unburnt oil from collecting in the firebox. The first step is to determine if the fire doesn,t light, or lights and then goes out. Its tedious to sit there and watch it for a day. Maybe a video cam can be set up. Mark
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On Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:51:47 -0500, Stormin Mormon

Since you had problems with both, I'd also wonder if the filter is dirty restricting the flow.
A couple of oil guys have told me a burner should be serviced about every 1000 gallons.
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On Sunday, December 14, 2014 8:10:48 AM UTC-5, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

t water radiators. The furnace started turning off every week or so and I c alled our oil company repair people. The guy came out last week when I was at work and replaced the pump. It went off the next night and about every n ight after that. I have to run downstairs in the middle of the night to hit the reset button. Not the most unfortunate person in the history of the wo rld, but it is annoying.

ame thing, called the oil company repair team. They came out four or five t imes, replaced something expensive each time but never got it to work. I fi nally got an electric tank.

Agree. Or something else in the fuel flow, ie clogged pickup, partially collapsed line. He doesn't say how the two are fed, what they have in common, etc.
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wrote:

A one-family home?
I don't have a boiler but I've had an oil furnace for 30 years.
The Reset trips when there is no flame, or when the flame detector is bad.
A bad pump could prevent a flame, but I don't see pressing reset as making a bad pump good again. Somethings in this world overheat, and work later after cooling off, but I don't think the oil pump is in this category.
Do you have a nozzle that that sprays out "atomized" oil. I assume you do. Those need replacing every year because they clog from "dirt" in the oil. I have stretched one out to more than that, even two years, but I was depressed then and I won't do that anymore. You can r eplace the nozzle yourself, with two wrenches. My mistake at first was using one wrench that was too big. It seemed like a big job so I used a big wrench, but it bumped into the electrode insulators. Now I use a 6" asjustable Crescent-like wrench, like for a bicycle, to hold the whole unit, and I think I can use something even a little bigger for the nozzle itself. You'll see if you try.
Poorly adjusted electrodes can prevent a fire, but again, why would it work after you press reset.
The ignitiion transformer, often a big black box -- I can go measure it -- on top makes the high voltage that powers the spark. A broken one will not make spark and not make fire. I would be suspicious of that, because I had one that overheated and iirc would work again later, when it cooled off I guess. At the time I couln't figure out how to test it, but I had a spare and after I replaced it, the furnace has worked for years. OTOH, how long after it stops do you press the Reset? If it's only 20 seconds, I woulnd't expect it to have cooled off, or I'd expect it to get hot again soon. OT3H, maybe the wires that move around when it's hot move erratically. Still, I'm susicious of the transformer. I believe Home Depot markets one "universal transformer", but I don't think that means they stock it in stores. Maybe you can buy it online and return it to a store??? a) On the web if possible, I would look at where it hinges and where the screw one from lifting it, and make sure any replacement fits your furnace. Maybe there are instructions online that shhow how to make it fit when it seems like it won't. (IIRC it doesn't look like it would fit mine. Mine has a hinge ont the left and a bolt on the right near the rear. Newer ones may be more likely to be different. Testing the xformer then would have been difficult, but if you can catch it when it won't start, you can use a tool to lift open the inspection door -- does it have one -- 4" round. You can see the fire when there's fire, and I think you coudl see some light from the electrodes if the ignition ttanformer was working and the electrodes reasonably adjusted. But you only have 45 seconds and everything might be hot, so get some big screwdriver ready in advance. Once it trips, it's maybe 5 minutes before you can reset again, and each time it starts without burning leaves about 1.2 oz. of fuel oil in the bottom of the firebox for me with a 0.75 gph nozzle. You don't want to do that many times. They have a thing they throw in to burn off the stuff in the bottom. When my transfomer was bad, I don't remember how long it took to cool off (heat must have been the problem) but it ran for a day or two before it tripped again. That made me think it wasn't the heat -- how long does it take to get any part hot? Less than 24 hours it seems -- but it must have been. I only mentioned Home Depot because it's close. Here are more ideas, including a video on testing the xformer spark, which I havent' watched yet. https://www.google.com/search?num 0&site=&source=hp&q=ignition+transformer+oil+burner&oq=ignition+transformer+oil+burner&gs_l=hp.3...373.8017.0.8590.32.23.0.2.2.0.553.2386.2-3j3j0j1.7.0.msedr...0...1c.1.60.hp..23.9.2412.0.9jGLVkkkrwE Home Depot still has the same one, but searching on ignition. transformer didn't work. I had to say oil burner transformer and even then it's called an oil burner igniter by them http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-Electronic-Oil-Igniter-51771U/202312891?keyword=oil++burner++transformer Maybe that's because it's not a pure transformer anymore. It's Beckett which is good and my burner is Beckett, but it sure doesn't look like it will fit my 35 year old burner. But it's only 50 dollars, a typical price. They don't stock it and they want until Dec. 24 to ship it to the store.
ONe of the reviews might be helpful: "was having problems with burner and this solved my problem and was easy to install." So it sounds like he too didn't have total failure.
Continuing on, It won't run if the flame sensor says there's no flame even when there is. Newer burners use a Cd cell to sense light from the flame, and they give 45 seconds or so, predetermined, for the flame and light to appear. So if it's broken, it will trip in 45 seconds or whatever it is designed for, up to 75 or 90 seconds iirc. I clean my sensor every time I'm having problems, but it's never been dirty. But a sensor dirty enough would fail to see light when there is light. But then why would the furnace run a whole day or week after you press reset. And the service man should have cleaned the sensor, so that it shouldnt' be dirty already. When you unscrew any bolt that holds the ignition tranformer in place and lift it up on the side where the hinge isn't, you'll see the ends of the electrodes, the oil tube between them, and closest to you, the Cd light sensor, if your burner is under 30 or 40 years old and uses one. Older burners, I guess they didn't have available reliable light sensors, didn't use that but used a temp sensor in the flue, and when it got hot, it assumed there was a fire. I suppose it had to wait more than 45 seconds to conclude there was no fire. I'll get more details if that's what you have.
If the oil filter is clogged that woudl restrict the oil. Did he replace the oil filter. Does it look any different? On a complaint like yours and if he's blaming the oil pump, I think he shoudl have replaced the oil filter. Though I don't have a filter and I've never had a problem because of that. and neither does my next door neighbor. I think none of the 100 houses had one originally.

Absolutely. And it sounds like now it's worse! Maybe that would have happened anyhow. I had a noise from my furnace and couldn't manage to slide the air circulation fan out. I was cold and had more money then, but mostly I was going away for a month and I imagined maybe there was someway this noise could set fire to my house (fan breaks, house never reaches room temp, furnace runs 24 hours a day, FIRE?) so I called the oil cmpany and a guy came out and changed the air circulatiion motor. It made the same noise within 10 minutes of his leaving, maybe within a minute. I called the company and told them that I wanted my motor back, which they delivered. I don't know if it's really the same motor. I've used two motors to power bench tools, but I've had no use for this one. I should have asked for my money back. Maybe I later got another squirrel cage from them for no more charge.
The noise was from the squirrel cage fan, and affter a day or so, the cage restuck itself in the collar and the noise went away. But it came back months later, before the end of the winter.
Maybe I didnt' get the free squirrel cage because I was mad and I switched oil companies.
Later somehow I talked on the phone to the owner fo the first one and he said I should have called him personally, and he woudl have made it right. And I should have.
And you should call the president of the company that didn't fix your furnace. Tell him the whole story including the hot water and they should make the situation right. The owner cares about his places reputation. The employees probably still think they fixed your furnace and don't care as much as the owner if they didnt.

The Reset button chatters or the burner chatters? I think I've had both.
Continuing on, it won't run if the control box, the one with the Reset, is bad, but I don't think that's your problem. You could take the cover off, maybe one screw, and look for bad things, but my control panel IS broken but looks just fine.
They should come out and fix the problem for free. As to parts, you've already paid for an oil pump.

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wrote:

This is one of the two Check the Spark videos. It's a good one.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qFTRItYGXw

He seems to think if it's got a good spark like this one, it's fine.
Maybe your spark will be much shorter, or maybe he's wrong, even with a good spark now, it can overheat later. Of course he probably's been doing this for 10 or 20 years, and what do i know (OTOH, he said there are no more beckys that hinge at the side, and I have one that does.)
Let us know what the problem turns out to be. especially if it's the xformer and especially if it fails his test.
This one's good too, by the same guy, It has added info.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ivl2kjMKlU

There are lots of videos about fixing oil burners, esp. about doing tasks,
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