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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
This is one of the two Check the Spark videos. It's a good one.
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.
There are lots of videos about fixing oil burners, esp. about doing
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