Please help me. I don't know what to do. After a short vacation, my oil
furnace won't turn on automatically for hot water. Nothing else changed.
My home has a 19 year old oil furnace which says Burnham RSM-126 on a
plate. It will not turn on automatically for hot water.
I have to keep hitting the start button to make it turn on to heat the hot
This problem started after I had the water and furnace turned off for 2
weeks while I headed off on vacation.
Any suggestions on how I can troubleshoot this on my own? Or is this one
item which isn't home testable since it involves oil?
This is a boiler, not a furnace. Does the boiler run if you turn up a
heating thermostat? What "start switch" are you referring to? If you are
talking about a red button on the burner primary relay, the one that says
something like "push only once", you need to get an oil burner tech out.
That's a safety lockout telling you that something is malfunctioning in the
burner. Resetting it multiple times can be dangerous
Possibly contaminant in the oil. Dirty oil filter. Electrodes out of
adjustment or worn. Clogged or worn nozzle. It's possible that it lost it's
prime, but that would probably indicate a leak in the system, which would
need to be found. I assume you have the burner cleaned and serviced
annually. If not, you're just looking for these type of problems
On Sun, 10 Aug 2008 11:48:55 -0700, Donita Luddington wrote:
Sounds like you have some sort of circulating Hot Water home heating
system that also supplies heated water from a oil fired boiler to a large
potable hot water tank by way of separate piping and a circulating pump.
This is now a rare home heating system for most of the USA and Canada.
However, and whatever, device that controls the temperature inside the
H.W. tank and acts as the temperature set thermostat isn't getting it's
signal sent to your oil fired boiler and pump. It could be anything from
a simple switch you forgot to reset, to some limit switch that needs to
be manually bypassed until boiler gets up to some temp range, to....
It may not be your furnace (boiler) but some control electronics for the
boiler and H.W. Tank.
Sorry to say, but due to the your description, you may need a
professional to make a house call.
Best of luck.
Donna, I'd like to award you our weekly Booby Prize for person seeking a
solution to a real problem while providing little if any critical and
descriptive information so that people can help...
Way to go, girl!
On Sun, 10 Aug 2008 16:16:53 -0400, Special Ed wrote:
Actually, being in the business, I'd rather prefer a lot more people like
you Special Ed, who know full well that any home boiler problem is well
beyond the homeowner's expertise.
What the homeowner needs to do is call a professional as she couldn't hope
to solve the problem with help from this google group. Nobody here can help
her even get to first base on this.
The only way to solve this problem is to disassemble the boiler and clean
it out pronto! We charge 120 an hour for the estimate but you get all that
back for free once we do the work. At those prices, it doesn't pay for a
homeowner to try to save money themselves.
On Mon, 11 Aug 2008 21:23:47 -0700, Donita Luddington
Get the freakin hint! You havent a clue (thank god) on what you are
doing. You have described a problem with an oil boller that cannot be
repaired by anyone other than a qualified oil burner tech. It requires
combustion efficiency equipment and the knowledge of combustion. Your
burner flame is being sensed as NOT burning correctly. Keep pushing
the button and you will soon find out the fun of a completly sooted up
boiler. Know your limitations and call someone. YOU, cant fix it.
Just about the only thing you could do yourself is bleed the pump if
it has lost its prime (single fuel line system). If it has, that means
you will not be getting any fuel and when you hit that reset switch
and it will fire (or attempt to) for a minute and then shut down.
While this how-to is for when you have ran out of oil, it also applies
if your pump has lost its prime.
On Tue, 12 Aug 2008 06:43:03 -0700 (PDT), Siskuwihane wrote:
Great! Finally some help for a lost soul! I very much appreciate the
pointer. That's all I was looking for, which was the most common cause and
a possible diagnosis technique.
I'm at work but when I get home, I'll try it. I can't do it until I get
home though as there's nobody there to help me. All I have is you, thank
Do you think turning it off for my vacation could have been what made it
"lose it's prime"?
There is only so much the average home owner can do and you can
troubleshoot up to a certain point.
The first thing I check when having problems is my fuel level. Gauges
are known to stick and show full in the tank when it's empty or near
empty. Fuel level can be checked by tapping the tank side, dipping the
tank with a stick or unscrewing the gauge site and physically moving
the fuel level indicator to see if it is indeed stuck.
After I have confirmed I have fuel, I check to see if any is getting
to my burner either by sight or smell. I open
the little glass port and when my burner is trying to fire, I can see
fuel being sprayed into (or not) the combustion chamber. If I am not
getting fuel and I know I have fuel in my tank I will then bleed my
pump. If that fails (and it usually doesn't) I know I may have an
obstruction or pump problem.
If I am getting fuel and it's not firing then I check to see if I am
getting spark but this is the point that you should call for help.
If you have fuel, everytime you press that red button it will be
spraying fuel into your combustion chamber and pretty soon you have
unburned fuel pooling up in there and that's not something you want
when you eventually get it to fire.
On Tue, 12 Aug 2008 08:03:19 -0700 (PDT), Siskuwihane wrote:
I vacuum it out a lot and clean the hot water coils several times a year
but that's about it for normal maintenance. Should I have done more?
The wierd thing is I don't have any problem with the Burnham boiler not
firing up once I presses the button to start it.
At first, I was having to press the button a couple times to get it to go,
but once I took your advice and cleaned the nozzle, the Burnham boiler now
fires up right away. That's an improvement!
But I guess once it turns off because I stop using hot water, the boiler
just doesn't go back on again.
The fuel tank is full as I stuck a long broomstick in there so I know there
I know a lot of people have said it lost it's prime (just like me,
LOL)...... but are you sure it lost its prime if it starts up when I press
the button but just won't start up on its own?
Repairing an oil burner is one of those deals where if you have to ask
online for advice you probably shouldn't be doing it. It isn't
difficult particularly but there's more than one way that you can
screw it up in a fashion that is dangerous or that can result in
expensive damage. It's one of those jobs that you really want to
learn hands-on from someone who knows what they are doing rather than
reading about it in a book.
If you are absolutely determined to do it after reading about it in a
book, going to amazon and searching on '"oil burner" repair' (use the
double-quotes) will find several trade-school texts.
when the burner tries to start, do you get a flame or not..
the problem is either
1) you get no flame and the saftey kicks out in which case you need to
determine why the flame won't ignite i.e. lack of fuel or lack of
ignition, lack of air etc.
2) you get a flame but the control system thinks that you are not
getting a flame... then you need to troubleshoot the control system,
i.e. a dirty flame sensor, bad relay etc...
But the other guys are correct, if you screw up, you could cause big
trouble ...the main danger is everytime you press the red button, if
there is no flame, unburned fuel collects in the fire box, when you do
finally get it to light, all that accumulated fuel will light all at
once and that can be very bad...
the other danger is don't do anything to defeat any saftey system,
they are there for a reason..
I think Audels has some good books. Be careful
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