Oil boiler gets dirty quickly.

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Thetruck454

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Looking for advice on what to check/what my next steps should be. I'm not a professional by any means, just a homeowner who likes to try to do things themselves.

In the basement I have a 275 double walled steel horizontal tank with a general air red toped filter. The line then goes up about 4 feet travels 25 horizontally before it drops to the burner. A couple years ago was having an issue with the burner locking out repeatedly when the tank was low (I assumed it was a aeration issue due to the pump having to pull up that high) so I put in a tiger loop with a 10 micron spin on filter on the wall about 1 ft above the burner/fuel pump. That again solved the problem at the moment. Now fast forward to this year and the burner was cleaned/serviced in the spring. About August this year I started to hear it banging while it was firing. I scheduled a cleaning, but due to the backlog the furnace got bad enough it would trip out. With the help of google I bought a couple spare nozzles and changed it out. It immediately started firing nice and smooth again. In October the plumbing company came out and cleaned the furnace. So here we are about two months out and you can hear the furnace starting to get loud again.

I'm not sure what to check again. Replacing the nozzle will probably temporarily fix it, but I don't feel I'm solving the problem. Any suggestions?

Even if it's something I can't troubleshoot and I have to hire a plumbing company come out again, I'd like to be knowledgeable enough to have a two way conversation with them.
 

JohnCT

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It's hard to say what's going on without actually hearing it, seeing the flame, and doing a smoke test at the very least. Monitoring the pump pressure at this point (especially with a tiger loop) can also be telling. Nozzles can last for years or can last for far less. I had a new nozzle fail within 5 minutes of installation.

As good as the machining is on nozzles, there's still enough difference where any nozzle installation, including the exact same size, shape, brand, and gph, requires combustion and smoke testing every time the nozzle is replaced.

If you have an extra nozzle, I guess you can try it after replacing the filters and cleaning the screen. If it runs smooth, let the technician come out and adjust it for the new nozzle. If he's an old-school "eyeballer", I'd get someone else to service it.

John
 

Fitter30

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Burner needs to set up with proper equipment. Checking oil pressure, draft and flue analyzer o2, co and stack temp. Call your oil provider see they have a serviceman or a company recommendation. Looking for someone that does a lot of oil burner work.
 

Thetruck454

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I put a permanent pressure gauge on the pump before I installed the tiger loop. It sits right at 160 psig, though the needle does flutter. I assumed the fluttering was due to the pump pressure spikes. You mentioned to look at the pump pressure especially with a tiger loop, are they known to cause issues?

I pulled the npt plug out to look at the flame, but to be honest I didn't know what I was looking for as far as shape/color.

I didn't think about the new nozzle being bad. I have another nozzle I'll try to throw on.

I don't know if the technician I've been hiring uses an exhaust analyzer or he's more old school. I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask.
 

JohnCT

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I put a permanent pressure gauge on the pump before I installed the tiger loop. It sits right at 160 psig, though the needle does flutter. I assumed the fluttering was due to the pump pressure spikes. You mentioned to look at the pump pressure especially with a tiger loop, are they known to cause issues?

Sometimes a tiger loop is installed to hide a bit of an air leak instead of repairing it which is why I asked about pressure.

When I started playing around with combustion equipment (wet type...), I discovered my eyeballing wasn't bad except I seemed to err consistently on the side of lean. Lean is better than rich if you must be off, but lean reduces efficiency. The other thing I discovered is that *minute* adjustments to the burner's shutters that had no visible effect on the flame did have a not insignificant effect on the combustion readings! I'm talking almost two full points on the CO2 and O2. The point is that if your technician is eyeballing the flame, he shouldn't be taking money if he's charging for "adjustments".

I read somewhere (from a pro of which I am not) who said something like 1 out of 10 nozzles he used were either bad or failed in a short window. When my boiler was brand new, I ran it for a few minutes to let it build temperature. Sounded smooth as glass for the first three minutes then suddenly started rumbling and flapping the barometric damper. The flame had gone from a nice bright cone to a darker orange smokey flame that impinged on the rear target wall. A new nozzle fixed that. Three minutes..

John
 

Fitter30

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Need to check your burner manual nozzles are rated at 100 lbs. 160 will make a finer mist, added flow isn't linear. So a 1 gallon nozzle at 200 lbs doesn't flow 2 gallon more like 1.6. Bacharach shaker analyzers only used one once 40+ years ago results were all over the place. Chemicals were expensive and toxic.
 
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Thetruck454

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So I replaced the nozzle again air now she's purring like a kitten. The old nozzle was very wet with oil. Looking at the burner manual for the blower/fan I have it states a .65x70 a or ss nozzle @ 150 psig. The nozzle in there and the one I replaced it with is a .65x70a. Looking closer at the pressure gauge it's more like 165psig and there is some weeping around the threads. Looks like I didn't get a good seal on the 1/4 to 1/8 npt reducer at the gauge.

Also I noticed one of the electrodes doesn't have it's pointy tip. I didn't think to check to see if the spacing was set, but if it's igniting the flame should I be concerned? Those only momentarily run to start the flame correct?
 
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JohnCT

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Also I noticed one of the electrodes doesn't have it's pointy tip. ... Those only momentarily run to start the flame correct?

Once the flame is ignited, the electrodes no longer have an effect on the combustion - correct. Depending on your primary control, the ignition system may be shut down about 10 seconds after combustion is detected. Interrupted ignition greatly extends the life of the electrodes and ignition transformer.

But, if your electrodes are rounded and/or not gapped and spaced properly, you risk delayed ignition which can cause a small explosion and damage.

John
 
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