oil furnace problems

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by crossthreaded, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. crossthreaded

    crossthreaded New Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    I have posted this at another forum but have not received any answers and we are going through a cold snap now and I can just see the power bill going up from using all these damn space heaters.

    I have an old williamson oil furnace that over the past couple months would trip the reset button. I could usually just reset it and it would be no problem.

    Now it has tripped and will not ignite. It will spray oil but will not ignite. I took the filters out but that didn't do anything. I do not think that the oil filter could be the problem because I can not even hear it clicking trying to ignite. I had noticed if I was down in the basement over the past couple months that it would shudder upon ignition from time to time.

    I am replacing the unit in the spring with a gas furnace and heat pump so I would really like to avoid the cost of having someone come look at it, I also do not like having to pay someone to do something I can do myself.

    any help is greatly appreciated.
  2. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Nov 23, 2006
    disabled-retired industrial fabricator
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    I hear you there, but some occasional "incompletes" over the years have taught me that being handy is sometimes just not enough.
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  4. joe in queens

    joe in queens New Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    Just because you're having problems with one type of equipment doesn't mean you won't have trouble with another... so why will you be switching to GAS is the question. ANY type of equipment will malfuction if it not maintained. Most oil fired equipment is ripped out needlessly.

    Would help to know the model BURNER on this boiler, as well as control, but it sounds like delayed ignition. Check the electrode gap, electrodes, transformer and wiring.

    Delayed ignition can also be caused by improper draft, low fuel pressure, incorrect nozzle, sooted up insides, etc. What are your draft numbers? What is your pump pressure?

    There is no reason why an oil furnance should be locking out... unless it wasn't serviced properly. Many today can easily go two years without service... provided they're set-up properly.

  5. crossthreaded

    crossthreaded New Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    The house was bought as an investement and will be sold this time next year. I am upgrading the hvac since it is at least 20 years old. I am also switching to gas hot water, gas stovetop, and installing gas logs in the fireplace. The whole house needs to be updated as it has not been touched in at least 15 years.

    Do I just need to pull the side panel off to check all of the aformention items? I was not sure what access panel needed to come off to get in there and look at everything.

    I am at work now but will figure out the model number etc when I get home.
  6. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    Sep 30, 2006
    computer programmer
    MN, USA
    The "Lock out" tripping means that it was pumping fuel but not burning it. This means you have an ignition problem.

    This page has good photos of how most gun style oil furnaces are made.
    Note the electrode gap distance and measure your electrodes.

    You most likely have a problem with the electrodes since this problem got worse over time. The transformer tends to fail all at once.

    The next problem will be getting it light without it exploding.
    There is probably a puddle of oil in the unit by now.

    I spray flammable hexane or starter fluid into the unit when it does not start and then shut off the breaker as soon as it starts to roar. It then smolders for about 10 minutes. Others suggest to let it burn, but I feel that doing that risks cracking the bottom due to the heat.

    Just make sure the flame is out and cold between each starting attempt.

    PS: Mine is still hesitating for the first second and then still pulsating while it burns. But it works for now...

    Edit: Warning! Do NOT use flammable hexane or starter fluid, like I do, unless you know that you have a good spark and know how much to use.
    With the ignition and nozle working properly the normal burning should light the extra oil.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
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