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Old 02-20-2019, 04:38 PM   #1
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Default Bad fuel oil?

Our home is heated by an oil/baseboard hot water system. The Buderus boiler has been serviced annually by our oil provider since we bought the house and is reportedly in good condition.

It was working normally until about two hours after our January oil fill when it began starting and stopping repeatedly every few seconds. I called the oil company and they promptly sent a service technician out. After several hours (and just under $300) later, the tech had it working normally. He had decided that the mixture was set too lean.

Fast forward to the February oil fill. Within two hours of the fill, the boiler was again starting and stopping repeatedly every few seconds. We have the tech coming back, but I'm wondering if there might be a problem with the heating oil itself.

Is anyone else in the area experiencing similar problems?
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:17 PM   #2
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Default bad fuel oil

Sounds like a problem with sludge in tank that clogs filter after refuel
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:46 PM   #3
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Could be air bubbles in the oil right after the fill. With the oil going in, it foams and causes bubbles. We installed a "Tiger Loop" filter at the boiler that removes all the bubbles. Never had any issues once the new filtration system was installed. Not an expensive fix and takes only an hour to install. Might take a look at that since this issue seems to happen after the oil fills. Google Tiger Loop for more info.....
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Old 02-20-2019, 07:03 PM   #4
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Sounds like your oil supply company wants to service your boiler after every oil fill.
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Old 02-20-2019, 08:33 PM   #5
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A company name is needed to assist others that use fuel oil. Without it, it is a story


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Old 02-20-2019, 09:26 PM   #6
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Another thing to check is what the BURNER manufacturer calls for the oil pump pressure for your specific burner. And have the tech check the screen just before the pump on the burner itself. I had issues before with pump pressure being adjusted incorrectly (too low) by a technician. The new high efficiency burners call for significantly higher pump pressures. Could have been mistakenly adjusted incorrectly at the annual cleaning or the screen not changed. Just some other ideas.
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Old 02-20-2019, 10:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCC View Post
Our home is heated by an oil/baseboard hot water system. The Buderus boiler has been serviced annually by our oil provider since we bought the house and is reportedly in good condition.

It was working normally until about two hours after our January oil fill when it began starting and stopping repeatedly every few seconds. I called the oil company and they promptly sent a service technician out. After several hours (and just under $300) later, the tech had it working normally. He had decided that the mixture was set too lean.

Fast forward to the February oil fill. Within two hours of the fill, the boiler was again starting and stopping repeatedly every few seconds. We have the tech coming back, but I'm wondering if there might be a problem with the heating oil itself.

Is anyone else in the area experiencing similar problems?
Interesting. I had a new Buderus oil boiler installed in the fall at the cabin. It has been fine until it shut off overnight on Feb 6/7th. I got a oil delivery on Feb 6 from Eastern. The installer of the unit couldn't find a good reason for the burner to have stopped firing when they came for a service call.
Who is your oil provider?
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:46 AM   #8
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Default Fuel oil blend?

I read an article on CBS Boston (see Link) that seems to point to a problem with a blend of biofuels. I'm no expert but might this be the issue?
https://boston.cbslocal.com/2019/02/...me-heating-oil...
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Old 02-21-2019, 07:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCC View Post
Our home is heated by an oil/baseboard hot water system. The Buderus boiler has been serviced annually by our oil provider since we bought the house and is reportedly in good condition.

It was working normally until about two hours after our January oil fill when it began starting and stopping repeatedly every few seconds. I called the oil company and they promptly sent a service technician out. After several hours (and just under $300) later, the tech had it working normally. He had decided that the mixture was set too lean.

Fast forward to the February oil fill. Within two hours of the fill, the boiler was again starting and stopping repeatedly every few seconds. We have the tech coming back, but I'm wondering if there might be a problem with the heating oil itself.

Is anyone else in the area experiencing similar problems?
I'm assuming you have a Riello burner... when the cad can't see the flame it will do just that. A lot of times it's a dirty cad cell or coked head. Sounds to me your technician is not familiar with the equipment.
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Old 02-21-2019, 07:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Charlie T View Post
Interesting. I had a new Buderus oil boiler installed in the fall at the cabin. It has been fine until it shut off overnight on Feb 6/7th. I got a oil delivery on Feb 6 from Eastern. The installer of the unit couldn't find a good reason for the burner to have stopped firing when they came for a service call.
Who is your oil provider?
So has it gone off on safety again??
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:39 AM   #11
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Default One time so far

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So has it gone off on safety again??
No it has not failed again since the initial incident.

FYI, I ended up with a Carlin burner on my system at the recommendation of the installation company. I have a "direct vent" system that has no chimney and actively pulls intake air from outside the house. It's my hope that this system will be far more reliable than the previous power vent system that constantly fouled.
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:39 AM   #12
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Question oil content, oil pressure, tiny nozzle hole, fan air, & constant spark =

As the most expert expert ever with more expertise than all the other experts combined in the world history of burning oil for winter heat .... it seems that this too thick blend of bio#2 heat'n oil is absolutely, positively, absolutely, positively, absolutely the problemo here!

For a late model oil boiler/furnace to run good, everything ..... the very high 150-psi pump pressure, the fan driven air volume, the tiny tiny hole in the fuel nozzle which atomizes and sprays the fuel oil, and the fast paced electric zap that ignites the atomized oil to make a continuous hot, pulsing flame need to all be in synch for it to go good.

Is like the oil pump pressure, oil viscosity, tiny miniscule hole in spray nozzle, fan air, and electric spark are four different partners that got to work together to make it happen ..... budda, budda, budda, budda, all together now ...... to make the hot, hot, hot, sputtering flame to make the water hot, or air hot for either the oil fired boiler or furnace.

Could be a different nozzle with a not so tiny spray hole would make the thicker fuel go good, and is not a big deal to switch out the nozzle?
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Old 02-21-2019, 10:03 AM   #13
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I'm assuming you have a Riello burner... when the cad can't see the flame it will do just that. A lot of times it's a dirty cad cell or coked head. Sounds to me your technician is not familiar with the equipment.
Yes, it's a Riello burner. Would you please explain what the "cad" is (my knowledge is very limited).

We have Eastern, and I've been reluctant to mention that because we've been very satisfied with them for the past four years. I'd hate for a comment of mine on the web to tarnish the reputation of what seems to be a very good company.

When the tech was here last month I believe he checked the filter at the tank (it was new in November) and drew some oil from the pipe at the burner. The oil was clear and a normal color - nothing like the stuff on the WBZ clip. Eastern has recently switched to low sulfur oil as is now required for all NH oil sellers.

We're expecting the boiler tech within the next couple of hours. I'll post what he finds.
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:01 AM   #14
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Default Bad fuel oil?

Thank you for the update. I had my boiler serviced this past fall. Replaced the screen and filter


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Old 02-21-2019, 11:30 AM   #15
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Last time I looked, the plumbing dept at Lakeport Hdwe in Laconia had a light green metal display tray of burner nozzles with different size spray apertures that thread on for something like $6.95ea, if you just want to undo the old nozzle and replace it yourself with an adjustable wrench.

Lakeport Hdwe have a very deep plumbing inventory, very deep ...... well, well, well, well!

The nozzle hole is extremely small, and will atomize and spray a fine mist of atomized fuel oil at 150-psi pressure, pumped by oil pump, so oil from cook'n french fries is thicker than oil from distilled crude oil and needs a slightly larger diameter to spray out, good.
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:47 AM   #16
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Last time I looked, the plumbing dept at Lakeport Hdwe in Laconia had a light green metal display tray of burner nozzles with different size spray apertures that thread on for something like $6.95ea, if you just want to undo the old nozzle and replace it yourself with an adjustable wrench.

The nozzle hole is extremely small, and will atomize and spray a fine mist of atomized fuel oil at 150-psi pressure, pumped by oil pump, so oil from cook'n french fries is thicker than oil from distilled crude oil and needs a slightly larger diameter to spray out, good.
Bad advice.....the burners are rated for a specific nozzle GPH size. I would never fool with this. Leave it to knowledgable service folks, not off handed suggestions on a blog by unqualified people. Why would you go from say a nozzle rated at 3/4 gallons per hour to one rated at 1 gallon an hour, unless you like increasing your fuel consumption by 33% just because of a failed light? Just outright bad advice. Call you service folks and request their best technician. Then have them check or replace the CAD cell, check the pump pressure, the pump screens, the fuel filters, the fuel/air mixture, and consider the Tiger Loop install anyway to get rid of the bubbles. Interesting the problem seems to occur after a fill, which leads me to the bubbles issue. Have them do a smoke efficiency test using a digital meter, not the old paper crap. But do not try and service the thing yourself. If the house blows up, try explaining the blog advice of changing a nozzle to the insurance folks. Let us know how that goes !!!!!!!!

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Old 02-21-2019, 12:00 PM   #17
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Yes, except the nozzle aperture or spray hole ratings/hour were determined using normal #2 heating oil, and using the bio-fats oil changes the physical quality of the oil, and the use/hour is slower with the same size nozzle hole, so a larger nozzle with the thicker oil would result in unchanged hour use number.

The nozzle is made using brass, so one can just drill out the tiny thin hole, a wee bit, with a slightly larger diameter, new, sharp drill bit for like $1.19.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:47 PM   #18
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Default Fyi

FYI, a year or so ago, we replaced our oil tank located outside, kerosene. We were able to offload the oil in the old tank into the new tank. The guy who replaced the tank took it away. We intentionally did not take all the oil out to avoid any sludge in the bottom. Once he got the tank to his shop, he cut the tank in half and there was around 3-4 inches of sludge in the bottom of the tank.

Guess we were lucky not to disturb the sludge when filling, although we always called when the tank was coming up on the quarter full mark. Maybe enough of a buffer to not disturb the gunk.

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Old 02-21-2019, 04:03 PM   #19
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For FLL - No biofuel here. Just good ol' low sulfur petroleum heating oil as far as I know. I don't know that Walmart sells it. :-)

The tech was here for a little under two hours. He checked everything over and again said it was getting too much air to the burner. He adjusted the air flow, as well as replacing the screw on filter on the oil line, the oil nozzle, and the strainer (although he said that none of those items looked bad, but the strainer was a little dirty). He said the unit appears to be in great shape.

He checked the Cad cell and said it was fine. He also did a smoke efficiency test (old paper test, but I didn't see tummyman's post until later). He couldn't explain why this only seems to happen immediately following an oil fill.

At any rate, everything seems to be working properly for the time being. If the problem occurs again following the March fill, The next step will be the Tiger Loop filter that tummyman has suggested.

A big THANK YOU to everyone here who offered information and ideas!!
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:12 PM   #20
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Default Oil Burner

If your oil tank is old(sometimes even new) sediment, dirt,and water, collect at the bottom. When you get an oil delivery it stirs all that up and it mixes in the oil until it settles out again (usually in an hour or two). If your burner is running during the oil delivery or shortly after it is sucking in all the nasty stuff that is usually below the oil pickup point in the tank. If you shut the burner off before the oil is pumped and dont turn it on for an hour or two after the delivery you will never have this problem. I bet the tech is changing the filter, screen, and nozzle due to dirt and clogging. Common problem that is easily fixed. Good luck!
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:59 PM   #21
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Related but unrelated: I have been told do not get gas for your vehicle in a gas station while a delivery is happening, or for a couple of hours afterward. The reason is the same: The sludge, water, and whatever else is in the tank that shouldn't be there gets stirred up and could end up in your tank.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:24 AM   #22
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As my tech told me (and just like pre-electronics cars) “fuel, spark, air.” Remember, he said the first tech checked “the filter at the tank”. If it was a sludge problem the the tech would see significant sludge it in that filter so, I would think that moves sludge down the list as an issue. Water would flow thru both filters so that could be an issue that would exacerbate with each fill. (People would be surprised how much water builds up over the years from condensation. In tanks we removed the water bottom was often greater than the sludge layer)


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Old 02-22-2019, 07:43 AM   #23
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Could be air bubbles in the oil right after the fill. With the oil going in, it foams and causes bubbles. We installed a "Tiger Loop" filter at the boiler that removes all the bubbles. Never had any issues once the new filtration system was installed. Not an expensive fix and takes only an hour to install. Might take a look at that since this issue seems to happen after the oil fills. Google Tiger Loop for more info.....
At Tummyman's suggestion I've googled the Tiger loop device, I believe this may be a solution to a long standing issue for me. In the years that I've owned my home at the lake I've always had a couple of no starts every year with the solution being a simple press of the reset button on the burner. I've never associated it with oil deliveries but it's entirely possible that the incidents lined up in time. I'll certainly pay attention to this in the future and if a no start matches a delivery again I'll have the Tiger loop installed.

Thanks for the info Tummyman, I have a feeling it will become quite valuable to me.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:45 AM   #24
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TiltonBB, that might be an issue but, modern gas pumps have filters to remove both sediment and water. When they stick their tanks to see how much fuel is left they are supposed to look for water at the bottom of the stick. If water starts showing above a certain depth they usually call someone to bottom pump the tanks which removes most of the water and some of the sludge.

I guess you could do the same thing with a home heating oil tank but, it was usually cost prohibitive for us to do it when you figured the cost to get people & equipment to and from the site and the time it would take to access a fill hole that allowed you to get a solid probe to the bottom of the tank. That said, I bet there are companies out there that offer the service to home owners.



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Old 02-22-2019, 07:45 AM   #25
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Having an experienced oil burner tech is a must. If they don't have at least 10 years on the job they aren't experienced. Most oil companies send out two guys, one experienced and one in training but when they are busy that inexperienced tech has to go out on his own and sometimes it takes 2 or 3 times to get the problem fixed. I've had oil heat in all my homes for the past 35 years. I've seen the good ones and I've seen the not so good ones. Right now I have a good one but he just got a city job so he does it on the side. For how much longer, I don't know but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:54 AM   #26
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Yup, heat always goes down when it’s cold. I solved my problem by installing a gas fireplace insert and two Mitsubishi mini-split systems with multiple heads. If oil goes out the other two will heat the house. Guess what. Since I did it I’ve never lost the oil burner. Go figure!


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Old 02-22-2019, 07:57 AM   #27
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Yup, heat always goes down when it’s cold. I solved my problem by installing a gas fireplace insert and two Mitsubishi mini-split systems with multiple heads. If oil goes out the other two will heat the house. Guess what. Since I did it I’ve never lost the oil burner. Go figure!


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I'm going to do the mini splits. Who did you use for the installs?
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Old 02-22-2019, 03:14 PM   #28
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I'm going to do the mini splits. Who did you use for the installs?


Installs were done in northern MA. Used 128 Plumbing & Heating out of Wakefield, MA. Great operation & they do work all over.


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Old 02-23-2019, 07:15 AM   #29
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Yes, it's a Riello burner. Would you please explain what the "cad" is (my knowledge is very limited).

We have Eastern, and I've been reluctant to mention that because we've been very satisfied with them for the past four years. I'd hate for a comment of mine on the web to tarnish the reputation of what seems to be a very good company.

When the tech was here last month I believe he checked the filter at the tank (it was new in November) and drew some oil from the pipe at the burner. The oil was clear and a normal color - nothing like the stuff on the WBZ clip. Eastern has recently switched to low sulfur oil as is now required for all NH oil sellers.

We're expecting the boiler tech within the next couple of hours. I'll post what he finds.
That is a device that senses the flame and allows the unit to continue to operate. Your symptom of going off and on continuously leads me to believe it's NOT an oil issue but a hardware issue. Hopefully you'll have someone who is familiar with a Riello burner. Keep us informed.
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:21 AM   #30
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No it has not failed again since the initial incident.

FYI, I ended up with a Carlin burner on my system at the recommendation of the installation company. I have a "direct vent" system that has no chimney and actively pulls intake air from outside the house. It's my hope that this system will be far more reliable than the previous power vent system that constantly fouled.

Direct vent units not set up properly can be worse than any power vented system. Make sure that the vacuum breaker is installed at a location near the entrance of the outside air and left open so it can mix warm air with the entering cold air. Hopefully you'll be happy with this system.
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:23 AM   #31
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Having an experienced oil burner tech is a must. If they don't have at least 10 years on the job they aren't experienced. Most oil companies send out two guys, one experienced and one in training but when they are busy that inexperienced tech has to go out on his own and sometimes it takes 2 or 3 times to get the problem fixed. I've had oil heat in all my homes for the past 35 years. I've seen the good ones and I've seen the not so good ones. Right now I have a good one but he just got a city job so he does it on the side. For how much longer, I don't know but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:31 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by tummyman View Post
Could be air bubbles in the oil right after the fill. With the oil going in, it foams and causes bubbles. We installed a "Tiger Loop" filter at the boiler that removes all the bubbles. Never had any issues once the new filtration system was installed. Not an expensive fix and takes only an hour to install. Might take a look at that since this issue seems to happen after the oil fills. Google Tiger Loop for more info.....
There are thousands of heating systems that run just fine even if the tank is being filled! Your air issue is not fixed , but the de aerator is masking the problem... but it's keeping the unit running. Is the oil line an overhead line?
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:35 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by The Real BigGuy View Post
TiltonBB, that might be an issue but, modern gas pumps have filters to remove both sediment and water. When they stick their tanks to see how much fuel is left they are supposed to look for water at the bottom of the stick. If water starts showing above a certain depth they usually call someone to bottom pump the tanks which removes most of the water and some of the sludge.

I guess you could do the same thing with a home heating oil tank but, it was usually cost prohibitive for us to do it when you figured the cost to get people & equipment to and from the site and the time it would take to access a fill hole that allowed you to get a solid probe to the bottom of the tank. That said, I bet there are companies out there that offer the service to home owners.



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If you have that much water issue you have a real problem! Do you have an outside tank? Any tank let empty during the off season can develop water in the tank from condensation. I would recommend for everyone to put in a treatment with every fill... one that keeps the oil line clean and help disperse water.
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:52 AM   #34
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Default ..... and I coulda woulda almosta been a burner tech .... boo-hoo

Yes, well, as a matter of fact, and you know what, so's how about this ...... back in August-September 2007, I actually took something like a six week course at the New England Fuel Institute ...... down on Summer St in Watertown, MA ....... and can recall how the small, compact electric motor driven, drive shaft that turns the oil pump impeller, creating 150-psi oil pressure, also turns the fan-air fan blades that induce air for combustion into the fire box to feed the oil-electric spark sputtering flame that heats the water system ....... yes, is all coming back to me now ..... in a wee bit of a smelly, light red, dirty, oily blur-r-r-r-r!

These fuel oil systems are like a finely made Swiss watch or something, and the Italian made Riello brand stood out as the highest quality-reasonable price-long life performer ...... but, what do I know, since you definitely get your hands dirty working as an oil burner tech .... so's just fix this ..... make it work good ...... and aye aye .... Lieutenant! .....
....................

Question for the weekend: So, what's the difference between heat'n oil and diesel fuel?

Answer for the week ahead: So, the difference is that there is no difference, except that heat'n oil is colored RED, and diesel fuel is colored BLUE, strictly for federal and state tax collect'n purposes, only ..... otherwise, they is the same product.
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Last edited by fatlazyless; 02-23-2019 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:10 PM   #35
swnoel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatlazyless View Post
Yes, well, as a matter of fact, and you know what, so's how about this ...... back in August-September 2007, I actually took something like a six week course at the New England Fuel Institute ...... down on Summer St in Watertown, MA ....... and can recall how the small, compact electric motor driven, drive shaft that turns the oil pump impeller, creating 150-psi oil pressure, also turns the fan-air fan blades that induce air for combustion into the fire box to feed the oil-electric spark sputtering flame that heats the water system ....... yes, is all coming back to me now ..... in a wee bit of a smelly, light red, dirty, oily blur-r-r-r-r!

These fuel oil systems are like a finely made Swiss watch or something, and the Italian made Riello brand stood out as the highest quality-reasonable price-long life performer ...... but, what do I know, since you definitely get your hands dirty working as an oil burner tech .... so's just fix this ..... make it work good ...... and aye aye .... Lieutenant! .....
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Question for the weekend: So, what's the difference between heat'n oil and diesel fuel?

Answer for the week ahead: So, the difference is that there is no difference, except that heat'n oil is colored RED, and diesel fuel is colored BLUE, strictly for federal and state tax collect'n purposes, only ..... otherwise, they is the same product.
Someone wasn't paying attention... 150 # fuel pressure?
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Old 02-23-2019, 02:29 PM   #36
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Spoke to my son (a MA certified burner tech) about the original post. He said “get a Tiger loop filter system and the problem will go away” and I never mentioned that it had already been brought up.


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Old 02-23-2019, 04:12 PM   #37
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Related advice (probably would not help with the bad fuel problem), I've used Rutland Tank Shield fuel oil additive with our Riello-burner oil furnace for on a forced-air system 15 years. While it's hard to verify scientifically, it seems that it did reduce soot and smell after starting to use it, and we've never had any fuel-related issues. The digitally-measured efficiency tests always come in at 87% or higher, so it must be running clean. Tank Shield is available in a lot of places, check online. The tricky part is guessing when the oil vendor is about to show up, and putting it in the tank just before they come so it mixes well when they fill. Buy a plastic measuring cup and mark the amount typically needed for a fill (usually they deliver about 3/4 of a tank, not the whole tank) and wear disposable gloves. Your oil company may offer to provide it as part of a $100/year "tank insurance" policy, but you can get it yourself for lot less if your tank is in good condition and indoors.

Since water accumulation in the tank is an issue with both tank rust-out and operation, I also put a couple of 2-inch wood blocks under the tank feet opposite from the outlet and filter, to ensure that water and sludge drains down the now-sloped tank bottom into the filter as much as possible and not build up in the bottom and cause rust. That way contaminants get regularly removed from the system each year as part of filter replacement instead of building up in the bottom of the tank and causing problems when they rise up to the outlet level.

Power venter exhausts: Total junk and starve the burner by reducing air pressure in smaller basements/furnace rooms. My original one(s) failed twice (very noisily) in 5 years from heat and rust (what engineer ever thought the device would be exposed to these in burner exhaust???) so I replaced it with a standard insulated exterior metal chimney, plus had a "fan in a can" installed to draw in outside air to feed the furnace instead of burning the expensively heated house interior air. The final step was adding a wall to enclose the furnace room so the smell did not rise up into the rest of the basement and upstairs. (Note: if you add an exterior air supply fan and/or a wall, have the furnace technician re-tune the burner as they are sensitive to air pressure changes). Those changes together solved all the livability and reliability issues, and reduced fuel consumption a bit.

So it takes some planning and effort to make living with oil heat bearable. Most builders don't have a clue about these issues or don't care, my house was built in 1995 so it's not like it was some ancient system in an old house form the coal days lie the one I grew up in.

Due to the initial issues we had, my wife wanted to pay thousands to get a natural gas line run in half a block, and because it is usually cheaper. But house explosions from gas leaks are a regular event in the news (apparently the idea of installing gas over-pressure limiting devices at the meter and on each appliance never occurred to anyone, how stupid is that?), so I'll live with oil, now that I've learned how to mitigate it's downsides.
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