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Oil-fired furnaces

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Published
July 10, 2009
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I have an oil-fired furnace. What sounds does this furnace normally made?

  • Justas with the gas-fired appliances, the oil burner needs to clear anyflammable vapors from the combustion area before ignition takes placewithin the combustion chamber. So, at the beginning of the heatingcycle, you will hear the motor on the oil burner operating for a brieftime. You will not hear the main blower operating, and you will nothear fuel oil rushing into the combustion area while this is going on

  • Aftera brief time, you will hear the burner light. Since the pressure of theatomized fuel oil is at least 100 pounds per square inch, you will hearthe sound of the rushing fuel. At the beginning of the lightingprocess, you will hear a rapid clicking sound. This sound is thesparking of the electrodes that will ignite the air/fuel mixture.

  • Aftera minute or two, the main blower will start. The temperature within theheat exchanger controls the blower motor when in the heating mode. Atthe beginning of the cycle, the oil burner will be firing, but therewill be no fan/blower operation. At the end of the cycle, the oilburner will stop firing, but the blower will remain on to dissipate theheat within the appliance. This allows the heat exchanger to coolslowly and keeps it from cracking.

I have an oil-fired furnace. What might indicate that there is a problem with my system?

Youshould periodically inspect the appliance and the fuel piping aroundthe appliance. Traces of oil on the floor or on the oil burner areindications that there are oil leaks. Take care of this immediatelybecause there may be a more serious system problem causing what you'reseeing.
Oil burners contain devices thatcontrol the complete operation of the oil burner cycle. We call thisdevice the"primary control" and it allows the burner to operate onlywhen conditions are safe for it to do so. If conditions are not justright at any time, the primary will shut off the burner. There is amanual reset on the primary control that allows a technician to resetthe system, but it is important that he push the reset button onlyonetime. Constantly pushing the reset creates a dangerous situation.There is something wrong with this system.

There is a smell of oil coming from the furnace. What should I do?

Asmell of oil coming from the furnace is an indication that there is anoil leak or that there is unburned fuel remaining in the combustionchamber. If you smell oil, call a professional to find the cause andfix the problem. An oil leak could be the result of a cracked oil line,a loose or damaged flare fitting or oil filter, or a mechanical problemwith the system. A very slight oil odor without any noticeable oiltraces on the floor or on the equipment could simply be the normal“fragrance” of the system.