How to service and tune up a heating systems?

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Old 10-24-06, 02:19 PM
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How to service and tune up a heating systems?

Greetings,
This is my first post on this forum and I hope this is the correct section to post this in.
My heating system is as follows:
Forced hot water oil heat system with baseboard radiators
Utica Star Fire boiler
Beckett AF oil burner
Super Store, off line water tank
oil tank (very old)
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My question(s) are two fold:
1. Is it wise an possible for a homeowner to do the yearly cleaning on the oil burner, boiler, and oil tank or hir in a professional? I'm pretty handy with tools, as I do most of my car/ house repairs and eager to learn this now. What is envolved with learning this?

2. During this spring and summer, we turn the heating system on for showers, and some hot water, but during the rest of the day we shut the system off, basically to save on oil. Is this a wise to do this?

3. Now that the cold weather is here, I'm concerned that we might have some slug buildup in the oil filter. The reason I say this is this morning, I flipped the emergency switch on and the heating system did not start. I went down stairs and the furnance temp was zero degrees. I turned the system off and there was enough hot water for a shower. 15 minutes later I turned it back on and it fired up again. next I removed the cap on the oil tank and stuck a pole inside, to see how much oil there is, about 1/8 of a tank, but I could hear all the grit at the bottm of the tank when the pole hit it. Today we had 150 gal. of oil delivered and I'm going back to check on it after work. The last time we had a cleaning was last 9/05. DOes this sound like the oil filter might be clogged. I looked at it and it seems easy to replace is this something that I could handle?

Thanks
Frank
 
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Old 10-24-06, 02:42 PM
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boiler

An old oil tank is a major liability. If it leaks, you will have big problems regarding the cost of cleanup and legal issues.

Boiler/burner: a homeowner might be able to do the nozzle and filter change each season. Cleaning the boiler is messy work. The problem is you will need either a wet kit or combustion analyzer, and the training to use them, to be able to set the burner up so it burns efficiently and safely. The equipment isn't cheap, and there is a learning curve on the analyzer to be proficient. If something goes wrong, will your insurance cover you?
 
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Old 10-24-06, 02:46 PM
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Combustion work should be left to the pros, Combustion needs to be set up with commbustion test equipment, to not do so is dangerous and will burn more fuel.

You have the wrong burner on that boiler it calls for a model AFG
 
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Old 10-24-06, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by LONDONDERRY
Greetings,
During this spring and summer, we turn the heating system on for showers, and some hot water, but during the rest of the day we shut the system off, basically to save on oil. Is this a wise to do this?
Thanks
Frank
I wonder how much you are really saving by shutting it off. I would think it has to run longer to get up to usable hot water temp because it has been off all day.
I turn by boiler temperature control down to 130 - 150. in the summer. This is hot enough for showers, clothes and dishwashers. I notice that the boiler might come on every few hours during the summer to maintain temperature but it's only on for maybe 2 minutes the most. In the summer months the cold water that comes out of the tap is much warmer than in the winter time so the boiler is able to heat it faster.
I clean my own boiler but have the the tune up done by a pro.
I could probably do it all if I bought an instruction book but I would rather have a experiencd person because they usually know what to look for to prevent any winter breakdowns and I don't want to have one in the middle of the winter.
Your boiler hasn't been tuned in 2 years, the tech must have known what he was doing.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by radioconnection
An old oil tank is a major liability. If it leaks, you will have big problems regarding the cost of cleanup and legal issues.

Boiler/burner: a homeowner might be able to do the nozzle and filter change each season. Cleaning the boiler is messy work. The problem is you will need either a wet kit or combustion analyzer, and the training to use them, to be able to set the burner up so it burns efficiently and safely. The equipment isn't cheap, and there is a learning curve on the analyzer to be proficient. If something goes wrong, will your insurance cover you?

I was considering having the steel oil tank replaced next summer. I don't know how old it is, house was built in 1978, but there is grit at the bottom of it how much is anyones guess. What is the average cost for a replacment and any suggestions on what type of replacement tank I should consider?
 
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Old 10-25-06, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Hello
Combustion work should be left to the pros, Combustion needs to be set up with commbustion test equipment, to not do so is dangerous and will burn more fuel.

You have the wrong burner on that boiler it calls for a model AFG

I looked at the burner and its a AFG.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 05:16 AM
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Like said London. On an oil fired unit it's best to have a pro do the annuals. On the tank, it's going on 30 years old, so it's nearing it's over the hill age.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by mrbizness1
I wonder how much you are really saving by shutting it off. I would think it has to run longer to get up to usable hot water temp because it has been off all day.
I turn by boiler temperature control down to 130 - 150. in the summer. This is hot enough for showers, clothes and dishwashers. I notice that the boiler might come on every few hours during the summer to maintain temperature but it's only on for maybe 2 minutes the most. In the summer months the cold water that comes out of the tap is much warmer than in the winter time so the boiler is able to heat it faster.
I clean my own boiler but have the the tune up done by a pro.
I could probably do it all if I bought an instruction book but I would rather have a experiencd person because they usually know what to look for to prevent any winter breakdowns and I don't want to have one in the middle of the winter.
Your boiler hasn't been tuned in 2 years, the tech must have known what he was doing.
The water temp is set at 175 on the tank. I tried the 130-150 and the water luck warm coming out, so I upped it to 170 and that seemed to do the trick
It take about 5-10 minutes in the summer time for the water to heat up. they we shut off the emergency switch for the rest of the day. Now that the New England cold is upon us, I leave it on. I have a 250 gal tank in april I had a 150 gal in the tank which lasted until yesterday's fillup.


Thanks for all the replys, so the suggestions it sound like a homeowner ca do the filter change at the tank and burner, but the combustion setup and cleaning should be left to the pros. At this point it makes sens to just schedule someone to come in and do the whole job. I got a quote for $99.00 which seems resonable.
My last question, is cleaning the heating system required every year or two years? I assume its based up on how much your heating system is used.

Thanks
Frank
 
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Old 10-29-06, 02:03 PM
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Leave the boiler on. The amount your going to save will hardly be noticable. As for the sludge. Just before you get oil, pour a half can of sludge solvent into your tank which can be purchased at your local plumbing supply. Do this on your new tank as well. You can probably do the service yourself, but a good service includes more than a vacuum, filter and nozzle. I don't think you want to get into changing the pump strainer too. If something goes wrong will your service tech rush right over? That's a gamble not worth taking. Also, your shop vac is not equiped to handle soot. You will need a special soot vac. $99.00 a year for a tech to get sooty and oily is $8.25 per month. Well worth the expense for a good tune-up.
 
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