Oil burner -- blower runs, no heat

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Old 01-20-08, 01:46 PM
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Oil burner -- blower runs, no heat

Hi all. My old oil burner (Peerless) worked fine last winter, but when I went to turn it on the other day, it didn't produce any heat.

Last spring, I'd turned it off at the Emergency power switch (the house is vacant). When I turned the power back on the other day, nothing happened. After hitting the Reset button, it fired up after a few seconds, and I let it run for over an hour. But everything stayed ice-cold, even the furnace itself. The blower motor (or circulating pump, I'm not sure which, or both) ran the whole time -- sounded like the usual old furnace sounds, but with no heat being produced.

Any suggestions on where to look to begin diagnosing the problem? Tank has plenty of fuel.
It's a cast-iron hot water radiator system.

I opened the transformer and it looks a little corroded around the electrodes. We had some moist air in the basement this summer... Might that have made for some bad connections? Would those electrodes explain the blower running but no heat?

Thanks for any thoughts on the likely culprits!
John
 
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Old 01-20-08, 05:34 PM
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Blower?

Do you mean the burner motor? If it is continuing to run with no fire, shut off the power NOW.
 
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Old 01-20-08, 05:38 PM
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after you turn the power off, call a technician ! Do NOT try to fire that boiler !!!! If that motor ran for 1 hour with no fire, you could well have a gallon of fuel oil sitting in your combustion chamber ! DO NOT! try to fire that boiler until a qualified technician inspects and corrects the problem!

TELL THE TECH WHAT HAPPENED !
 
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Old 01-20-08, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Grady View Post
Do you mean the burner motor? If it is continuing to run with no fire, shut off the power NOW.
Oh no worries, it's been off since that first hour with no heat being produced...

I don't actually know what part(s) causes the "usual" noise that an oil burner makes... Sounds sort of like rushing air? But it was making those normal, usual sounds when I started it up (via the Reset button); just never produced any heat. I assume it's a blower or burner or circulator that makes that rushing noise, but don't actually know...
 
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Old 01-20-08, 05:45 PM
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Make the Call

If there is no possibility of the house freezing, call a service tech in the morning. As Trooper said, be sure to point out to the tech what was running.
 
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Old 01-20-08, 06:03 PM
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Message received loud and clear. Thanks guys.

Do you know what I'm referring to when I say the "usual" oil burner sound -- almost like rushing air, fairly loud, maybe with a faint gurgle-like sound behind it... Is that the sound of the nozzle spraying the oil?
(Doesn't seem like the circulating pump would sound like that.)
 
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Old 01-20-08, 06:09 PM
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Gurgle?

The burner should not be making any kind of gurgling sound.
Are you sure the burner did not fire?
 
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Old 01-20-08, 06:16 PM
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I struggled with using the "gurgle" word... Maybe a light crackle is more precise. Meaning just a raspy edge to the overall noise. The general impression is one of rushing air or swooshing flame; reminds me of an airplane (quieter, of course).

(I say it's the "usual" oil burner sound because I grew up in a house with an oil burner, and that's what I always heard when it was firing... so I'm assuming those are the "normal noises". The other oil burner that has the problem sounded just as I expected, except even the surface of the furnace itself was cold after an hour of running.
 
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Old 01-20-08, 06:58 PM
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Fired?

I suspect the burner did fire but can't be sure. In any case be sure to tell the tech exactly what transpired.
 
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Old 01-21-08, 09:54 PM
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Thank you!

Wanted to say Thanks guys! You sure had that situation pegged right -- about needing a technician.

Turned out to be multiple problems -- so many that all the bads actually created something not as bad as it could have been --

turns out the electrodes were corroded, so no spark
the nozzle was clogged, so no oil
the flue was fully clogged
the primary control had gone bad, so didn't shut the blower off for the out-of-flame condition

But he said, as much as I didn't feel too lucky with the laundry-list of problems, I really was --
If, say, the nozzle was functioning, I'd have had a few gallons of oil in the chamber, which might have ruined the burner.
If the nozzle and electrodes had been functioning, I'd have had carbon monoxide buildup from the clogged chimney.

He did get a blow-back up his arm while working on it, before he noticed the clogged chimney. I came back into the house to hear the smoke alarm going off. I think that had surprised him a little...

Thanks again... As much as I hated to call them on the coldest day of the year, it was definitely the right advice. Take care!!
 
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Old 01-22-08, 12:07 PM
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Grady & NJ Trooper sure know their stuff!

They helped you avoid a possible disaster!

Ad-A-Boy guys!!!!

Charlie

BTW----Once you get it running the way it is supposed to, we can always help you out with the easier non-technical (professional) stuff here!
 
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Old 01-22-08, 06:20 PM
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Dodged a Bullet

Johntee,
You dodged a MAJOR bullet with the nozzle being completely plugged. That's a rare occurance. Usually the nozzle will clog enough to cause the burner not to light but still spray some oil. If you believe in a superior being, you need to say a whole bunch of thank yous 'cause somebody was sure watching over you on this one. Glad all is well now. Sounds like you found a pretty good tech. Treat him well. They're hard to find.
 
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