Odd burning in oil boiler


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Old 10-23-10, 09:11 PM
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Odd burning in oil boiler

This is an Olsen boiler with a Beckett AF burner.
Last year I changed the nozzle (same spec) but didnt have a head (f3) handy.
This year I changed the head and the beckett to olsen gasket. I measured (sorta) the electrodes and they seemed in spec.
This year, we're running on the leftover oil from last season so far. Im sure it has some water in it, since there was only about 20 gallons in the tank.
It seems to be running fine, except for a coupla odd burns Ive noticed.
Normally, this unit purges for 10sec or so before ignition. It has always woofed pretty good on startup.. enough to rattle the baro damper.
A few times now, its like the fire starts lazy with some burn sounds and then finally the woof. It runs up to temp and shuts down. I was looking at the flame in the inspection hole just as it shut down. The main burner shut down and yet there continued to be fire in the box. It dwindled down to nothing in a few seconds.

I did not change the nozzle this year, but I did wipe the face of it when I changed the head. Is there anything in the head where you shouldnt wipe the face ??
(Im guessing im spraying oil outside of the fire stream ??)
 
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Old 10-24-10, 09:15 AM
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Hi Dave, knee jerk answer is to replace the nozzle.

I really doesn't take much to damage the spray pattern of a nozzle. They are extremely precise devices...

This nozzle:



had a REALLY crappy spray pattern. Those are VERY small scratches!
 
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Old 10-24-10, 04:53 PM
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In addition to changing the nozzle, I'd suggest checking the pump. It sounds like you have some sort of solenoid on the pump. It's possible the solenoid is not closing properly. Beckett Clean Cut pump?
 
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Old 10-24-10, 05:26 PM
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Trooper's photo of an oil spray disk reminds me of something learned long ago. Never try to clean such a disk with anything except a small, thin piece of pure copper. Anything harder may damage the disk.
 
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Old 10-24-10, 05:36 PM
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Mike, when you say 'disk' I wonder if we are talking 'bout the same thing?

That photo is the face of a Delavan 1.00 80° B oil nozzle... and for $4 I'm just gonna change the nozzle... no point in cleaning anything.
 
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Old 10-25-10, 05:55 AM
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Thanks guys, Ill start with trying a new nozzle today.
Although I havent caught the startup 'red handed' , I suspect the rolling start is after the delayed ignition .. then the whole stream lights up. When I wiped the nozzle off, perhaps I accidentally wiped some gunk onto it ?


I could replace with the same nozzle, but Id like to derate the boiler as per the Olsen manual (this unit comes as a OBC3 with .85 and F3 head.. or as a OBC3D with a .65 and F0 head). The manual refers to a 'kit' for derating, but googling the kit# comes up with nothing. Oddly, I found my exact IOM for the Olsen OBD3 but its instead a Utica BC3 with the same derate info and kit# even.
Ill see what the parts place says today.
 
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Old 10-25-10, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Mike, when you say 'disk' I wonder if we are talking 'bout the same thing?
My experience with oil-fired boilers is not current. Heavy-oil-fired marine boilers used atomizer guns that had removable steel orifice disks or plates at their ends - about 1.5" in total diameter. You pulled out the gun, removed the disk, and scraped it clean with a piece of scrap copper. This had to be done relatively frequently - probably because of the nature of heavy oil. The oil had to be heated with steam to make it flowable - and it probably had tar, grit, etc., in it. No practical way to filter it.

The slightest scratch would render it unusable.
 
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Old 10-25-10, 02:15 PM
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Luckily, the shop I went to didnt have an F0 head. I called a diff shop (that actualy supports Olsen) and they called Olsen. To derate, I need the nozzle, head, a new static plate, and a 'low fire baffle'.

Ill just put a new 0.85 in tonight, see how it goes.

btw, I ran into my tech at the first shop, and he thought a pump issue too (like Grady).. Im hoping they're wrong (lol), a nozzle is so much cheaper..
 
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Old 10-25-10, 09:56 PM
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Put the .85 in. Before I did, I got curious as to why we dont put any thread sealant on the nozzle threads (high pressure oil, short thread length, not a flare seal etc).. so I googled some sites up.
No ref to pipe sealant (so I didnt), but all the sites show taking the whole nozzle/rod assembly out in order to change nozzle.
I pull the burner, remove the head/cap and use a socket to pull the nozzle out of the burner tube.
Could I have bent/broke something inside the tube by just working from the 'outside' like that ?
The inside bottom of the burner tube was wet. There was carbon buildup on the fitting right behind the nozzle, and the 2 week old head/cap was already brass coloured instead of the original silver.
Ill observe some burns..
 
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Old 10-26-10, 01:08 PM
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Ok.. I havent sat in front of it monitoring things but.. there's still fire after the pump/burner turns off, so some excess oil is getting in there somehow.
Ignition seems 'normal' now (no lazy start).
Makes me think of another mistake possibly ?
The F3 head was very tight to the air tube. I had to use a screwdriver and a hammer (well, ok... a wrench as a hammer..) to tap the head off of the tube.
Then again, had to hammer the head back onto the tube. (and repeated this process to change to the new nozzle yesterday).

Could I have moved the air tube relation to the nozzle ? Im not clear on where the air tube is held to the burner assy yet.
My Beckett AF manual shows a Z length from the nozzle tip to the outside lip of the head.. Ill pull the burner again tonight and check that its still 1-3/8"
Would be silly if the nozzle is spraying the back of the head instead of out thru it..
 
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Old 10-26-10, 05:39 PM
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Dave, absolutely NEVER, EVER use any sealant on the nozzle threads! The nozzles are designed for a seal around the perimeter of the nozzle adapter and the nozzle.

Could I have bent/broke something inside the tube by just working from the 'outside' like that ?
Yes. The nozzle needs to be fairly tight (there is a torque spec, but I don't know it offhand), so by simply tighting and loosing the nozzle with a single wrench, it's unlikely that the correct torque is reached. You could easily have a leak at the nozzle/adapter sealing face, and possibly bent something.

ALWAYS use two wrenches... and don't over-tighten! You will 'gall' the mating surfaces and the new nozzles will leak at that point. They make special wrenches (called 'nozzle wrenches'!) that are two 'nested' sockets with handles. I think you can find a picture of one if you google the term. They are a bit 'pricey', but IMHO, worth every penny.

Patriot Supply - Schnozzle wrenchez

Question: how could you ever have adjusted the electrodes if you didn't take the nozzle assembly out of the burner?

there's still fire after the pump/burner turns off
There could be a couple reasons for this... as Grady and your tech guy said, the pump could be poop. They are supposed to cleanly cut the flow. This is called the 'cut-off pressure'. As the pressure drops while the pump is spinning down, the oil should stop flowing around 70-80 PSI or so... (if I recall the number exactly). If the cut-off isn't working, oil will continue to pee out the nozzle ... and then drip inside the tube... (you could easily see very similar symptoms if the nozzle/adapter were leaking).

The other reason could be AIR trapped in the nozzle line. Usually this will get expelled after a few cycles though... but what happens is that the bubbles are compressed when the pump runs, and when it shuts down, the bubble expands and pushes oil out. Sometimes called an 'after drip'. After the burner shuts down, 'heat soak' will continue to heat up the nozzle and line and aggravate this... since now there is no air flow, the nozzle and line will get HOTTER after shut down.

The F3 head was very tight to the air tube.
I have a small slide hammer that comes in very handy for this! But if you use a slide hammer, use caution so as not to bend the head! (like duhhhhhh... )

Take some emery paper and clean the steel tube surface of any corrosion. Smear some anti-sieze around the perimeter of the tube before re-installing the head.

Could I have moved the air tube relation to the nozzle ? Im not clear on where the air tube is held to the burner assy yet.
My Beckett AF manual shows a Z length from the nozzle tip to the outside lip of the head.. Ill pull the burner again tonight and check that its still 1-3/8"
I think the AF is like the AFG in this regard? The nozzle line assembly is held in place by the knurled nut that you see on the outside where the nozzle line connects. There is a metal plate there that is held by a single screw. That plate can be moved back and forth. The nozzle assembly just 'sits' inside the tube on metal 'legs'.
 
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Old 10-26-10, 11:02 PM
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Wow, taking the nozzle assy out via the transformer hole is way less messy work than pulling the whole deal.. lol
No, I didnt use thread sealant.. was curious why not though.seems there would be a compression washer or something there, not just
metal on metal holding back 140 psi.
I removed the nozzle, inspected the landing zone there, cleaned it and put it back on, tightened with a 3/4" and 5/8" wrench as per norm.
I rechecked the electrodes, and they were in spec (previously, I had used calipers via the end of the tube).
Put that all back together, then pulled out the whole burner to check the nozzle face to tube end ("Z") distance.. it was at 1" instead of
the spec'd 1-1/8". Fixed that up, now Im back to monitoring the thing.
 
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Old 10-27-10, 04:17 PM
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not just metal on metal holding back 140 psi.
If you think about it though, adding a washer would DOUBLE the possible leak points, both on TOP and on BOTTOM of the washer...

Re: Z

You mean the nozzle was too far forward?

Did you say you got a fuel pressure gauge? You can check the pump cutoff with that...
 
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Old 10-29-10, 06:39 AM
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Z was too far forward, yes.
Specs show 1-1/8" with the head on, and optionally 1-3/8 with a heat shield.
Mine was at 1". I loosened the nuts at the oil pipe end of the burner assy and slid the rack back there. I did worry that if its a weak pump, I would be making things worse (spraying more oil on the back of the head ) ?
I can detect no lazy start now.. but it still seems like it burns some at the end of the cycle.
That seems to be my next step , put a pressure gauge on there.
Is it ok to mount a gauge permanently ?
 
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Old 10-29-10, 07:50 AM
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That seems to be my next step , put a pressure gauge on there.
Is it ok to mount a gauge permanently ?
CUT-OFF pressure is measured at the NOZZLE LINE output on the pump, and isn't quite the same as measuring the line pressure. What you do is install the gauge on the nozzle line, run for a few seconds and then shut it down. The gauge should drop to something around say 65-80 (don't remember the exact range that is acceptable) and HOLD. If it drops like a rock, or slowly fizzles, it means the cut-off on the pump is bad.

Personally, I would not install a gauge permanently. The pulsations in the oil stream will slowly hammer the thing to death. If you DO opt to install permanently, I would recommend a glycerin filled gauge, and a small valve in the gauge line to isolate the gauge when not in use.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 10:14 PM
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Update:
I was outside the house today but heard the boiler kick on.. the smoke that came out of the vent was like starting a smokey fire ..lol (yikes). It cleared up within 10 secs or so, and then ran clear till after shutdown.. where more lazy smoke belched out. Ok, I have an excess oil problem for sure..
Grady hit the nail .. yes its a Beckett Clean-Cut.
Theres a suntec solenoid on it, Ill check the supply place for a new solenoid/stem and gasket tomorrow.
 
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Old 11-08-10, 08:53 PM
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Solenoid Check

Here's something you can do to check the solenoid:
Unplug the cord from the solenoid.
Disconnect the nozzle line from the nozzle assembly & direct the nozzle line into a container.
Start the burner.
There should be no fuel from the nozzle line.
If there is, the solenoid valve is sticking open or partially so.

BTW: Unless the primary has a built-in valve delay, ALWAYS use the cord with the 4(?) second delay. They make two cord sets. One has a delay & one does not.
What is the model # of the primary control?
 
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Old 11-09-10, 08:03 PM
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Thanks for that quick check-tip Grady. Yep, I have a slow but steady drizzle of oil coming out with the solenoid disconnected.
Didnt get a chance to buy the parts today, hoping tomorrow..
So, bring pump model# to parts house, get gasket, stem and coil , crack the pump apart in-place .. remove stem and screen , clean screen, install new stem and coil, new gasket.
Seems easy enough, or am I missing something important there ?

Oh, and yes.. its a delay on (10 or 15sec) primary. No post-purge though.
 

Last edited by DaveC72; 11-09-10 at 08:05 PM. Reason: added
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Old 11-09-10, 08:52 PM
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Holy bat mobiles !!
I had the boiler off for about 3 hours.. figured Id run it in longer lengths so as to minimize the pre/post burn of the excess oil.
Turned it back on a while ago, checked my flares were tight on the nozzle line, and left. I came back in from the garage a while later,
it had just finished its long run up to temp. But I could hear this rythmic soft whump.. whump.. whump. There was a real fire going
on in the combustion chamber.. just before it flared out, I was shocked to see bright orange from under the unit .

Please tell me this was just some oil that had got way down into the cracks and ended up catching fire finally due to the long run (hot)
and the other excess oil burning off ??? I can kinda picture some oil leaking thru some cracks I guess ??
She's off till fixed now.. hope the little 1500w heater can keep up (it should).
 
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Old 11-09-10, 08:53 PM
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Dave I don't know that a problem with the solenoid will be cured by cleaning and replacing the screen, etc ? Something tells me yer kicked... but first look at this:

http://www.beckettcorp.com/protect/t...55%20R1203.pdf

and make sure you got the right gasket in there!
 
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Old 11-09-10, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by NJ Trooper View Post
Dave I don't know that a problem with the solenoid will be cured by cleaning and replacing the screen, etc ? Something tells me yer kicked... but first look at this:

http://www.beckettcorp.com/protect/t...55%20R1203.pdf

and make sure you got the right gasket in there!
Excellent link Trooper, thanks. Ill give the model# to the desk jockey and see if he does/not give me the correct bypassing gasket or just a standard one.
I was going to replace both the coil and the plunger ('stem') which would be the whole solenoid. I read somewhere on a beckett doc to clean the 'screen' when in there..
I havent seen said screen yet, but if its removable, Ill clean it.
 
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Old 11-10-10, 03:42 PM
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I'm wondering if the wrong one is already in there? Has it been opened since installed?
 
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Old 11-10-10, 04:09 PM
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Its oem, and didnt have this problem until this season.
Couldnt get the parts at the supply house, had to buy the whole pump.. but at $80, not too high over the other parts anyhow.
 
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Old 11-10-10, 05:47 PM
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Screen

I'm sure the screen they were talking about is the pump strainer. I'm not aware of any other screens. BTW, I wouldn't worry much about the gasket. I haven't seen an old style gasket in well over 5 years.

Did you have fire under the boiler? If so, you have a problem which should be looked at by a pro. You are getting WAY beyond DIY for something like that.
 
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Old 11-10-10, 07:26 PM
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Ya, Ill mount the pump, but Im not gonna start it till I get the heating guy over.. let him check it out then set the pressure and the airflow.
The beckett website says the CleanCut is factory set to 100psi, my boiler is set to use an 85x80B at 140psi.

For sure there was a fire inside the combustion chamber.. wasnt woofing loudly, luckily starving for air until it burned off. I didnt catch all
the action, as it had already come up to temperature and shut down by the time I looked at it again. Other than the woofing, it seemed
okay.. until just before it burned off the last, when I noticed an orange glow under the unit. It came and went, so it wasnt like superheated metal..
Im hoping it was just some oil that ended up between the combustion chamber and the faceplate where the burner mounts.. I guess worst case is
that I have a burned through combustion box ?? If my memory is working right, it looked more like a slit of light than say a fire underneath anyhow..
 
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Old 11-11-10, 08:12 PM
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Heating Guy

It's is smart move to have your heating guy look things over before installing the new pump. Be sure to tell him about the runaway boiler situation. If you want to be extra safe in preventing the same thing from happening again, ask him to install an "oil safety valve". Here's a pdf on the installation & operation: http://www.websterfuelpumps.com/pdffiles/osv1.pdf
 
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Old 11-11-10, 10:15 PM
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Figures... I bought a pressure gauge kit, and then my heat tech calls me back finally to say he'll come over tomorrow.
I mounted and bled the pump but didnt let the boiler start yet. Gonna run thru the situation with him first, like you say.
Good to have a gauge anyhow.. was only $50 ('Yellowjacket' brand.. looks ok quality..)

That oil safety valve looks like a cool idea, but I did note in the docs: NOTE: Outside installation may not be suitable where the
OSV® would be exposed to temperatures below freezing.

Count me out there.. it can hit -40(either scale, same temp) here.. lol

Was looking at the parts diagrams for the boiler.. There's a spot where the air tube rests just inside of the inside edge of the combustion chamber, so excess oil running out of the end of the air tube could run down outside of the combustion chamber.. Im still feeling hopeful ..
 
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Old 11-12-10, 03:57 PM
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Osv

The valve could be installed in the line as soon as it comes indoors. Not the ideal place I'll grant you, but better than no OSV at all. I've seen more than one valve in a fuel pump fail & cause a steady drip to a very small stream from the nozzle even when the burner is off. Talk about a mess...
 
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Old 11-12-10, 04:46 PM
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Yeah... even a couple ounces is a PITA... nearby the boiler is fine... and check the install, don't it say something about 'not more than 3' above the burner' ?
 
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Old 11-12-10, 07:53 PM
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Well.. the tech just left. First thing he did was point out that I didnt check/change the shaft bushing thing which had quite a bit of slack in it.
Then we started it up .. there was still a huge load of oil in there.. amazing.. we had smoke coming out of the unit everywhere for a while..
Stack temp shot up high 900's, all the CO etc readings were whacked out of course. He modulated the air shutter to control the burn.. even
had the flame light showing out the bottom housing cracks again. This thing had oil everywhere. Then a real scare.. water came out of the
one front corner. He said he didnt have to mention about what this could mean. (oh.. man..)
As the fire settled down (took 20 mins anyhow), the water stopped.. the smoking stopped.. the flames in the cabinet stopped.. the readings
stabilized.
We ended up with good smoke sample, excellent o2 and co readings.

Could the fire inside have dried out some sealing points, which then sealed back up once the water temp got back up to normal ?
Im wondering if things are going to be good for this season, but it will leak at startup next season..

Amazing how much fubar can come from something simple as a weak solenoid valve.
Im not sure an OSV would help this, as it wouldnt drop to open circuit (open pipe.. aka a leak) with the solenoid partially open
and only during pump running. As long as the pump is turning, it would be presenting a neg pressure in the line (to the OSV situated
between the pump and tank).
I think a system should use the cad cell to watch for fire existing x seconds beyond when the solenoid has been closed. If so, then
lock out (oil control valve fault) ?
 
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Old 11-12-10, 08:38 PM
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Good Questions

I don't understand why there would be water leaking then stop.
Not being familiar with Olsen boilers, I don't know how they are made. Is it cast iron or steel boiler? If cast, are the sections put together with push nipples or rubber seals?

Good thought about the cad cell circuit looking for flame after the burner shuts down. The biggest problem would be determining the amount of time. This could vary depending upon the construction of the boiler, particularly the combustion chamber.
 
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Old 11-12-10, 09:39 PM
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Its a cast iron push nipple type..

The 'oil control valve fault' wouldnt sense on a pre-purge using the cad cell, it would have to be at the end of cycle.
Probably true, depending on design there may be enough heat energy in firebox to trigger a false alarm.
 
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Old 11-13-10, 10:47 AM
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Boiler Design

With cast iron, push nipple boilers there is usually some kind of sealant between the sections. Often it is a rope gasket made of a ceramic fiber material (kaowool). The gasket material probably became oil soaked & was smoldering when you were burning off the excess oil. This explains the smoke & maybe even the glow.

The only thing I can think of which would cause the water leakage would be condensation in the insulation between the boiler jacket & the casting. The only way I know of to test the boiler other than with pressure is to allow the boiler to cool completely, sit for at least a few hours, look for water, then fire it back up while watching for water.

Regarding the "post shut off flame check": I think a minute after shut down if light is still sensed would be more than adequate to justify lockout. Only in very rare cases would more than 30 seconds be needed in my opinion.
 
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Old 11-13-10, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Grady View Post
With cast iron, push nipple boilers there is usually some kind of sealant between the sections. Often it is a rope gasket made of a ceramic fiber material (kaowool). The gasket material probably became oil soaked & was smoldering when you were burning off the excess oil. This explains the smoke & maybe even the glow.
Ya, I cant wait to see what kind of mess the exchanger is in when I clean it next summer. I dont think the glow could have been that tho, isnt the exchanger within the combustion box ? And it seems like the space between the combustion box and the outer shell is full of insulation. If I can pull some of the shell off next summer, I could see what kind of damage might be in the insulation area..

The only thing I can think of which would cause the water leakage would be condensation in the insulation between the boiler jacket & the casting. The only way I know of to test the boiler other than with pressure is to allow the boiler to cool completely, sit for at least a few hours, look for water, then fire it back up while watching for water.
Well, it was running a raging fire and we had the heating system cranked to suck heat away (to keep the burner running).. maybe the startup cold water did something funky with that oddball fire pattern causing condensation.. my system pressure didnt drop , but then again only about 1/2 cup came out onto the floor..

Regarding the "post shut off flame check": I think a minute after shut down if light is still sensed would be more than adequate to justify lockout. Only in very rare cases would more than 30 seconds be needed in my opinion.
You would do a better job writing up the patent on it than I would. Just send me a 6 66'ers of vodka every month and Ill be happy.
 
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Old 11-13-10, 08:18 PM
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The chamber is surrounded by cast but the chamber is pourous & will absorb oil. It is entirely possible part of the chamber became saturated & leaked into the kaowool.

Often (usually?) the bottom of the boiler is not insulated. The insulation goes around the sides, across the top, & on the back. Usually none on the front or bottom. There are some boilers such as Buderus which are exceptions.

I STRONGLY suggest you open the cleanouts & at least take a look. No way, no how would I have put that boiler back in service without at least looking. FYI: Boilers clean much easier & better when hot.

A wadka drinker. Don't know 'bout those people who drink rotten taters.
 
  #36  
Old 01-11-11, 09:55 PM
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update

Boiler has been running nicely.. no water on the floor, no odd burning etc.

Heating system was well underway, but I do intend on knocking the top off the unit to check the exchanger. Maybe I can get some other panels off to check the insulation etc. Summer job.
Seems to me that we're using a little more oil than normal though.
Season end will allow me to compare hdd/fuel data (I have for the last 3 yrs), so for now its just a hunch. One day we ran out of fuel, had to toss in a 5 gallon jug. Normally, this would buy 2 days+ at the current temps. We ran out in 1 day.
Possibly, the tech set the pump pressure wrong ?
Possibly, my exchanger is all full of crud from the fire ?
Something else ?
 
 

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