Black Smoke and Soot Issues


Old 05-01-12, 08:04 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 4
Question Black Smoke and Soot Issues

We have a Peerless Boiler # JOTW075WPCT with a Beckett Burner AFG-F3 (MP 1192) and Suntec pump A2VA-7116 3 GPH 100 PSI 3450 RPM.
We last cleaned the boiler & replaced the nozzle, screen and oil filter in October. It seemed to be running fine.

Yesterday, my boiler was really loud at turning on twice and then I noticed black smoke coming out of the chimney, so I turned it off. We cleaned out the boiler and flue pipe which both contained a lot of black soot. We then replaced the oil filter, screen and gaskets. The nozzle and electrodes were black and sooty (The black soot is only on the tips of the nozzle and electrodes). We replaced the nozzle, cleaned and sanded the electrodes. The CAD sensor looks clean.

We thought that we must have had a clogged nozzle that caused all of the soot.

When we started it again there was some smoke coming out of the chamber for about 15 seconds before it tripped the reset and stopped. We tried to bleed out any air and confirmed oil flow. We tried it again twice and the motor came on, but no flame.
The electrodes and brand new nozzle are black! Why?

I am thinking that we will need to open the chamber and clean it out tomorrow.
Also, we’ll double check the gap and make sure that we didn’t move the electrodes in cleaning.

Any other ideas on what is going on or what to do?
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Old 05-02-12, 07:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,542
Almost sounds like you are running too rich, and/or burning junk fuel.

I would definately look at fully cleaning everything out. Check your gaps again and once you can get things fired up, check your A/F ratio.
Old 05-02-12, 09:06 AM
wingman55's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: USA
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Black soot

I would say that the burner is not getting enough air. I had a similar issue.

It could be that the motor is on it's way out and not turning fast enough, or maybe the air shutter or air band needs cleaning. Check to see if any of the air passages are blocked with dust or pet hair etc.
Old 05-02-12, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
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Has the flue been checked (and damper adjusted) for proper draft? How about any other combustion testing?
Old 05-02-12, 06:21 PM
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You could make a list here as long as your arm.
Air fuel mix, too much draft, improper fuel pressure, flame impingement to start the list.
Old 05-03-12, 03:09 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 4
Question Update

We cleaned out the chamber (firebox), the flue collector and the front clean out again. We cleaned the nozzle and electrodes. I adjusted the gap slightly, it was only off a tiny bit. We made sure that the air intake and squirrel cage were clean. We have a draft control on the flue that we haven't changed.

The whole system should be clean and clear.
It should be set up just as it was when it was running fine, except that we opened up the air slots a bit more than they had been previously set at.

We turned it on and got a flame again . . . and lots of black smoke.

There was a LOT of black smoke coming out of the chimney outside and a LOT of black smoke and exhaust coming out of the boiler into the house.

Yes, the air/fuel ratio could be off as you guys have said.
I know we could use a professional, I just wish we could afford one right now.
Is there a way for us to check air/fuel ratio ourselves?
It's an awful lot of black smoke for just being off a little.
Is there a way for us to check the motor to see if it's on its way out?

I really wish I could take a hot shower.
Old 05-03-12, 04:33 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 400
If the smoke is coming back into the house, then it could be a venting issue. You say you cleaned out the flue pipe...does that include where it breaches the chimney?

Just an FYI: Back when I had an old oil-fired boiler in my house, one time it started doing the same thing as yours (hard rumbling starts, black smoke backing up into the basement, etc). After a lot of checking of the burner and head scratching, we finally got around to disconnecting the flue pipe from the chimney and found it to be plugged almost solid. Amongst the packed soot and ash was a pidgin carcass, which probably had been "fowling up" the combustion process for some time. After clearing the debris from the pipe, the burner fired right up and everything was back to normal.
Old 05-03-12, 05:50 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
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Lightbulb Reply to Rockledge

You know what? You might be right.

I have been going nuts researching what could be going on and a lot of things don't make sense as to why they would happen all of the sudden with no signs of change with the boiler before hand. The amount of smoke and exhaust seems excessive for it to be an air/fuel ratio issue (especially when increasing air didn't help it).

I didn't think it could be blocked because there is smoke getting through. After reading your response and thinking about it, I realized that it isn't flowing out, it's puffing. It could be just barely getting by something in there. Up until now we had only made sure it was clear at the boiler end.

We will have to get up on the roof tomorrow and check the pipe.

Thanks Rockledge!!! I'll let you know . . .
Old 05-04-12, 03:42 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
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Thumbs up It's Running Again!!!

We got up on the roof and checked the pipe and it was totally clear all the way to the boiler.

After more fiddling around with the setup, we tried it again and got more black smoke and exhaust.

This time after cleaning up the nozzle and electrodes again, we decided to take out the brand new nozzle and try an old used one. It fired up and went back to running clean.


Sometimes it's just the simplest thing that can cause the most frustration.

Thank you all for your help.

I'm going to take a long hot shower now.
Old 05-04-12, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 400
Good to hear you found the problem.

What kind of nozzle was giving you trouble?
Old 05-05-12, 07:57 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 12
New nozzle

Well that's great to hear that you figured it out. It's another ace up our sleeves for figuring out problems.

Hope you enjoy that hot shower!


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