ran out of oil-what to do?

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Old 10-03-13, 02:55 PM
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ran out of oil-what to do?

Ok Mr. Cheap went and done it. Ran out of oil. I tried to stretch my oil until Halloween (donít ask me why Halloween, some kind of psychological quirk?). But (excuse) this is the first time in 12 years that Iíve run out of oil. Iím usually responsible. I have the ďthankless coilĒ so I use oil all summer (a true joy).

I have the New Yorker boiler with an old Beckett AFG burner with the really old 4184D control on the burner. The safety button popped on the burner as expected with no oil. Thanks exclusively to this forum Iíve been doing my own maintenance for years, so I have nozzles, oil filters, and fuel strainers for the fuel pump on hand.

I have dual 275 gal steel tanks in the basement feeding a single oil line to the burner. The oil line is about 30 feet long. The only oil filter (Unifilter 77) is on the line between the tanks. ďOil guyĒ is delivering me some oil tomorrow.

Since I think (not sure) you can have a sludge nightmare when you run out of oil, I was wondering what my best course of action would be. Should I just wait for the oil then hit the reset on the burner and see what happens? Or should I change the oil filter, fuel filter, and nozzle now before I try to reset the burner? Or should I be examining the fuel line first somehow to see if it is blocked with sludge?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 10-03-13, 03:30 PM
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Should I just wait for the oil then hit the reset on the burner and see what happens? Or should I change the oil filter, fuel filter, and nozzle now before I try to reset the burner? Or should I be examining the fuel line first somehow to see if it is blocked with sludge?
You were hoping the oil would go below $3 / gallon like they been saying, weren't you? Yeah, me too...

I guess the tanks are 'bottom feeders'?

I think I would start by changing the filter... how old is it? You should be able to tell by the amount of sludge in the filter if there will be a problem further down the line. But even if there were sludge in the filter, I would still probably just change it and give it a try before digging deeper.

Are you familiar with the use of the 'bleeder' on the burner oil pump?

If your tanks fuel level is above the burner level and rely on gravity feed, you should be able to open the bleeder to prime the fuel line with NOT RUNNING THE BURNER. Might take a little time, but when you start to get a good flow of oil, start the burner up... with the bleeder still open... BE CAREFUL! you WILL get a pretty good spurt of oil out that bleeder, don't let it splash. Slip a piece of rubber vacuum line on and direct into receptacle that won't splash. Let it go until the oil appears clear of air bubbles... the burner MAY time out... push reset and go again.

Once you think all the air is out, close the bleeder and the burner should fire up.

Only if it doesn't, dig deeper.
 
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Old 10-03-13, 05:06 PM
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You were hoping the oil would go below $3 / gallon like they been saying, weren't you? Yeah, me too...
I confess!

I guess the tanks are 'bottom feeders'?
Yes they are Trooper.

I think I would start by changing the filter... how old is it?
About 10 months old. I got a whole passel full of filters on hand, no problem there.

Are you familiar with the use of the 'bleeder' on the burner oil pump?
Yes, I use it all the time when I mess with the oil line when I change oil filter and pump strainer. I bleed the line and fire up the burner.

I think I would start by changing the filter... how old is it? You should be able to tell by the amount of sludge in the filter if there will be a problem further down the line. But even if there were sludge in the filter, I would still probably just change it and give it a try before digging deeper.
Well I just knew it, you would use impeccable logic. Thatís what Iíll do.

If your tanks fuel level is above the burner level and rely on gravity feed, you should be able to open the bleeder to prime the fuel line with NOT RUNNING THE BURNER. Might take a little time, but when you start to get a good flow of oil, start the burner up... with the bleeder still open... BE CAREFUL! you WILL get a pretty good spurt of oil out that bleeder, don't let it splash. Slip a piece of rubber vacuum line on and direct into receptacle that won't splash. Let it go until the oil appears clear of air bubbles... the burner MAY time out... push reset and go again.
That makes great sense, it is in fact gravity fed. I would never have thought of that. Iíll go that route.

Once you think all the air is out, close the bleeder and the burner should fire up.

Only if it doesn't, dig deeper.
Gotcha Trooper, good overall plan as expected . Thanks a lot. Iíll post back with the results.
 
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Old 10-04-13, 01:35 PM
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ďOil GuyĒ delivered me some oil and I changed the oil filter and then tried to start the system. After waiting a few hours after the delivery I really only had a sort of a trickle of oil and bubbles from the bleeder on the pump on the burner. So I turned on the power and then got what seemed to be a good flow of oil from the bleeder line, free of bubbles.

I then very quickly closed the bleeder valve and it seemed that simultaneously (or even slightly before I closed it?) I had flame and things looked good. It ran for more than a minute (maybe even two, not sure) and I thought I had it made when all of a sudden the flame stopped. I cut power before the burner control button popped, and then I got a lot of white smoke coming from the combustion chamber. The white smoke scared the doo-doo out of me since it seemed like it would never stop?

I think the smoke is almost stopped now. I was wondering if I should continue this a few times or am I in danger of burning the house down? OK Ė just checked, and now just a tiny bit of white smoke swirling around in the chamber when I look in with a flashlight. Been about an hour since it started.

btw the oil filter at the tanks that I replaced after the oil delivery looked pretty good. Looked better than it normally does after 10 months? I thought it would be full of black sludge? That seemed surprising.

I donít know whether this has any relevance whatsoever but I donít think I really have the procedure correct for changing the oil filter. I think there is a little bleeder screw on top of the filter. I never open that when I change a filter. I didnít think you had to do that if you are bleeding the oil line at the pump.
 
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Old 10-04-13, 03:20 PM
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Update for anyone who is following:

Suspense was killing me so I tried to bleed the line again at the pump. Turned on the power with the bleeder valve on the pump open, just a dribble after 15-20 seconds. Shut off the power. btw I have a clear plastic tube on the bleeder valve for this procedure.

Repeated the above again 4 more times. Not 1 drop out on the first three tries, then on the 4th try got what seemed to be a good oil flow. I though all the bubbles were out, but maybe not, so I quickly closed the bleeder valve but after a few seconds no flame so I cut the power.

Some white smoke again coming from the chamber so I am waiting for a while to try the same thing again.

Maybe this is just telling me there was a lot of air in the oil line after I changed the oil filter?

Come to think of it, when I put in the new filter the oil bowl was only half full of oil. I just put in a new filter in the bowl and tightened it up. Guess that wasn't too smart - the bowl was half full of air. duhhh!
 
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Old 10-04-13, 04:26 PM
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Maybe this is just telling me there was a lot of air in the oil line after I changed the oil filter?
Yes, that's probably it. That minute or two of run time that you got was probably just a 'slug' of oil with air on either side.

when I put in the new filter the oil bowl was only half full of oil. I just put in a new filter in the bowl and tightened it up.
I usually dump the oil that is in the canister out, wipe with towels to clean up the gunk, put the new filter in dry, and put it back together... BUT, I've got the Tiger Loop installed too, so any air will get dispensed with there.

If you don't do this, some of that gunk is going to make it's way to the burner.

I presume that you don't have the TL on your system? No, I think not, because if you did we wouldn't be having this discussion now!

You are going to need to bleed at least as much oil as the line will hold, plus what's in the filter canister. Maybe a quart or two?

Try it again...
 
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Old 10-04-13, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for your time and expertise Trooper. Before I read your post I just put down my calculator a few minutes ago trying to figure out how many minutes of run time there would be in that 30' oil line. I got a few minutes so I guess that would be somewhere in the ballpark. lol But I didn't include the canister.

I sure need a better procedure than the way I do things! lol I heard you talking about the TL many times. Guess maybe I should look into that.

Off to try again. Thanks again. I'll post back.
 
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Old 10-04-13, 07:00 PM
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Got it Trooper. I think I actually bled a quart or two Ė good call. I thought there was no end to that air.lol Since the boiler was cold I think it took about 10 minutes of burner run time for the Aístat to get the DHW to the right temp.

Well I guess I know the CAD sensor and control must work properly together. The burner control did in fact pop the reset when I ran out of oil. (Guess thatís not a good way to test that however. lol)

Guess Iíll just have to keep an eye on things, I wonít trust anything for a while due to the possibility of sludge entering its ugly head somewhere sometime soon.

I thought the Tigerloop was for a 2 Ėpipe system. Shows what I know. Iíve been reading this as a first step to understand the Tigerloop:

http://www.westwoodproducts.com/imag...ability_US.pdf

Thanks again for your help.
 
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Old 10-05-13, 09:19 AM
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Dad, you may actually not get any real, continuing benefit from a TL in your situation. Since you are feeding from the bottom of the tank, unless you have a suction leaking air in, you shouldn't have problem with air.

Top feed tanks and systems with overhead fuel lines are MUCH more problematic than systems such as yours.
 
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Old 10-05-13, 09:29 AM
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Thanks Trooper. Iím going to do some more reading on the Tigerloop anyway since it is very interesting and would be good to understand.
 
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Old 10-05-13, 09:31 AM
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That PDF contains this quote:

Too large a diameter of pipe in a one-pipe system with a de-aerator may lead to air pockets as the siphon effect is lost in the descending sections of the suction pipe.
And technically, the 3/8" tubing that is mandated in the US is TOO LARGE.

This is quite basically the same problem that we have with air in our heating water pipes. In order to prevent bubbles from forming and collecting at the high spots, we must have enough flow VELOCITY for them to be moved.

Unfortunately, if you use smaller than 3/8" tubing, an inspector will FAIL the install. These codes need to be revisited.

One might argue the point though... saying that 1/4" line will be more prone to blockage from sludge... maybe that's true... but maybe not... wouldn't a higher velocity flow tend to keep the lines CLEANER?

I've not found a good logical reason (that makes sense to me) that codes in the US require 3/8" tubing.
 
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Old 10-05-13, 10:05 AM
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Thanks Trooper. This is pretty complicated stuff. I need to do some serious cogitation here.lol
 
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Old 10-05-13, 10:30 AM
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Zoesdad, from one non-technie to another (and you have helped me), I have also had for years an aging oil tank that feed from the bottom. At least twice I had no heat calls and the problem was a clot in the filter (by the burner). I was told to have oil delivery it at a time where you do not need to turn up the heat for a few hours. So I always had delivery early in the day (and heated the house if needed before that) with no need to turn up the heat for a few hours. The surprise shutdown of heat like this is one of many non-monetary reasons I am switching from oil to gas heating.
 
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Old 10-05-13, 06:00 PM
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Very interesting netmouse. Thanks. Good information about delivery timing. I was pretty embarrassed about running out of oil. My first time. At least it wasnít in the dead of winter.lol

I guess thatís a good point about the possibility of running out of oil, which obviously wonít happen with gas. Yep, youíll never get caught without fuel using gas. And as the experts point out here you have to make sure the oil system is maintained regularly since they are very unforgiving. But I really canít complain, with the help of the experts here Iíve been able to maintain my own system for years with good results.

Yet I guess I would switch to gas if I had the chance. You donít have to worry about storage and delivery, a big plus. The price of oil makes me cringe.lol I donít know whether they are still accessible but there have been some very good discussions on this forum concerning oil vs. gas. You will see an intelligent discussion by very knowledgeable people.

Good luck on the switch.
 
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Old 10-05-13, 06:16 PM
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The one time I ran out of oil, the little measuring stick on top of the oil tank apparently was stuck and said I had lots of oil. Ha! I ended up with a "no heat" call, only to find out the truth.
 
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