Low PSI and "flame out" - oil boiler


Old 08-18-14, 09:44 PM
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Low PSI and "flame out" - oil boiler

Hello! I am looking to buy an old house that has oil heat, radiators and a boiler for heat and hot water. I have no experience with this kind of system (or any kind of system actually since this will be the first house I've purchased alone) and have been reading over this forum for a few days to try to get a clue.

I had the home inspection today and the inspector said the system had low PSI (below 5, I think) and that a "flame out" happened when he first turned the boiler on - a flame shot out the front of the thing - although from what I read so far on here I think it may really be called rollout. ??

Also most of the radiators didn't get even a little bit warm.

He thought it may just need servicing and water added. According to the panel it was serviced 4 months ago but he says it really doesn't look like that is possible. He recommends having an HVAC specialist come in and look at it. I'm just wondering if this sounds like it could be a huge expensive problem - huge enough to even go forward with the purchase although I love the house. Name:  boiler2.jpg
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I'm not sure of the type or age of boiler. It's blue, and according to the seller disclosure it's about 16 years old.
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Old 08-18-14, 11:21 PM
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The low pressure is easy unless there is a leak somewhere. As for the flame "shooting out" the front...that is caused by delayed ignition and a proper tune-up of the burner will fix that. Downside is that until a technician pulls the burner out you can't know exactly how much work may be needed.

Oh, that boiler has a "tankless coil" to provide the domestic hot water. Tankless coils are the second most inefficient method known to supply hot water, the most inefficient method is an open kettle on a wood-burning kitchen range.

Much, much more to discuss. Is the fuel oil tank buried? If yes, it needs to come out and be replaced with an above-ground tank.
Old 08-19-14, 06:18 AM
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Thank you so much for your reply.
I think I can ask the seller to pay for someone to come out and look at it, so I guess I will know more then.
As far as the tankless water heater - I was afraid of that! I have been reading these threads. What are my options for better water heat? I think I read on here about "indirect water heat" but when I mentioned that to the inspector he looked at me like I was from Mars.
The tank is in the basement. I'm thinking that if I get the house eventually I'll convert to gas but I guess I shouldn't do that until the boiler is near the end of it's life.
Thanks again!
Old 08-19-14, 12:48 PM
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As for the flame "shooting out" the front...that is caused by delayed ignition and a proper tune-up of the burner will fix that
I would like to also add that there is a possibility of the flue passages inside the boiler being 'plugged'. Oil fired systems must me properly maintained with certain maintenance items on a YEARLY basis. One of these items is a thorough brush and vacuum of the combustion chamber and heat exchanger inside the boiler. If this is not performed regularly, the passages inside can become clogged up with ash and soot, etc.

That boiler needs a very thorough 'going over'!

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