Intermittent oil burner ignition

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Old 01-05-15, 11:06 AM
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Intermittent oil burner ignition

I seem to have an intermittent problem with my oil burner. Last week, while I was on vacation, I got a call from the person who was taking care of our cats. The house was 45F inside. I directed her to the oil burner and had her hit the reset. She said it fired right up. The next day she said she had to reset it again. The day after that I returned home and I had to reset it. The flame didnít look or sound great, so I waited for the house to heat up. Then I replaced the filter and nozzle. I had the replacements on the shelf. After that the flame looked fine, bright and yellow. Well this morning, the safety had tripped again. This time, when I reset it, it didnít fire right up. The motor spun up ok, but it didnít light. Of course I concluded I must have messed up, so I checked the output from the fuel pump, but that was fine. The nozzle looked fine too. I gave the igniter the screwdriver test and it had a really good spark. So I put it all back together and it fired right up. It smoked a bunch at first, but then transitioned to a good, bright yellow flame.

So while I still could have done something wrong changing the filter and bleeding the air out, Iím starting to think that what I did didnít fix the original problem. My thought is an intermittent problem is more likely electronic than mechanical. So Iím leaning toward an issue with either the igniter or controller. Of the two, the igniter is cheaper. So Iím thinking thatís the one to replace if I need to guess. I think my next step is taking the controller off and checking that all the wire connections are tight, particularly the ones going to the igniter. Iím thinking flipping the igniter up does disturb the wiring. What else should I be checking? What else could it be?

System details
Weil-McLain hot water boiler. (WGO3 I think)
Beckett AFG oil burner with Carlin igniter and suntec pump @100psi
Delavan 1.00 90 B nozzle
Roth oil tank, 2/3 full, about 8 years old, sitting inside on same level as boiler.
Single overhead line from tank to burner
Firomatic c40(?) filter
 
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Old 01-05-15, 04:19 PM
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A 90* nozzle? Beckett now specs a .85-70*B (Hago prefered but Delavan is ok) @ 140#. Did you also replace the pump screen? If not, you need to at least look at it. When I service a burner with a Suntec pump, the screen gets replaced if it has anything at all on it.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 05:00 PM
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If you do remove the controller check for bad solder joints on the bottom of the board.
Geo
 
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Old 01-05-15, 07:19 PM
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A 90 degree nozzle is not what I am use to seeing on a Beckett , usually on the older it is 80 degrees with 70 degrees now the normal from what I have encountered. A 90 degree nozzle should be causing the oil to impinge on the flame retention head and show up as carbon on the head .When you changed the nozzle did you check the head to make sure it was clean ,no carbon build up on it .Does the boiler manual call for a 90 degree B nozzle to be used with a Beckett AFG burner?
 
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Old 01-05-15, 08:25 PM
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My boiler is from the late 90's. The manual for my boiler calls for 100psi and lists several different nozzle options. The 1.00 90 B is one of those options. That's the same type that's always been in there. (I've downloaded a newer manual for the same boiler and it does call for lower flow and narrower nozzles at 140psi. Should I think about changing up?)

I didn't replace the pump screen. I didn't have one. Still the fuel flow rate is good. I didn't think a fuel flow obstruction could cause an intermittent issue. Am I wrong and could it?

I did check the connections and most everything looked good. The only thing I found was the igniter mounting screws were loose. It looks like the igniter picks up ground at one of these screws. Does the igniter need ground to work? I also found the gasket under the igniter does have one small section missing. So I'll need to either replace that or use it as an excuse to replace the igniter.
 
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Old 01-06-15, 10:17 AM
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The higher pump pressure of140 psi results in smaller and more oil droplets , but also increases the amount of oil into the chamber per minute. To change nozzle size or pump pressure test equipment must be used. No the igniter does not have to be grounded, Things to check are , motor to pump coupling, proper electrode settings, clean surface of flame retention head, proper operation of barometric draft regulator , CO2 should be 12.5 . smoke spot 0, over fire draft to spec. , stack temperature 350f to 450f ,cade cell reading , wire connections , clean heat exchanger, check flue with mirror for obstructions
 
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Old 01-06-15, 01:28 PM
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If W/M specs the 1.00x90*B as an optional nozzle & you've had good performance with it, I wouldn't change.

If when you reset & the burner fires but the flame is really yellow transistioning to bright & light yellow, you are getting fuel but no ignition. I agree with Saves that you shoud check the electrode settings.

The electronic ignitors can be quirky. I've actually had a couple give me a good spark when flipped back yet no spark when closed. A clean ground can't hurt.
For a Beckett AFG the settings should be as follows: Electrode tips should be 5/16 to 7/16" above nozzle center; they should be 1/16" ahead of the nozzle face; & the gap should be 5/32".
 
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Old 01-07-15, 12:42 AM
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I had a WGO-4 with Beckett and started getting intermittent ignition. I don't know how many times I had the electrode assembly out and checking measurements.

First was from poor draft in chimney not getting correct airflow at start. Usually happened during the summer when central air was on. House was decently air sealed and it would actually pull air down through chimney. You could here the "whistle/howl" coming under basement door. That got fixed by adding a new pump with solenoid oil cut off, honeywell control with pre and post purge, and a field oil vent damper.

At a different time it started intermittent ignition just after a tune up. I took the assembly out multiple times checking and rechecking. Replaced electrodes, checked all eyes etc. considered new coil you name it. My drop light broke so I got a new one that was much brighter and then I saw it. The locking screw that sets the "Z" dimension had come loose. The ne w light reflected all the half circle scrapes from the screw. Everytime I loosened the knurled nut to nozzle oil line it moved back slightly. I was like 1/4 to 1/2" back to far from end of air tube. I was not getting correct atomizing with the air flow. It is not something that is always checked that I know of as it usually doesn't move.

Beckett T501 multipurpose gauge

Beckett T501 is the metal gauge that I bought at local plumbing supply. The also make a plastic version now I think that sticks on nozzle. Not sure how that works as now I have Riello at new house. With your WGO and the swing away door it is pretty easy to access. Swing door open, metal gauge against end of air tube and move nozzle until it touches. Also has the measurements for the electrode settings etc.
 
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Old 01-07-15, 06:22 PM
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That pastic gauge isn't worth 1 Russian Rubble. Don't even think of using one. The second best place for that thing is in the combustion chamber of a running boiler. I won't mention where I think the best place for it is. If NJ Trooper reads this, he might not be as nice as I.
 
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Old 01-07-15, 06:34 PM
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If NJ Trooper reads this, he might not be as nice as I.


You think he jests! That's exactly what happened to the one I had! It really went up in flames!

Stick with the T gauge.
 
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Old 01-07-15, 06:38 PM
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One thing you want to be careful of... even the tiniest little scratches on the face of a nozzle can mess up the spray pattern something awful.



This nozzle had a really bad spray pattern. Those scratches are microscopic!

Handle nozzles with care................
 
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Old 01-08-15, 07:46 AM
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Beckett T501 is the metal gauge that I bought at local plumbing supply.
You also get one of those T501 gauges in the Beckett Electrode Kit. So I have 2 such gauges. I use them both as a way to double check my settings -yuk yuk yuk
 
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Old 01-10-15, 02:45 PM
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OK. Thanks. I'll pick up one of those gauges, the metal variety, and probably a new set of electrodes. I'm inclined to put a new ignition transformer on it as well.

It ran fine for 5 days, then tripped the safety again. When I reset it, it started with a big puff of smoke. Then it ran fine. I'm thinking that means the last time it tried to start, it was spraying fuel but not lighting it, so I'm really thinking the problem is electrical in nature.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 04:02 AM
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Did I say electronic. I meant fuel, definitely fuel. This morning it wouldn't restart. I couldn't get fuel to flow from the pump. The couple is good. I disassembled the pump and it too looked good. I pulled fuel through the line with a vacuum pump. It flowed, but seemed to take more to pull it than I thought. I think there's a check valve in the line. How much lift can a pump do. Is 5-10 in Hg too much?
 
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Old 01-11-15, 09:09 AM
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If you find a check valve, remove it. Check valves should never be installed in a one pipe system. Suntec says a maximum of 6" Hg for a one pipe system. Personally, if there is any lift I suggest a single line from the tank & a Tiger Loop.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 09:21 AM
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Roth oil tank...
Single overhead line from tank to burner
Are you using that 'floating pickup' that Roth thinks is such a great idea? Or do you have a copper tube down into the tank say 6" from the bottom?

Overhead lines can be problematic with gas bubbles forming above.

Our codes that call for 3/8" tubing are IMHO a problem in that the velocity of the flow in those large lines is not fast enough to move bubbles through the tubing. Quarter inch tubing is plenty large enough for the flow that the burner needs. There is of course increased chance of plugging a smaller line with sludge... catch 22...

Suntec A2VA pump?

Lift Up to 8 Feet in 1 Pipe System, Up To 14 Feet in 2-Pipe System
Do you have a "Tiger Loop" installed?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9mlk5lRSIk

Grady beat me to it!
 
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Old 01-11-15, 09:40 AM
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The general idea of that video is good but I did see a couple of problems:
First, as I mentioned before, there should never be a check valve in a one pipe system.

Secondly, and I realize it had nothing to do with the fuel system but, the circulator is installed wrong unless the system pressure is high. The motor is supposed to be parallel to the floor.
Taco-Hvac
 
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Old 01-11-15, 09:43 AM
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I actually only watched the first few seconds... I'm gonna find another!

Grady:
there should never be a check valve in a one pipe system.
Barry:
I think there's a check valve in the line.
So if there is, it should be removed then...
 
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Old 01-11-15, 09:50 AM
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How about this one? He may be drunk...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQnuWvCzRpA
 
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Old 01-11-15, 12:39 PM
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That guy is wrong too. Here's Suntec's manual: http://www.suntecpumps.com/PDFs/Inst...e%20Manual.pdf
See page III-5 for piping. The return line is supposed to go down in the fuel as well.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 02:41 PM
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Well I was just ready to post my uneducated opinion that I thought that was a very clear well presented mini-tutorial which seemed to make a lot of sense, but might have some technical details wrong. But it looks like Grady found a flaw. I think that dude definitely used some mood enhancer to prepare for the presentation.

However, I was going to give it a 10 on a scale of 1-10, he didnít mumble or fumble or jumble (lol), and it seemed to make a lot of sense. But I guess because of the flaw it has to be downgraded from a 10 (lol).
 
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Old 01-11-15, 02:59 PM
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There's a 3/8 copper line into the tank and all the way to the oil burner. There's a fitting above the tank that I never knew what it was. It has 3/8 flare connections in and out and a ~3/4 hex on the top. When I wasn't getting flow, I first tried to blow out the line, but that didn't work. I then tried vacuum and that did. So there's either a check valve or something acting as a check valve in the system. What else could that fitting in the line be if not a check valve?
 
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Old 01-11-15, 03:09 PM
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It is likely a fusible check valve.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 03:10 PM
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Wonder if it could be for bleeding the line? Guess the experts will sure know.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 03:14 PM
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What else could that fitting in the line be if not a check valve?
Take a picture?.......................
 
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Old 01-11-15, 03:14 PM
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There is one at the bottom of this link (I think,lol). Sure fits the description. What took you so long to figure it out Grady? (lol)

Beckett Corp. | Products
 
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Old 01-11-15, 03:20 PM
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Like this Barry?


image courtesy beckettcorp.com

............................
 
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Old 01-11-15, 04:29 PM
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Yes, that's it. The upper one. Is that a fusible valve or a check valve?
 
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Old 01-11-15, 04:31 PM
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Not sure... the webpage just calls it a check valve, but it's on the 'Fir-O-matic' page...

Grady might know for sure...

You could easily replace that with this (the bottom one):



https://www.patriot-supply.com/produ...OMATIC_B_105_F
 
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Old 01-11-15, 04:45 PM
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Yep. Use the valve Troop linked to. Take that fusible check valve & use it for a sinker or almost anything except in a fuel line.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 06:30 PM
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Do I need a fusible valve over the oil tank? It's no where near the oil burner. I replaced the check valve with a flare-flare connector. Oil flows better when I pull a vacuum on the line, but the pump still isn't putting anything out. I guess it's a new pump tomorrow.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 06:50 PM
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It would be preferable to install a fusible valve ahead of the filter, near the burner.

As long as you are replacing the pump, it's a good idea to replace the coupling at the same time. They're only a few bucks & can save you the hassle down the road.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 09:11 AM
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OK. So I replaced the pump, replaced the coupling, bled the air, and it started right up. I already had a fusible valve ahead of the filter. So all is good. Or at least it seems that way.

I did put a pressure gauge on the pump and confirmed it was set to 100 psi. I didn't have to monkey with that setting. I didn't re-check the smoke or CO2 though. Should the factory pressure settings be close enough, or do I need to re-check those now.

A couple interesting notes: I had always thought the oil burner was pretty noisy. The last few weeks it had gotten quieter. Well now it's noisy again. Also, with the old pump, I was never able to bleed the air with the bleed valve on the pump. Nothing ever came out there. I had always bled it by routing the copper line out of the pump to a soda bottle. I always just figured I was doing something wrong. Well now, with the new pump, the bleed valve works. I guess the pump had some issue all along.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 12:08 PM
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A little trick which sometimes help to quiet a burner is to loosen the pump bolts a bit & try moving the pump. Sometimes just tightening the bolts in different order will reduce the noise.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 03:03 AM
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I went through and tightened every fastener I saw. I never thought to loosen any of them first. I'll give it a try.

Thanks all for the advice.
 
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Old 01-16-15, 11:55 AM
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So the plot thickens. This morning the safety tripped again. This time it fired up when more or less right away when I hit the reset. There was maybe a two or three second delay from when the motor started until it lit. So of course I'm wondering if I have one or two problems. At this point I have a new oil pump and coupling, new nozzle and filter, and oil flowing freely from the line. I feel like I've eliminated everything on the fuel side. The only other thing I can think of is if the fitting above the tank. If it isn't air tight, the line could loose the siphon effect. But I made that good and tight. Leaks anywhere else should cause oil to leak out, not air to leak in.

So I think I'm back to ignition I think. Either that or the photo cell. My plumbing supply didn't have that gauge for setting the electrodes, so I mail ordered one. I'll have it soon and be looking at things again when I do.
 
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Old 01-16-15, 01:12 PM
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If you didn't have to bleed the pump, it's not an air problem. If you did, take the flare union apart & check the flares as well as the faces of the fitting itself. Any small scratches can cause an air leak.

How did the flame look when you got it fired? Any excess fuel in the chamber as indicated by an abnormally yellow flame? You can check the cad cell with an ohm meter. I like to see <800 ohms after the burner has been fired 15-30 seconds.
 
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Old 01-16-15, 09:45 PM
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I didn't need to bleed it again. It fired up after just pushing the reset.

The flame looks good to me, but I'm not an expert and I don't look at too many of these. I thought bright and yellow is how it's supposed to look. How do I tell if it's too yellow?

I thought it would turn off with the cad cell removed. How do I keep it running to make that measurement? Is it as simple as shorting the contacts on the controller?

Thanks.
 
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Old 01-17-15, 09:17 AM
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Disconnect the cad cell wires, fire the burner, & quickly install a jumper between F-F. Any kind of wire or even a paper clip will work.
 
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Old 01-17-15, 02:36 PM
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It's the ignitor!!!

I really really think you should install a new ignitor, they had many many bad units in the past, the new ones have been nearly flawless in performance. I'm willing to put $$ on it.
 
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