Smoke and CO2 tests

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Old 03-01-20, 06:28 AM
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Smoke and CO2 tests

This Burnham V8 oil boiler I think has never been tested for smoke/CO2 as far as I know. It seems to run fine. I do most of my maintenance on it. It was installed 5 years ago and if I don't see any difference in how it's operating I usually don't change the nozzle but I clean it/change filters once or twice a year and it's always pretty clean, just that cone device has carbon build up on it and I always clean all that off.. Is it possible for me to do a smoke and CO2 check, or do I really need to get someone that knows what they are doing to do it? Or is the equipment just too expensive to mess with? It probably would be difficult to get someone out here just to do some tests on it.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 07:41 AM
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You don't mention why you want a test. Generally speaking, there's no need to have equipment tested if its been operating without issue for 5 years. As you're concerned, my suggestion is to purchase a smoke and CO2 sensor and install it higher than and reasonably close to the unit. Alternatively you can purchase a testor for $75-150 but that strikes me as a lot to pay a solution to a problem you probably don't have.

You should also familiarize yourself with how to do a burner color test and how to adjust it.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 08:27 AM
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I just wanted to know it's right. Yes it's been burning fine for 5 years. The old V8 Burnham had an inspection port (that was always falling off) and I could see how the flame looked. This one has a cast port, I've never looked at it. Nothing much changed from the old V8 to the new one that I could tell, it's just the old one was worn out and quit on the coldest day of the year one year.

So that's what testers cost &75-150 but are they easy to use? I've read a bit about it but not much. I guess I was really wondering if changing the nozzles did anything, I've read both ways. Some say don't change it if the smoke test is still good. Others say change it every year. But then other's say nozzles can vary 5-10%.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 12:59 PM
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DT,
The thing that is most concerrning to me is that you are cleaning carbon off your end cone all the time. There should not be any deposit on your cone. What carbon is is unburned oil which means that some of the oil is hitting the cone and not being burned in the chamber.

This is caused by either a worn nozzle, a wrong size nozzle or a bad setup of your burner. You have a Z demension on your burner which lets you move the nozzle assembly back and forth to properly position the assembly. Once the assembly is positioned properly it can be locked down and never touched again.

Once that is done then you can change your nozzle and filter without doing any harm to the burner settings. This is where you need a technician that knows what he doing. This should have been done when the boiler was installed. He will take an efficiency test which includes draft, smoke, stack temp and co2 test.

Getting back to the carbon on the head I mentioned worn nozzle as a cause. Your oil pump pressure is @ 140 psi I believe on that boiler so when it runs it has that pressure pushing oil through that tiny nozzle hole. Due to that constant high pressure the hole starts to get deformed and oil shoots out at different angles possibly getting on the end cone which is a possible cause of your carbon buildup. This is one reason and the most important reason why the nozzle should be changed annually. Wiping off the nozzle does not fix the hole.

I have gotten into this more than I intended to. Hope this helps a little.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 01:19 PM
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That's fine spott. I've always had carbon buildup on the cone, the last V8 was worse, but then I don't think it burned as clean either, there were other issues. I had a commercial outfit come in and install this boiler. Far as I know they left it at the factory settings, I never saw anyone do a test of any kind on it. The carbon build up I'm talking about is not difficult to remove, it's not a lot, mostly just a covering of the serrated cone, mostly like soot. There may be a few spots where I flake off a small chunk. I can't say it's changed in 5 years, but I think the first few years I did change the nozzle. I bought a handfull of them early on.

I do not wipe off the nozzle, I take the thing apart (I take the whole assembly out) and clean it with brake cleaner or carb cleaner, carefully. They are always spotless when I take them apart and I wonder why I did that other than habit. Burner always seems to run the same before and after. Actually I've never had such a clean burning boiler as this one.

But I would like to know it's right or at least nearly right. I'm getting to the age now where I really don't want to do much of this stuff any more and am willing to pay someone to take care if it if they do it right. Seems like if you ask too many questions out here in the country they don't want to deal with you. Get kinda arrogant.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 03:40 PM
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I don't know of any combustion analyzers that are near $75-150 - you might be off by a whole order of magnitude. Google for yourself. You might want a printer to go with the analyzer. There may be additional costs - regular recalibration of the equipment and replacement of sensors. Then, you will need some training. You said that it may be difficult to get a tech to come to you for a combustion test. Where do you live? I recently had a local service company come and run a combustion test - $85. Maybe you could wait and combine it with some additional plumbing or HVAC service?

Testo is one brand. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 04:17 PM
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Seems like all the oil delivery companies around here have contracted out all their service. There are no more locals doing it unless they're in the business for themselves.I'm about 60 miles west of DC in a very rural county. there's got to be someone out here I can trust. Nearly everyone I talk to about the local shops have not been very satisfied and they don't even know how to ask a question.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 04:32 PM
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They are out there. You just need to find them. You said: "There are no more locals doing it unless they're in the business for themselves."

Those are probably the ones you want! Check their references.
 
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Old 03-01-20, 05:52 PM
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There is a real local guy near me and he came recommended, but I wasn't impressed with him. I offered to let him put in the boiler and he never got back with me. It might have been to much for him, I think he works alone. The company that did it sent out 3 guys and I was without heat 1 night. But I was having to start the boiler by igniting it myself. That gets old.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 07:04 AM
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Oil burners are easy to maintain for someone with basic mechanical skills. Keep them clean, adjust for zero smoke, replace filters and parts when necessary.

For the DIY.er with oil burner, the easiest and best way to check smoke is with a $120 smoke tester. It is an air pump with filter paper that shows smoke or lack of it.

If test shows smoke, reduce air until zero smoke. If first test shows no smoke, reduce air until some appears then reduce air to zero smoke.

For oil burners CO2 test is not necessary.

https://www.grainger.com/product/9LH...g!438000512349!

https://www.grainger.com/product/9LH...g!438000512349!
 
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Old 03-02-20, 08:02 AM
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I believe doughess meant to say: If test shows smoke INCREASE air until zero smoke. If first test shows no smoke reduce air unil some smoke appears then INCREASE air to zero smoke.

Wet kit combustion analyzers are usually available pretty cheap on e-bay. Fluid usually has to be replaced every year or two.

I eliminated the cabon build up on my burner head by changing the primary control to an R7284U1004 and set it up for a 2 minute motor off delay (post purge). In order to do this, you have to run a constant hot wire to the control.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 08:33 AM
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I don't know of any combustion analyzers that are near $75-150 - you might be off by a whole order of magnitude. Google for yourself. You might want a printer to go with the analyzer. There may be additional costs - regular recalibration of the equipment and replacement of sensors. Then, you will need some training. You said that it may be difficult to get a tech to come to you for a combustion test. Where do you live? I recently had a local service company come and run a combustion test - $85. Maybe you could wait and combine it with some additional plumbing or HVAC service?

Testo is one brand. Good luck.
I agree with you about the cost of a combustion analyzer but the OP was about CO2 and smoke so all he needs for that is an air quality tester which goes for $75-150.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 10:43 AM
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Thanks to Grady for correcting my text. While I am big on the R7284U modern controller it is not a cause or solution of carbon build up.

As the name suggest “post purge” after flame stops, brings in fresh air to send remaining combustion gases in boiler up and out of chimney. Post purge is big factor improving residential air quality. High recommend for homes with occupants that have respiratory issues.

Air mixture is primary factor in carbon build up on a burner with correct retention head and nozzle assembly positioning,

First reduce smoke to zero then deal with other factors.

Wet Kit analyzers indicate CO2 levels which is not a measure of smoke. After getting smoke tester I stopped using wet kit.
 

Last edited by doughess; 03-02-20 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 03-02-20, 11:53 AM
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Well, that's all good info. The controller on mine has a 15 second pre and post run. Those smoke pumps were what I was looking at. I didn't think it was magic. I'll tell you though the smoke on the cone with this boiler is a lot less than I had with the last one, but it was starting to have problems. It always seemed a bear to get it to run without some smoke. Thanks.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 04:21 PM
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Post Purge with Electric Stack Vents

Burner/boilers using post purge and electric stack damper/vent require way to keep it open during purge. Easy solution is to wire 120 volt relay coil to burner motor with relay contacts activating vent go keep it open.

The Honeywell-R7284U1004 is activated with 120 VAC to red limit terminal. Wire that to one 120 VAC relay coil and second relay to burner motor. Wire both relays contacts in parallel to activate stack vent.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 05:38 PM
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On my boiler (Scotch Marine design) I found simply by increasing the post purge to 2 minutes from 30 seconds, the carbon issue on the burner head went away. I attribute that to cooling the chamber somewhat & reducing the heat reflected back on the burner. My boiler has no refractory in the chamber.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 05:59 PM
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Now you guys are getting past me. I don't have a controlled damper/vent. It's just the balanced one above the boiler. I did order a smoke tester pump. We'll see if I can make any sense of it. I should open the inspection hole and look in there some day also, maybe when I get the tester and we'll see what's up.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 06:04 PM
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Hope you ordered some smoke paper. If you need some help knowing how to do a proper smoke test, just holler. We're here.
 
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Old 03-02-20, 06:49 PM
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Supposedly comes as a kit with paper and chart. Keep you posted.
 
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Old 03-03-20, 06:18 AM
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A good way to protect burner heads from excessive heat is with a $8.99 Burner-Head-Protector. They are very delicate so recommend buying a spare.

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Lynn-Man...RoCgXQQAvD_BwE

And ... Electric stack damper/vents cut fuels costs. The reason they are widely used on residential and commercial systems. See one on top in this picture of new Weil-McLain:

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Weil-Mcl...hoCPkQQAvD_BwE

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Field-Co...per-11703000-p
 

Last edited by doughess; 03-03-20 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 03-06-20, 09:15 AM
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Got the smoke tester from supplyhouse, a bit more than $100 delivered. Came with paper, chart and instructions. Appears to be German made. Plastic pump with metal parts for the nozzle Now it says to use 10 strokes, I'm assuming full strokes, not half or something between of course. It also recommends 'to use a cone for the smoke probe'. But it's supplied with just a pipe, about 3/8" diameter. I haven't measured it.

Now where would be the best place for the test port? I've got a 2.5' vertical run out of the boiler with the balance draft control just 1' above the burner and then another 2.5' horizontal run to the block flue.
 
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Old 03-06-20, 10:29 AM
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You want to measure smoke as near the boiler as possible, preferably about one pipe diameter from the breach.

Yes, it's 10 full strokes. If there's any question in your mind as to "is that actually zero smoke", give it 20 strokes. The cone is used as a stop. They often have a small thumb screw. The end of the probe should be as near center of the pipe as possible.
 
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Old 03-06-20, 11:58 AM
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Ah, so the cone is a stop on the inserted probe that keeps it at or near the center of the flue? I could just as easily mark it, but perhaps while thrashing around trying to pump, it would be easier just to have a stop on the probe. I'm sure I could easily come up with something to keep the probe stable while pumping.
 
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Old 03-06-20, 12:26 PM
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Keeping the probe in the center (+/-) is the idea.
 
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Old 03-06-20, 02:35 PM
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My smoke tester came with a brass tube probe 5/32” OD to go through typical 1/4” vent test hole.

Tube is shaped liked double tailed question mark with ends at 90 degree angle. One end 3” long goes into vent hole. Other end to hose. Works out to be self centering in vent. Just hangs there.

When pulling pump handle, important to let all air through paper (zero handle tension) before next stroke. Ten strokes is standard. Location of hole from boiler is not too important. Smoke is smoke.

I mark small size numbers on edge of filter paper, 1 to 10, every 1/2" from end to end. Helps avoiding over lapping test spots.
 

Last edited by doughess; 03-06-20 at 04:36 PM.
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