Oil Burner Electrodes Questions


Old 02-19-03, 06:24 AM
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Oil Burner Electrodes Questions

I have two questions regarding oil burner electrodes.

1) What is a good solvent to remove the black soot from the white porcelan insulators? It seems in some cases, just wiping them with a rag with do it and in other cases the soot is baked in.

2) I noticed some electrodes have nice dulled points (like knitting needles) and some are flattened stumps. How does this affect performance (or should I say efficency) provided their spacing and distances from the nozzle hole are within spec. I tend to think the pointy electrodes yield better performance. Is it OK to reform and sharpen stumpy electrodes ?

Thanks in advance

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Old 02-19-03, 10:26 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Mountain Williams Missouri
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oil burner

#1 On electrodes I find that with a dry rag you can clean them up ok.When the black is as you say baked in or there are like black lines in the ceramic insulators put new ones in.I have been able to wrap them with tape right where the clamp is just to get by if I didnt have the right new ones to put in at that time.

#2 I dont find that it makes any diff what the point tips are.
As long as the gap and height are set right for the nozzle that is in the gun. Dull or round points and sharp points yes flattened ones no. Also that you have a good transformer. If you look when the gun comes on the blower will blow the spark out in the oil to light it. ED
Old 02-19-03, 10:41 AM
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Thanks Ed for your speedy and detailed reply.

You are a walking HVAC encyclopedia as always.

Best Regards TheZman
Old 02-21-03, 06:18 PM
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I agree with Ed, the electrodes will work OK either way. BUT, I think you will find that the blunt ones hold the setting longer. The pointy ones tend to burn back and get wide pretty quick. Carlin used to use a very thin electrode and they burned up in a few years.

Also, you can use carb cleaner to clean up the porcelains but it isn't good for your skin and you want to get it all off the porcelain before firing the burner. It does help spot a crack or crazing if you suspect that.
Old 02-22-03, 05:04 AM
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Hello KField,

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Your response makes perfect sense.

I noticed once (with the oil pump and fan motor turned off) that the electrodes get extremely hot just with the arcing high voltage.

It makes sense that a smaller arcing surface area would get worn away faster than a large arcing surface area, under these conditions.

Best Regards

Old 02-22-03, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,816

The time it takes to clean them, is self defeating, it's like when mechanics used to sand blast spark plugs. They're cheap. Reillo, I believe doesn't want any filing of the tips, as many mechanics want to do. If your in a pinch, as we all get into at times, carb cleaner works great to clean them. The oil guys I know, carry several sets of electrodes. They rarely try cleaning them, (cost prohibitive). Cracks can sometimes be very hard to see with ceramics. If the tips are burning back you'll need to make sure the end of the blast tube is 1/4" recessed out of the combustion chamber.
Old 02-24-03, 05:23 AM
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Hello [email protected],

I see your point.

It me 20 minutes to clean the porcelan and then file and reshape the electrodes on my furnace.

Replacement looks like it could be done in under a minute.

Regards TheZman
Old 02-24-03, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,816
You got the point...

Exactly, and some OEM electrodes are both flat and pointed, I think the theroy is to keep the spark focused at the end of the tips. I had a Weil MClain Boiler that wouldn't fire unless the gap was absolutely perfect. Good Luck!

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