Oil Furnace Erratically Won't Start

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Old 02-19-11, 02:19 AM
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Oil Furnace Erratically Won't Start

I seem to have stumped the Pros with this one.
I've asked on various Forums and have only gotten 1 answer back in the last 2 months...and it didn't answer my question.

I have a Rheem Highboy Oil Furnace that starts a few times, runs a few times, and then shuts down. (i.e., will not restart on its own). If I (dangerously) just hit the red reset button I can hear what seems like arcing (clicking) going on, but after 20 - 30 secs it shuts down. It seems like the igniter arc is not igniting the fuel being sprayed into the burn chamber (presumably).

Here is where all the answers I come up with bog down: I throw in a lit paper to burn off oil residual from failed start.
Hit the 'Reset' button and furnace starts up. It may start up by itself for the next 3 - 6 'boots', and then it won't restart on its own.

The conundrum here, as I said, is that the correct answer has to explain why prior oil burn-off seems to overcome the problem. As I sort through the various potential causes (Flame Sensor, Electronic Ignition, Thermocouple, etc.), none of the explanations addresses the why this 'fix' works (for a while, anyway). This 'fix' works every time.

If it was the igniter or transformer why would simply burning off residual oil fix the problem?
If it was the nozzle why would simply burning off residual oil fix the problem?
Etc.

Could it be that, after burning off residual oil, the burn chamber has been heated up and may even have a soft glow.
Then when I then hit the 'reset' button this heat/glow is in some way contributing to the furnace igniting?

It's left me with a burn-chamber and ductwork full of soot, which may even be a worse problem to correct!

I'm lost.
 
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Old 02-19-11, 06:29 PM
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If you have soot in the ducts, there is a VERY strong chance the heat exchanger has cracks or holes in it. If by "ductwork" you actually mean the vent pipe to the chimney, that's a whole different story.

Regarding the hearing of an arc: Does the burner motor run or are you just hearing an arcing sound? If the motor does not run, I suspect a bad start switch in the motor. The fact it will fire up several times once you get it going & then fail again is classic motor start switch.
 
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Old 02-19-11, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RAF-48 View Post
I seem to have stumped the Pros with this one.
I've asked on various Forums and have only gotten 1 answer back in the last 2 months...and it didn't answer my question.

I have a Rheem Highboy Oil Furnace that starts a few times, runs a few times, and then shuts down. (i.e., will not restart on its own). If I (dangerously) just hit the red reset button I can hear what seems like arcing (clicking) going on, but after 20 - 30 secs it shuts down. It seems like the igniter arc is not igniting the fuel being sprayed into the burn chamber (presumably).

Here is where all the answers I come up with bog down: I throw in a lit paper to burn off oil residual from failed start.
Hit the 'Reset' button and furnace starts up. It may start up by itself for the next 3 - 6 'boots', and then it won't restart on its own.

The conundrum here, as I said, is that the correct answer has to explain why prior oil burn-off seems to overcome the problem. As I sort through the various potential causes (Flame Sensor, Electronic Ignition, Thermocouple, etc.), none of the explanations addresses the why this 'fix' works (for a while, anyway). This 'fix' works every time.

If it was the igniter or transformer why would simply burning off residual oil fix the problem?
If it was the nozzle why would simply burning off residual oil fix the problem?
Etc.

Could it be that, after burning off residual oil, the burn chamber has been heated up and may even have a soft glow.
Then when I then hit the 'reset' button this heat/glow is in some way contributing to the furnace igniting?

It's left me with a burn-chamber and ductwork full of soot, which may even be a worse problem to correct!

I'm lost.
Sounds to me like you are burning dirty and you get a carbon build up across the points. Then is won't fire and you get the oil built up. when you burn off the oil in the bottom of the chamber that will burn off the carbon on the points so then it will fire
a few times until carbon is build up again. You need to clean it out inside and check your electrodes for cracks and make sure they are adjusted right for the nozzle you are using.
Also make sure air is adjusted so you are burning clean. Paul
 
 

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