Oil furnace reset button tripped occasionally for the past 10 days


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Old 12-19-14, 08:00 PM
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Question Oil furnace reset button tripped occasionally for the past 10 days

I have a 1986 ultra 80 furnace with a Beckett model burner.

Since 12/10, we started to notice that sometimes when the "system on" indicator on our thermostat was on, the furnace didn't start. When we checked the furnace, the red safety light was lit. When we hit the reset button, the furnace always started immediately as long as the temperature set on the thermostat was higher than the room temperature it read. Then the furnace stopped on its own when the room temperature reached the set temperature, and could start on its own when the room temperature dropped below the set temperature.

This problem doesn't occur everyday, and cannot be reproduced by ourselves. Accordingly to my notes, we experienced the problem on 12/19 (twice), 12/16, 12/15, 12/13, 12/12, 12/11 (twice), 12/10 (twice).

The furnace was tuned up and vacuumed by professionals last winter. We also had the transformer replaced last winter to fix the delayed ignition problem that tripped the reset button a few times. We don't think there is delayed ignition problem this time since the furnace can start immediately after we reset it.

Initially we suspected the problem might be due to failure to sense flame. On 12/16 we saw the reset button tripped about 45 seconds after the furnace started when we happened to be near the furnace. However, for all the other times, we didn't know when the reset button tripped, and the furnace could keep running after we hit the reset button, not keep tripping within a short period of time. Anyway, we cleaned the cad cell on 12/17 (although it didn't look dirty at all when we removed it from the furnace) and tightened the wiring connections. It didn't have problem yesterday but today I had to reset it twice, first time at 5:15 pm when I tried to increase the set temperature on the thermostat, and second time at 8:50 pm when the thermostat tried to start the furnace to maintain the set temperature. The furnace stopped normally and is not having problem at this moment.

Any ideas of what might be the cause of the problem would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 12-20-14, 09:51 AM
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Intermittent problems are a bear to try to fix.
The fact it shut down once while running, if there was indeed flame present, would tend to indicate a flame sense problem but if it hasn't done it since, that would almost eliminate the cad cell system as your problem.
The best way to diagnose is to look at the flame as soon as you reset the control & compare it to what it looks like when you don't have to reset. A more yellow flame after reset would indicate there is excess oil in the chamber & ignition is the problem.
 
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Old 12-20-14, 01:06 PM
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What type of control is the Cad cell connected to? I had a similar problem a few years ago and there was a bad connection on the control board,If you have the same control it should sitting on a 4" Sq on top of the Gun,it's probably where your reset button is,you can separate it and look at the board for bad solder connections.does the control look like this?http://www.google.com/shopping/produ...FdNj7AodpzcAYw
Geo
 
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Old 12-20-14, 06:41 PM
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Thank you both for your reply! I really appreciate your help.

@Geochurchi, my control is Honeywell R8184M 1051, which looks the same as the one in the link, but is a different model. I will take a look at the control first to see if I can spot any bad connections. I attached here a photo of the control. Where should I look? For all the screws with wires on the right side, I already tried tightening them up. Are you referring to these or should I open it up somehow? What do you mean "separate it"?


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Also what's the fix if it indeed has bad connections? Do I need to buy a new control and replace the current one, or buy a home soldering kit? Any fast and economical fix?

@Grady, what do I need to do to have flame exposed? Right now it is not visible to me. What do I open?

Many thanks!!
 
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Old 12-21-14, 04:55 AM
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That's a slightly older control then mine ,first shut the power off to the boiler,there should be 2 screws holding that control to the gun,remove them and swing that control away and look underneath,there should be some means to separate the board from the control if you can't see anything from there,ie small screws on metal tabs to bend back,check for loose solder connection ,and even any connection that go to the gun under there. Post a pic if you get it separated.hopefully a cheap soldering kit for the repair.

Man made it Man can repair it!
Geo
 
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Old 12-21-14, 05:32 AM
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That's a expensive control. If me I would do the basics, oil filter-strainer and nozzle.After all seems it's been a year.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 06:56 AM
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Thank you guys! Will try both and keep you posted.

Where is the best place to buy oil filter-strainer (shown as THE UNIFILTER MODEL 77 in my furnace), online or local store? Also do I need to replace fuel pump filter as well (I don't have the gadget to measure pressure). Shall I attempt a full tune-up by myself or is it too much for someone who has not done it before?

Removing nozzle to clean it doesn't seem to be difficult. Any special instructions for oil filter-strainer? What else I can do besides nozzle and oil filter-strainer?

BTW, yesterday the furnace had no problem at all, but this morning we noticed that the reset button tripped again. We don't know when/how it happened in the middle of the night.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 07:07 AM
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The Ultra 80 is an Armstrong (Ducane) if I'm not mistaken. There should be a tube about 2" in diameter a few inches above the burner. This tube has a cap on it held in place with a 1/4" hex head screw. To see the flame you have to remove that cap. A wider angle picture of the burner & front of the furnace would tell me for sure if I'm thinking of the right furnace.

You should not try to clean the nozzle, replace it. With the make & actual model number (located on a sticker in the area of the burner) I can find out the manufacturers specified nozzle. You can get the filter, pump screen, & nozzle at most real plumbing supply houses, not a big box store.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 08:11 AM
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Thanks for the reply! Yes, it is an Armstrong. Here are photos of the furnace and the sticker with the model information. Is the round thing in the middle of the photo for the furnace the cap you mentioned? If the flame looks yellow, what kind of ignition problem can it be and what's the fix?

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Why should the nozzle be replaced instead of cleaned? It was just cleaned but not replaced during the tune-up last winter. Should the furnace be tuned up every year? Can I go by every other year?

Also what's the ballpark cost of all the stuff that I need to purchase from the plumbing store? What is pump screen (sorry for my ignorance)? Do I need to buy something to measure the pressure if I replace it?

Thanks a lot!
 
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Old 12-21-14, 10:11 AM
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At ten dollars or less for a nozzle it is foolish to waste your time "cleaning" the nozzle. The majority of the time spent will be in disassembly and reassembly so why not eliminate a possible problem by simply replacing the nozzle?

Oil burners should be serviced at least yearly but depending on the amount (gallons) of oil you burn, the cleanliness of the oil and the tank and the filters you use it MIGHT be possible to do it once every other year.

The pump screen is the last defense for keeping foreign material from the pump itself. Some are mounted under a square plate on the top of the pump and some require the removal of the end of the pump. IF you have good oil AND good filters that you change regularly it is probably not necessary to change the pump screen every year.

Testing the fuel pump nozzle pressure IS part of yearly service. You need a pressure gauge that reads to about 250-300 psi and the adapters necessary to connect it to your pump.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 11:42 AM
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The pump screen is under the cover on the left side of the burner where the fuel line attaches. The cover is held on with 4 machine screws with either 5/16" hex heads or will take a 5/32" allen key depending on how old the pump is.

When I do routine maintenance on an oil burner, I always check the pump screen. If there is anything at all on it, it gets replaced.

The factory spec'd nozzle is a Delavan .85 x 80*B & the pump pressure should be set for 140#.
Electrode tips should be 5/16 - 7/16" above the nozzle center, 1/16" ahead of the nozzle face, & 5/32" apart (gap).

Total cost for the nozzle, fuel filter element, & screen for a Suntec 'A' pump should be less than $20.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 07:08 PM
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Okay, here is what's new today (problems happened three times):

First time: Around 7:45 am, we noticed that the temperature reading on the thermostat was two degrees below the set temperature, ďsystem onĒ indicator was on, but furnace didnít start (reset button tripped). We reset it and chose to hold temperature, the furnace was on and off on its own during the day.

Second time: At 6:00 pm, when we walked by the thermostat, we noticed that the problem happened again. We removed the cap of the tube above the burner, saw a lot of soot in it. We cleaned it with a brush. Then we hit the reset button, the furnace started to run. From the end of the tube, all we could see was a dark yellow to light orange color light. We could not see any flame, which was probably further down. Then after the furnace stopped, we increased the temperature on the thermostat. The furnace started again. We saw a similar color (might be slightly lighter, but we werenít sure), but it seemed to blink and occasionally we saw flame shooting up.

Third time: At 9:05 pm, we noticed that the reset button tripped, the red safety light was on, but the ďsystem onĒ indicator on the thermostat was *not* on, and actually the fan was still running then and stopped shortly after. This seemed to suggest that the reset button tripped while the burner was running, not when it tried to start (correct?). We hit the reset button. This time we saw blinking dark yellow to light orange light from the end of the tube.

What does the new development mean? This is the first time that the reset button tripped three times in a single day. We canít really tell the difference in flame between when we hit the reset button and when the furnace started on its own normally (we only saw color of light, not much flame visible). Also the third tripping seemed to happen when the furnace was already running. Does this lead to a new theory or validate an existing theory? We will try to separate the control and take a look at the connections tomorrow.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 07:51 PM
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I forgot to mention that every time within the first few minutes of the furnace's running, we could hear a few times some sound which seemed to come from the upper/middle part of the left side (near the top left tube and the rectangular box below it in the picture). We can't say for sure what the sound was like, it was a little like banging on the metal. Is this normal or does it indicate a problem?
 
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Old 12-21-14, 08:16 PM
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The dark yellow to orange would tend to indicate excess oil in the chamber IF the flame got lighter as the furnace ran or was light yellow when the furnace started on it's own. The soot is not good either. Sounds like an ignition problem to me.

I think the furnace heat exchanger needs a good cleaning & the burner a tune up. Those furnaces are not hard to clean but one should use a vacuum cleaner made for the purpose. If you use an ordinary shop vac you could destroy the motor &/or end up with soot all over the basement.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 08:59 PM
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Thanks Grady.My wife thought the color was dark yellow and light orange but I think it is just yellow or light yellow. Because there is really not much comparison for the color we couldn't agree each other.

For the ignition, I thought if you hit reset button and the system starts right away it should not be the ignition problem. Am I wrong? Doesn't ignition only happen when the system just starts?

Do you have any suggestion for a good vacuum cleaner for clean up the furnace?

What should be cleaned and what should be replaced for burner turn up?

Thanks a lot!
 
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Old 12-22-14, 05:14 AM
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Following is a description of the control features ,I only suggest this as a possibility as yours is doing the same thing as mine.
https://customer.honeywell.com/en-US...d=R8184M1051/U
Geo
 
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Old 12-22-14, 02:37 PM
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I've seen many furnaces with ignition problems due to electrode maladjustment (sometimes simply due to wear), fouled nozzles, too much air, or other causes fire nearly instantly when the reset button is pushed. This is because you now have a fuel rich environment. It's kind of like pulling the choke on a small gasoline engine.

Soot vacs are expensive. The cheapest I found from one of my supply houses was nearly $350. You might be able to pick up one on ebay.

On the burner, you want to change the nozzle, fuel filter, & pump screen as well as cleaning & adjusting the electodes. The pump pressure should also be checked.
 
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Old 12-31-14, 08:01 PM
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Hi, guys. Sorry for the lack of response from my end. I have been waiting to see if the problem comes back after we replaced oil filter, nozzle, and bled the furnace on 12/23. We also measured the electrodes and they seemed to comply with the requirements, so we did not adjust them. The reset button has not tripped since, so I guess the problem is solved. What's interesting is that we found out the nozzle used in the furnace before we replaced it was .85 x 80*A, not .85 x 80*B. The nozzle was replaced in 11/2013 by a technician of our oil company, when he was fixing a delayed ignition problem. He replaced the oil filter too at that time, but I don't recall any furnace bleeding then. Don't know if this explained why we had the problem. :-)

Many thanks to all of you who have responded in this thread! We would not be able to solve the problem without your help.

Happy new year!
 
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Old 01-01-15, 06:03 AM
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Good to hear things are going well after some basic maintenance. That furnace/burner combination does work better with a 'B' (solid pattern) nozzle. The newer version of that furnace runs at a pump pressure of 140# but if yours does not have a sticker on the burner (near the nozzle assembly) stating such, don't mess with the pump pressure.

Have a great New Year & should other problems arise, we'll be here.
 
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Old 03-23-15, 07:15 PM
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It happened again after 3 months

Hi, everyone. I am back.

After 3 months or so without problems (I replaced the oil filter and the nozzle), since 3/17, the reset button of the furnace tripped three times:

3/17: In the early evening when we came back home and increased the set temperature on the thermostat, the "system on" indicator turned on but the furnace didn't start. Found that the reset button tripped. Hit reset and the furnace turned on immediately.

3/22 and 3/23: In the morning, the furnace went on immediately without problem when we increased the set temperature on the thermostat after getting up, but then about an hour later, we noticed that the "system on" indicator turned on but the furnace didn't start. So the reset button tripped again. Hit reset and again the furnace turned on immediately.

Any thoughts on where the problem might be? Can the oil filter and the nozzle turn bad only after 3 months? If they are not the cause of the problem, why replacing them worked for 3 months? What shall I do next? Get new oil filter and nozzle again, or shall I replace pump filter? If so, where to buy the gauge needed for the pressure?

Also I am wondering whether the problem we are having has anything to do with the quality of the oil in the tank? We are using B20. We were delivered 170 gallons B20 in 11/2013, then 317 gallons traditional oil in 01/2014, then a total of 533 gallons B20 between 04/2014 and 01/2015.

Many thanks for helping us out here!!
 
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Old 03-23-15, 07:21 PM
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Are you burning biodiesel to be "green" or because the cost is less? I've been away from all things concerning fuel oil for a good many years but I HAVE read about people having problems when burning biodiesel in their home furnaces.
 
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Old 03-23-15, 08:11 PM
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From what I know of bio blends, I understand they can be pretty aggressive when it comes to breaking loose any sludge which might be in the tank. With that in mind, I would suggest starting with the nozzle, filter, & pump screen again.
After purging the air but before installing the new nozzle, connect the nozzle assembly to the pump discharge line & flush about 30 seconds of fuel into a container. This will help flush out any loose material in the nozzle assembly.
You might be able to find a pressure gauge at a plumbing supply house or some place which deals in hydraulics. Here's one I found but it's 1-2 weeks out. Patriot Supply - 100337
I do suggest a 300# gauge. It will need to be adapted to 3/16" flare.

In looking at your post again, I noticed you said B-20. I don't think that pump is approved for anything over B-5 due to possible seal problems. When buying a filter, make sure the gasket is approved for B-20.
 
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Old 03-23-15, 08:30 PM
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@Furd, we did it for both reasons -- getting a little greener and hopefully getting some credit from the state when filing the income tax return. So it seems that this is not worthy.

@Grady, sorry for my ignorance, but where/which is the pump discharge line? How do I connect the nozzle assembly to it? And do I do it with the old nozzle still on, or remove it before flushing? Also "purging the air" means bleeding the furnace, or something else?

Many thanks!!
 
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Old 03-24-15, 08:09 AM
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You want to remove the old nozzle prior to flushing.
Pump discharge line, also called nozzle line, is the 3/16" copper tube from the pump to the nozzle assembly.

The nozzle assembly is connected via a flare nut (uses 7/16" wrench).

You need to purge the air via the brake bleeder type fitting hidden below the fuel inlet line at the 5:00 position on the pump. You will need a 3/8" wrench, a couple of feet of 1/4" I.D. plastic tubing, & a container in which to catch the oil. If you have (2) 3/8" copper lines connected to the pump, you won't have to use the bleeder to purge the air. Just pushing the reset a time or 2 should do it.
 
 

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