Clogged oil line or air leak?

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Old 04-14-18, 09:27 PM
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Clogged oil line or air leak?

Last Saturday our oil burner tripped. When we reset it, it tripped again because the fire went off shortly after it was started. Within a day we noticed the hot water heater tripped as well (not sure when it actually happened). When we hit the reset button of the water heater, we heard some noise and it tripped again shortly. We thought this might be due to the air bubbles so we started to bleed the line from the burner. After an initial burst of oil with bubbles the flow became slower and at one point it seemed to stop flowing completely. We decided to change the filter (one filter for both the oil burner and the water heater). When doing so, we noticed that the oil at the bottom of the oil filter canister was very dirty (black) with some small solid looking pieces (we didnít see it to be this dirty when we changed the oil filter annually the previous few times). When we changed to the new filter and started to bleed again, there was a constant flow of bubbles with some oil but the flow was not as fast as previous years after the oil filter was changed. After bleeding several times (the burner would trip and we had to hit the reset button to start bleeding again), there were still a lot of air bubbles. We checked the oil delivery record and realized that the most recent delivery was 450 gallons in mid February (our tank is 500 gallons). The tank had never been running this low since we purchased the house in 2013. We suspect that some sludge got sucked into the oil line and got everything dirty. So we decided to change the pump strainer as well. Afterwards, we bled the line again. This time the flow was faster but there were still mostly bubbles and just some oil after bleeding several times. At this point we are not sure whether we have a clogged oil line that needs to be dealt with, or if we should continue to bleed.

We have an underground oil tank sti-P3 on the other side of the house. The oil line runs through the crawl space. When we removed the canister with the oil line valve open, no oil came out at all, not even a drip. There are two lines hooked up with the oil burner (and the water heater as well). We guess one is for supply, one is for return. However, we could only see one line in the part of the crawl space which we have access to. The other part of the crawl space is closed off.

We called and are waiting for call back next week for repair service. In the meantime, we would like to know based on the description above, if you know we indeed have a clogged oil line, or a leak somewhere, or simply more bleeding would be all we need. Any suggestion on what is happening here and what we should do next is appreciated!
 
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