Start And Maintain An Oil Furnace

A master switch turns an oil burner on and off automatically, but it can occasionally fail. When this happens, a piece of heat-sensitive equipment in the burner’s stack control or a light detecting cell inside the burner turns the motor off. This process may signal the need to call a repair expert, but before doing that you should try to start the burner yourself. Keeping your oil burner maintained may also help keep it from shutting off in the future. Does this Spark an idea?


Starting an Oil Furnace

1. Inspect the setting on your thermostat. Try resetting the thermostat five degrees higher than the current room temperature. Some oil burner thermostats come equipped with a Day/Night toggle. Make sure that you have it on the correct setting. Clean the contact points on the thermostat by sliding a piece of paper between them.

2. Check the emergency switch which may be labeled as the master switch. Some oil burners have two of these switches. One will be on the burner itself and the other may be placed on a wall near the burner or at the top of a stairway if the burner is downstairs. Try both switches if one doesn’t work.

3. Make sure the reason the oil burner isn’t starting is not because of a blow fuse. Go to your main electrical panel and trip the circuit breaker or replace a fuse. If the fuse blows again, call in for expert repair.

4. Look to make sure your oil supply gauge is accurate. Open the filler pipe and measure the supply with a long enough dipstick. Any kind of stick that will fit is good enough for measuring.

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5. Press the reset button on the burner or the flue or the ignition safety control located on the stack. Press this button only once because doing it more than that could result in filling the combustion chamber with oil. If the burner starts and the immediately shuts off, you need to call for repair. If the burner does not start, push the restart button on the motor if it has one.

Maintaining an Oil Furnace

6. Lubricate the oil cups of the motor twice a year. Use just two or three drops of high grade machine oil and avoid using all-purpose oil.

7. Turn off the master or emergency switch to clean the fan blower. Insert a small brush through the air-intake openings at least once between regular inspections by a professional.

8. Remove the stack control between regular inspections of your oil furnace and clean soot from the heat sensor. The soot from an oil furnace sensor can be cleaned with a toothbrush dipped in sudsy water. A heavy coating of soot signals incomplete combustion and means a call to a repair professional.

9. Inspect the draft regulator on the pipe leading to your chimney. When the burner is on, the regulator should be open an inch or two. Adjust the counterweight on circular metal flap if this is not the case.

10. Inspect the flame in the observation window. The oil furnace flame should be bright yellow with an orange tip. It should not be producing any smoke. Dark orange flames or black smoke means you need to call in for repairs.

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