Important Oil Boiler Cleaning Tasks To Complete

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Home heating oil boilers require quite a bit of maintenance. However, the systems are often worth the headaches since they are just as efficient as gas varieties. Specifically, a home heating oil system is at least 86% efficient, and some models may be as much as 90% or 96% efficient. This is in line with a gas heating system. If you do not have natural gas lines in your area, then a heating oil system may be your next best heating option. But you will need to prepare yourself for some basic cleaning tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis. To learn about some of these tasks, keep reading.

Oil Filter Cleaning

Home heating oil systems will use a type of petroleum fuel called home heating oil. This fuel is typically diesel fuel with a small amount of kerosene added. While the fuel is refined well before it reaches your fuel oil tank, the fuel will contain some impurities. These impurities will travel along the fuel line, and they will become trapped by the oil filter. This filter is called an in-line filter that is attached directly to the oil line. Fuel oil must flow through the filter before making its way to the boiler. The filter helps to remove water from the fuel that has solidified. This solidification typically happens due to the cold outdoor temperatures, and the gel that forms is trapped by the filter. Also, any rust, dirt, and other debris that gets into the tank and mixes with fuel will also be caught by the filter.

Over time, your oil filter can become quite congested with debris. If the filter becomes too dirty, dirt, wax, and other materials can make their way to the boiler. The boiler itself has a small grate filter attached to the fuel pump. While the filter can catch debris that the main filter did not, the small grate will clog easily. This can greatly reduce the flow rate of the fuel when it moves into the boiler system. 

You will need to check your filter often and clean it thoroughly throughout the heating season. Since most home heating oil filters contain wool felt cartridges, you can rinse the filters instead of constantly replacing them. The cartridges should be changed once a year during your annual heating inspection. However, after replacement, you should rinse the cartridge about every few months. You will need a small bowl of kerosene to do this as well as some rags and a wrench.

To complete the cleaning, remove the small bolt from the top of the fuel canister. Place some rubber gloves on your hands and gently lift the filter cartridge out of the housing. Place the filter in your bowl of kerosene and gently move it around in the bowl. You should see the clean kerosene becoming dirty as the fuel rinses out the gel and dirt from the filter. You can place the filter back in the housing now. You should first wipe out the interior of the casing to remove debris. Once the filter has been replaced, secure the top on the canister. 

Nozzle Clearing 

Some small particles of dirt and debris can make their way all the way to the boiler system. When this happens, the small nozzle that releases the fuel into the main housing of the boiler can become clogged. This can cause significant problems. The spray nozzle allows air and fuel to mix together, then the mixture is burned. This allows for maximum efficiency. A clogged nozzle can cause fuel oil to drip instead of spray. Not only will this reduce efficiency, but the dripping oil can delay the boiler firing process. 

It is fairly easy to clean the boiler spray nozzle. However, you need to be careful. The electric ignition usually sits just about the sprayer. This ignition produces a spark that sets the fuel oil on fire. Two metal prongs sit over the nozzle and the spark is created between them. If the pieces of the ignition are moved, then the spark may not be positioned correctly. As you clean, try to stay away from the metal pieces above the spray nozzle.

To get to the nozzle, you will need to loosen and remove the bolts from the front door of the boiler. Swing the door open afterwards and look for a small cone-shaped nozzle on the door's interior. Use a cotton rag to gently clean around the sides of the nozzle. Afterwards, place a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a q-tip and swab the hole of the nozzle. Try to work a small amount of alcohol in the hole and use your rag to wipe the end. Close and latch the boiler door afterwards. 

For more information or assistance with maintaining your home heating oil boiler, contact a professional HVAC contractor, such as those at Winters Heating Cooling.

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27 June 2016

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