Depending on where you live, oil-burning boilers may be common in your area. These systems provide a relatively efficient, clean-burning way to heat your home. Even better, hot water heating systems can offer a more comfortable environment when compared to forced-air furnaces. Of course, oil-burning boilers are more immune to faults than any other heating system.
Your oil burner is the heart of any oil boiler. Unsurprisingly, this component takes your heating fuel, ignites it, and extracts the heat to run the boiler. A problem with the oil burner can lead to low temperatures, inconsistent heating, or a boiler that just doesn't work at all. Keep reading to learn about three common issues that can impact your boiler's oil burner.
1. Nozzle Failures
Fuel oil is surprisingly tricky to burn, which is part of what makes it a safe option for home heating. Your oil burner relies on a small nozzle that vaporizes the fuel, allowing it to ignite much more quickly. Just like the fuel injectors in a car's engine, this nozzle must create a consistent and even mist of fuel in the combustion chamber.
A clogged or failing nozzle may cause noises as your boiler turns on, and it'll eventually prevent it from reaching an adequate temperature. You'll sometimes be able to repair these issues by removing and cleaning the nozzle. You'll need to replace the nozzle with a new one in more severe cases. Note that other system issues, such as allowing your oil tank to run too low, can result in clogged or failing nozzles.
2. Bad Fuel Pumps
The fuel pump pulls oil into your boiler's burner. These relatively small components are crucial to maintaining proper burner pressure. A weak or failing pump won't be able to push fuel oil through the nozzle, preventing it from vaporizing and stopping your boiler from working at all. You may also hear rumbling or grinding noises with pumps suffering from mechanical issues.
These units can often fail due to contamination, either from dirt and debris or moisture. Fortunately, a bad pump won't condemn your oil burner or the rest of your boiler. In most cases, you can replace the pump to restore heating. You may also be able to repair the pump by checking and replacing the built-in filter, although this won't fix a pump that's seized entirely.
3. Electrode Problems
Your burner's electrodes serve a similar function to your car's spark plugs. Burnt-out or improperly gapped electrodes will prevent your oil burner from firing, ultimately stopping your boiler from generating heat. If you're comfortable working on your boiler yourself, you can remove your electrodes to check their condition and clean and re-gap them as needed.
You may need to replace old or worn-down electrodes in some cases. If you're not sure what you're looking at when you remove these critical items, it's best to leave this repair to a boiler repair service.