Rumbling Oil burner puffs black smoke

Discussion in 'Home Repair' started by Mark Holbrook, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. Hello all, I have an oil boiler (ca. mid 80s, according to previous owner)
    that every now and then rumbles loudly (sounds like a truck going by outside
    the house), and spews gray/black smoke from what normally is the air inlet
    vent on the pipe that leads to the chimney. I have had a couple furnace guys
    over and they shrug their shoulders and say that unless it does it while
    they are there they don't know what it could be. I have had the boiler
    cleaned and the nozzles replaced. One of the guys said if he had to take a
    guess it might be sludge buildup in the oil tank, so I tried some sludge
    remover additive that I found at home depot. I figure that stuff is probably
    snake oil anyway, but it was pretty cheap so I figured I'd give it a go.
    Didn't really seem to do much. The repair guy stated that some sludge could
    be making its way to the nozzle that would then starve the combustion of the
    oil, this then causing the problem. So how do I make this stop?

    The oil tank is in the basement and there is a copper line from the oil tank
    to the boiler. Would cleaning the line out help, or just replacing it? The
    tank looks old, and has some exterior rust, not a lot though. Could there be
    a lot of sludge buildup in the tank itself? The boiler works fine most of
    the time, but it does this every other day or so during the winter while it
    is running on a regular basis. I am in CT so it only runs right now for hot
    water. It happened to do it again a few days ago (hadn't done it for a long
    time), and it got me thinking about it and how to get it fixed. I'd like to
    try to get this problem fixed before the fall/winter hits us.

    thank you,

    Mark

    --
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness"
    - Mark Twain
     
    Mark Holbrook, Aug 20, 2005
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. If the "furnace guy" thought it may be a sludge issue originating at the
    tank, did he bother to check the filter? Has anyone checked the filter? If
    there is in fact sludge in the tank it will be in the filter also. Did
    anyone check delivery pressure when they were standing there looking at it,
    for diagnostics sake? Most, not all, but most service providers are not
    equiped or adequately trained to diagnose oil problems. Find a specialist,
    guarantee he will find the problem.
    "Mark Holbrook" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hello all, I have an oil boiler (ca. mid 80s, according to previous owner)
    > that every now and then rumbles loudly (sounds like a truck going by

    outside
    > the house), and spews gray/black smoke from what normally is the air inlet
    > vent on the pipe that leads to the chimney. I have had a couple furnace

    guys
    > over and they shrug their shoulders and say that unless it does it while
    > they are there they don't know what it could be. I have had the boiler
    > cleaned and the nozzles replaced. One of the guys said if he had to take a
    > guess it might be sludge buildup in the oil tank, so I tried some sludge
    > remover additive that I found at home depot. I figure that stuff is

    probably
    > snake oil anyway, but it was pretty cheap so I figured I'd give it a go.
    > Didn't really seem to do much. The repair guy stated that some sludge

    could
    > be making its way to the nozzle that would then starve the combustion of

    the
    > oil, this then causing the problem. So how do I make this stop?
    >
    > The oil tank is in the basement and there is a copper line from the oil

    tank
    > to the boiler. Would cleaning the line out help, or just replacing it? The
    > tank looks old, and has some exterior rust, not a lot though. Could there

    be
    > a lot of sludge buildup in the tank itself? The boiler works fine most of
    > the time, but it does this every other day or so during the winter while

    it
    > is running on a regular basis. I am in CT so it only runs right now for

    hot
    > water. It happened to do it again a few days ago (hadn't done it for a

    long
    > time), and it got me thinking about it and how to get it fixed. I'd like

    to
    > try to get this problem fixed before the fall/winter hits us.
    >
    > thank you,
    >
    > Mark
    >
    > --
    > "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness"
    > - Mark Twain
    >
    >
     
    Anthony Berlin, Aug 20, 2005
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Mark Holbrook wrote:
    >
    > Hello all, I have an oil boiler (ca. mid 80s, according to previous owner)
    > that every now and then rumbles loudly (sounds like a truck going by outside
    > the house), and spews gray/black smoke ...


    Does it also say "I think I can, I think I can, ..." ? :)
     
    Duane Bozarth, Aug 20, 2005
    #3
  4. Mark Holbrook

    Dr. Hardcrab Guest

    "Mark Holbrook" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hello all, I have an oil boiler (ca. mid 80s, according to previous owner)
    > that every now and then rumbles loudly (sounds like a truck going by
    > outside the house), and spews gray/black smoke from what normally is the
    > air inlet vent on the pipe that leads to the chimney. I have had a couple
    > furnace guys over and they shrug their shoulders and say that unless it
    > does it while they are there they don't know what it could be.


    <SNIP>

    Sounds like late ignition to me. Burner comes on, sprays quite a bit of oil
    into the fire box and then lights. Could be a number of things:

    Like Mr. Berlin says: Oil filter could be clogged.

    pump strainer (if it has one) could be clogged (big culprit that a lot of
    techs overlook)

    Pump may not be delivering the requires PSI (did they check it with a guage?
    Could show if the filter or the strainer is stopped up OR the pump is bad)

    Transformer could be weak (sometime when they start to go bad they are
    sporadic)

    Could be a hairline crack in one of the porcelains (this causes the spark to
    arc on the nozzle assembly instead of at the ends of the electrodes)

    The electrodes could be set wrong (spark will arc ON the nozzle)

    Wrong size nozzle

    True, you can run into one that will not do it 99 times in a row and then on
    the hundreth time you got Choo Choo Charlie.

    Unless you have a contraxt with the shoulder shruggers, you may want to try
    another company. Explain to them what it is doing and let them go from
    there....
     
    Dr. Hardcrab, Aug 21, 2005
    #4
  5. "Anthony Berlin" <> wrote in message
    news:4307a285$0$32201$...
    > If the "furnace guy" thought it may be a sludge issue originating at the
    > tank, did he bother to check the filter? Has anyone checked the filter? If
    > there is in fact sludge in the tank it will be in the filter also. Did
    > anyone check delivery pressure when they were standing there looking at
    > it,
    > for diagnostics sake? Most, not all, but most service providers are not
    > equiped or adequately trained to diagnose oil problems. Find a specialist,
    > guarantee he will find the problem.


    Yes, I'm sorry, I forgot to mention that they did replace the filter at the
    tank. It was pretty clogged up, but at the time when the filter was
    replaced, that being December of 2004, I had only been in the house 6 months
    and had no idea when the previous owner had the filter replaced. The repair
    guy did not check the pressure though. I will make sure to keep that in mind
    when I get someone out to look at it in the near term.

    thanks for the advice...

    Mark
     
    Mark Holbrook, Aug 25, 2005
    #5
  6. "Dr. Hardcrab" <> wrote in message
    news:j6PNe.5748$xp.3259@trnddc02...
    >
    > "Mark Holbrook" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> Hello all, I have an oil boiler (ca. mid 80s, according to previous
    >> owner) that every now and then rumbles loudly (sounds like a truck going
    >> by outside the house), and spews gray/black smoke from what normally is
    >> the air inlet vent on the pipe that leads to the chimney. I have had a
    >> couple furnace guys over and they shrug their shoulders and say that
    >> unless it does it while they are there they don't know what it could be.

    >
    > <SNIP>
    >
    > Sounds like late ignition to me. Burner comes on, sprays quite a bit of
    > oil into the fire box and then lights. Could be a number of things:
    >
    > Like Mr. Berlin says: Oil filter could be clogged.
    >
    > pump strainer (if it has one) could be clogged (big culprit that a lot of
    > techs overlook)
    >
    > Pump may not be delivering the requires PSI (did they check it with a
    > guage? Could show if the filter or the strainer is stopped up OR the pump
    > is bad)
    >
    > Transformer could be weak (sometime when they start to go bad they are
    > sporadic)
    >
    > Could be a hairline crack in one of the porcelains (this causes the spark
    > to arc on the nozzle assembly instead of at the ends of the electrodes)
    >
    > The electrodes could be set wrong (spark will arc ON the nozzle)
    >
    > Wrong size nozzle
    >
    > True, you can run into one that will not do it 99 times in a row and then
    > on the hundreth time you got Choo Choo Charlie.
    >
    > Unless you have a contraxt with the shoulder shruggers, you may want to
    > try another company. Explain to them what it is doing and let them go from
    > there....


    Wow, that is a lot of possibilites, I will make sure to print this out and
    ask each of these querstions of the person that I have come out to take a
    look at this. I very much appreciate your thorough response.

    Thanks!

    Mark
     
    Mark Holbrook, Aug 25, 2005
    #6
  7. Mark Holbrook

    Dr. Hardcrab Guest

    Give us an update once they correct it....

    "Mark Holbrook" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >
    > "Dr. Hardcrab" <> wrote in message
    > news:j6PNe.5748$xp.3259@trnddc02...
    >>
    >> "Mark Holbrook" <> wrote in message
    >> news:...
    >>> Hello all, I have an oil boiler (ca. mid 80s, according to previous
    >>> owner) that every now and then rumbles loudly (sounds like a truck going
    >>> by outside the house), and spews gray/black smoke from what normally is
    >>> the air inlet vent on the pipe that leads to the chimney. I have had a
    >>> couple furnace guys over and they shrug their shoulders and say that
    >>> unless it does it while they are there they don't know what it could be.

    >>
    >> <SNIP>
    >>
    >> Sounds like late ignition to me. Burner comes on, sprays quite a bit of
    >> oil into the fire box and then lights. Could be a number of things:
    >>
    >> Like Mr. Berlin says: Oil filter could be clogged.
    >>
    >> pump strainer (if it has one) could be clogged (big culprit that a lot of
    >> techs overlook)
    >>
    >> Pump may not be delivering the requires PSI (did they check it with a
    >> guage? Could show if the filter or the strainer is stopped up OR the pump
    >> is bad)
    >>
    >> Transformer could be weak (sometime when they start to go bad they are
    >> sporadic)
    >>
    >> Could be a hairline crack in one of the porcelains (this causes the spark
    >> to arc on the nozzle assembly instead of at the ends of the electrodes)
    >>
    >> The electrodes could be set wrong (spark will arc ON the nozzle)
    >>
    >> Wrong size nozzle
    >>
    >> True, you can run into one that will not do it 99 times in a row and then
    >> on the hundreth time you got Choo Choo Charlie.
    >>
    >> Unless you have a contraxt with the shoulder shruggers, you may want to
    >> try another company. Explain to them what it is doing and let them go
    >> from there....

    >
    > Wow, that is a lot of possibilites, I will make sure to print this out and
    > ask each of these querstions of the person that I have come out to take a
    > look at this. I very much appreciate your thorough response.
    >
    > Thanks!
    >
    > Mark
    >
     
    Dr. Hardcrab, Aug 25, 2005
    #7
  8. Small water leak on boiler (was Re: Rumbling Oil burner puffs black smoke)

    OK, took a long time for an update on this, but we ended up getting the
    problem fixed - since my posts in the end of August the problem seemed to
    just go away, then it reappeared a week or so ago in full force - turns out
    that the transformer was bad, as you suggested! We had it replaced and no
    more "Choo Choo Charlie" rumbling and puffing of smoke anymore, which is
    definitely a good thing.

    So, now that that problem is fixed, I have noticed a new one upon inspecting
    the handywork of the repairman that was out to fix the original problem.

    I noticed a slight sizzling/hissing noise, even when the boiler was off. The
    boiler also acts as a hot water heater with the use of a coil, which the
    previous owner had replaced when I bought the house in July of '04. There is
    a square metal plate on the upper right hand corner of the front of the
    boiler that has the inlet and outlet pipes for the cold and hot water into
    and out of the coil. There is a noticeable small drip of water coming from
    the left hand side of the gasket on that square down the front of the
    boiler. It has been going on long enough such that there is rust and the
    paint has peeled away from the area where the drip meanders its way down the
    front of the boiler. It then collects on a larger square plate where the oil
    pump interfaces with the boiler itself. It was around here where the
    sizzling was happening.

    So now what should I do? I presume the drip is originating inside the metal
    panel where the coil is, and that tightening the bolts that hold that panel
    down really won't do anything, other than confine the drip to the insides of
    the boiler somehow - so I'll basically be covering up the problem by
    isolating it in that manner. If I still had an old coil in the boiler, I'd
    take a guess that it had failed and was leaking, but the fact that it had
    been replaced a little over a year ago makes me wonder if they only replaced
    the faceplate, and not the coil. Of course, that's unproven until it gets
    opened up, of course.

    I'm a little annoyed that the technician that was out didn't notice this
    problem, but who knows. My assumption is that at least he didn't somehow
    cause the problem, as the rust seems to indicate that this has been going on
    for a while at least.

    Any suggestions on what might be causing this and the best way to get it
    repaired?

    Thank you so much for your earlier suggestions, they really helped out!

    Mark



    "Dr. Hardcrab" <> wrote in message
    news:AngPe.20810$0U6.604@trnddc09...
    > Give us an update once they correct it....
    >
    > "Mark Holbrook" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >>
    >> "Dr. Hardcrab" <> wrote in message
    >> news:j6PNe.5748$xp.3259@trnddc02...
    >>>
    >>> "Mark Holbrook" <> wrote in message
    >>> news:...
    >>>> Hello all, I have an oil boiler (ca. mid 80s, according to previous
    >>>> owner) that every now and then rumbles loudly (sounds like a truck
    >>>> going by outside the house), and spews gray/black smoke from what
    >>>> normally is the air inlet vent on the pipe that leads to the chimney. I
    >>>> have had a couple furnace guys over and they shrug their shoulders and
    >>>> say that unless it does it while they are there they don't know what it
    >>>> could be.
    >>>
    >>> <SNIP>
    >>>
    >>> Sounds like late ignition to me. Burner comes on, sprays quite a bit of
    >>> oil into the fire box and then lights. Could be a number of things:
    >>>
    >>> Like Mr. Berlin says: Oil filter could be clogged.
    >>>
    >>> pump strainer (if it has one) could be clogged (big culprit that a lot
    >>> of techs overlook)
    >>>
    >>> Pump may not be delivering the requires PSI (did they check it with a
    >>> guage? Could show if the filter or the strainer is stopped up OR the
    >>> pump is bad)
    >>>
    >>> Transformer could be weak (sometime when they start to go bad they are
    >>> sporadic)
    >>>
    >>> Could be a hairline crack in one of the porcelains (this causes the
    >>> spark to arc on the nozzle assembly instead of at the ends of the
    >>> electrodes)
    >>>
    >>> The electrodes could be set wrong (spark will arc ON the nozzle)
    >>>
    >>> Wrong size nozzle
    >>>
    >>> True, you can run into one that will not do it 99 times in a row and
    >>> then on the hundreth time you got Choo Choo Charlie.
    >>>
    >>> Unless you have a contraxt with the shoulder shruggers, you may want to
    >>> try another company. Explain to them what it is doing and let them go
    >>> from there....

    >>
    >> Wow, that is a lot of possibilites, I will make sure to print this out
    >> and ask each of these querstions of the person that I have come out to
    >> take a look at this. I very much appreciate your thorough response.
    >>
    >> Thanks!
    >>
    >> Mark
    >>

    >
    >
     
    Mark Holbrook, Oct 19, 2005
    #8
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