Oil furnaces are heating devices that run on oil for fuel. They are considered complex machines and are relatively difficult to assemble. They are still used in many places as the primary heat source for warm air and heating systems for water. Oil furnaces are also known by the term "pressure burners". They work by spraying oil into a combustion chamber at high pressure, which is then propelled by a blower, and then ignited by an electrical spark.
Basic oil furnace troubleshooting
If care is given, heating systems are usually easy to maintain, and regular maintenance contributes to the furnaces' efficiency and overall functionality.
When something goes wrong with the heating system, there is usually a problem with any one of its three components: the heat source, the distribution system or the thermostat. If the furnace doesn't run at all, it is most likely that the problem lies in the source and the system may be suffering from a power shortage. In oil furnaces, this is manifested by the oil's failure to ignite. If the heat does not reach the home, check the distribution channels for possible leaks or clogs. If the heating system does not turn on, or turns on and off repeatedly, there is probably a problem with the thermostat or control system.
First off, remedy the power shortage problem. Check to see if the ignition produced is enough to ignite the oil. Look for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. If the oil furnace has a reset button, wait for thirty minutes to allow the motor to cool, and then reset the unit. Repeat once more if the unit fails to restart. Check if the oil furnace has a separate power switch, and ensure that it's switched on.
The thermostat may have been incorrectly set. Raise the thermostat by five degrees if necessary to jumpstart the system. Ascertain that there is an adequate supply of oil in the furnace.
For purposes of safety, make sure that all power to the unit is turned off before doing any work on oil furnaces. Check the main panel and remove the fuse that powers the furnace. If you're not entirely sure which fuse powers the unit, turn off all power. Some oil furnaces may have a separate power panel, so check to see where the power source comes from.
Although it's a big plus to know how to maintain your oil furnace on your own, it's highly recommended that the unit gets a professional check-up once every year, the best time of which is at the end of heating season.
Tips on oil furnace maintenance
Oil furnaces are relatively hard to fix once broken, so focus on keeping them in good condition instead of having to deal with problems related to carelessness and neglect of maintenance. Fortunately, there are several tips on how to maintain oil furnaces in tip-top working order.
Periodically check the smoke coming from the chimney during heating. The color of the smoke will tell you about how much fuel is being used and if it is used up properly. Black smoke indicates that the furnace is not burning the oil completely, thus fuel is being wasted.
Dirt is your worst enemy, as accumulation of dust and scum can result in fuel wastage and a decrease in overall efficiency of oil furnaces. Remember to clean out the blower before starting the heating, and again about midway through the season. This is also a good time to clean out soot build-up from the stack control.
In the event that the blower motor acquires grease or oil fittings, the best way to remedy this would be to lubricate the fittings midway through the heating season with cup grease or 10-weight nondetergent motor oil. This is different from all-purpose oil and is available at local hardware stores. It also helps to clean out the thermostat before each heating season.
Cleaning is the most important aspect of furnace maintenance, and a little tidying up will go a long way in lengthening your unit's life. Three parts of the furnace should be prioritized for cleaning: the filter system, the blower, and the motor. The furnace filter should be cleaned before heating season begins and once a month during periods of continuous use. Consult a professional if it is your first time handling an oil furnace unit, as safety precautions will need to be established early on.
Price of oil furnaces
The average running price for an oil furnace is $2000 to $6000. Few people choose to order oil furnaces online, as the bulk is not conducive for ordinary shipping. Hardware stores that sell furnaces usually provide materials that aid in furnace maintenance, so it's better if you find a hardware store near you to inquire about oil furnaces before purchasing one for your home.