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How to fix oil burners in an emergency

An oil burner should be checked, cleaned, and adjusted by a professional serviceman before each heating season. Consider taking out a yearly service contract. Some companies offer lower rates for service at the end of the heating season.

You can do several things to keep your burner operating efficiently. If the motor has oil cups (some have sealed bearings that require no added lubrication), put a few drops of high grade machine oil in each one every 2 or 3 months during the heating season. Using a crevice attachment, periodically vacuum the openings that admit air to the burner’s blower.

When the burner is on, the draft regulator on the pipe leading to the chimney should automatically tip open 1 or 2 inches to admit air; if it doesn’t, adjust the small counterweight on the circular metal flap. If your burner has an observation window, look at the flame in the combustion chamber; it should be bright yellow, tipped with orange, and should produce no smoke. If the flame is dark orange or seems sooty, or if you can see black smoke coming from the chimney outside, have your serviceman adjust the burner.

Malfunctions

If your oil burner fails to start, try the following before calling for service: 1.Check the emergency switch. There maybe two of these, one on the burner and another on a nearby wall or at the head of the stairs. 2. Check your house electrical panel for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. If a fuse blows or a breaker goes off right after you replace or reset it, call for service. 3. Check your oil supply. Don’t trust the gauge; open the filler pipe and measure the level with a long stick. 4. Check the thermostat. If it has a DAY/NIGHT switch, make sure it is set correctly; pass a piece of stiff paper or a crisp dollar bill between the contact points to clean them. 5.Push the reset button on the burner or flue. Push it only once, or you may fill the combustion chamber with oil. If the burner starts but immediately stops again. call for service. 6. If the burner motor has a restart button, push it to see if the burner starts. If the burner sputters or goes on and off, there may be dirt in the oil filters, normally located in the pump housing at one end of the motor. Switch the burner off, unbolt the lid, and clean the filters in kerosene.