Oil Burner Tune Up

Get your oil burner ready for winter with this 13-point checklist.
By MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
October/November 1991
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When you schedule a tune up, ask your service company about reducing the firing rate of the burner. Most burners are oversize, and significant savings can be achieved by downsizing the nozzle.

The burner nozzle controls the firing rate (the rate of oil flow in gallons per hour). Only your fuel supplier has the records necessary to determine if this is applicable.

Make sure your serviceperson leaves a tag attached to the heating system which records the final combustion efficiency, smoke reading, percent carbon dioxide (CO2), net stack temperature and any other work done. Combustion efficiency indicates what percentage of fuel your burner turns into heat.

Make sure your tune-up also includes the following 13 key checks for a winter-ready oil burner:

  • combustion chamber cleaned thoroughly or replaced
  • heat exchanger cleaned
  • oil-pump pressure checked and regulated, if needed
  • oil filter replaced
  • all operating and safety controls checked
  • pump and blower motors checked and oiled
  • barometric draft regulator checked, adjusted, or replaced, depending on its condition
  • burner fan, motor, electrodes and transformer cleaned and lubricated
  • oil pump bled (if necessary)
  • nozzle replaced (you should do this every year)
  • leaks into the unit sealed
  • potential of "baffling" installation assessed (important in older units)
  • final combustion tests completed; tag attached to the heating system which shows the final combustion efficiency.

To save even more energy around the house, try these do-it-yourself projects:

Insulating Pipes and Heating Ducts 

Quick Checks for an Efficient, Winterized Heating System.

Types of Caulk and Where to Use Caulking 

Chalk Characteristics 

Types of Weatherstripping and How to Weatherstrip Your Home

Log Home Insulation Saves Energy








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