Our purpose is to better educate people on their knowledge of oil heating systems. We are always available for questions of any sort via e-mail, this web site or by phone. Cleaning your furnace every year for maximum efficiency and peak performance minimizes the chance of a breakdown which results in a service call and also increases the life of the appliance by many years.
What kind of heating system do you have?
5) Oil Tanks
1) Forced Warm Air
Warm air furnaces are heating systems that use a duct work system to deliver the heat from a blower in the furnace to and from the desired heating spaces, ie. bedrooms, bath, living room, kitchen etc. with a supply and return piping of metal or flex duct work. Blowers can be direct drive or belt drive. They can be a bit drafty and dry the air out in the heated space.
Change the air filter on a regular basis and do not let it get dirty. A dirty air filter will greatly reduce the overall system efficiency, causing you to burn a lot more oil than normal. Most warm air systems only need 2-3 filters a heating season, while some others need to be changed every month during the heating season.
One advantage of having a furnace with duct work to deliver the heat is that it can also be used for central air conditioning. Most existing furnaces can be easily adapted to accomodate a central air conditioner while some need to update their duct size to work properly.
Warm air furnaces should be cleaned in the spring time. When the furnace is cleaned at or near the end of its heating season it will not have any soot left in the heat exchanger. This is important beacause in the hot humid summer, moisture and condensation works its way inside the heat exchanger and if there is any soot present it acts like a sponge and absorbs the water. When water is mixed with the sulfur in the soot it causes the heat exchanger to rust out at a much faster rate. So remember to always clean furnaces in the spring.
Typically most steam systems use large cast-iron radiators with one in each room. They are sized according to the size of the room, how many windows, how high the ceilings are and what type of insulation is used in the walls. They get very hot when in operation and deliver a warm heat.
If you have an older steam boiler with a low water cut-off mounted on the outside of the boiler there is some maintenance that needs to be done on a monthly basis to keep the float free and operating correctly. Flushing the water monthly keeps the float inside operating correctly to ensure that if the water level of the boiler drops below a safe operating level the float will shut off power to the oil burner to keep it from over heating the boiler and ultimeately destroying the boiler. Modern steam boilers have electric low water cut-off switches and do not have any flushing maintenance if they are the type mounted internally.
Steam systems when balanced and operating correctly are a warm and for the most part an even delivered type of heat. The air vents mounted on the side of each radiator can be noisy and if they are leaking steam need to be replaced to increase over all system efficiency.
If your steam boiler is used for heating only and does not run through the summer to make hot water, than it should be cleaned at the end of the heating season before the humid heat of summer arrives. Once that happens the soot gets wet inside the boiler and it is hard to clean out. By cleaning it sooner the soot is still nice and dry and flaky inside and it can all be removed with the annual cleaning. When it gets wet, it's like mud inside and the furnace can not be effectively cleaned properly, resulting in efficiency loss.
3) Forced Hot Water
This type of heating system delivers the heat through water via a circulating pump run by the thermostat. Fin tube radiation is the most popular, although radiant heat in the floors is becoming more popular. Some older steam systems have been converted to forced hot water and is evident by the use of cast-iron steam radiators.
This type of boiler and heating system has the lowest maintenance, has the most even heat and is the system of choice on the north east. The reason being is that with this type of system you can easily zone out the house for different comfort levels. An example would be having a zone for the bedrooms and another for the bath and living spaces. This would be a 2 zone system that has 2 different thermostats in the house. You could keep the bedrooms turned down when not in use and even at night for sleeping while the other thermostat keeps the main area of the house warmer. There are some homes that have as many as 8 or 10 zones. It all depends on the size of the home and how much control you want to have over its spaces. Typically 2-3 zones is the most common. This type of heating system when used properly has excellent overall system efficiency.
If your forced hot water boiler is used for heating only and does not run through the summer to make hot water, than it should be cleaned at the end of the heating season before the humid heat of summer arrives. Once that happens the soot gets wet inside the boiler and it is hard to clean out. By cleaning it sooner the soot is still nice and dry and flaky inside and it can all be removed with the annual cleaning. When it gets wet, it's like mud inside and the furnace can not be effectively cleaned properly, resulting in efficiency loss.
4) Water Heaters
Oil fired water heaters should be cleaned every year and if they are equipped with anode rods those should be checked every 1-2 years and replaced as needed. Water heater tanks and fittings are typically made from different metals. Electrical current flows between the different metals using the water as a conductor. This is called electrolysis. The electrical current corrodes the most vulnerable metal (the magnesium anode rod). Without anode rod protection, the vulnerable metal is the steel tank. The anode rods disolve completely for easy cleaning. Proper anode rod maintenance can add many years to the life of the tank.
5) Oil Tanks
Steel 275 or 330 gallon fuel oil storage tanks are the primary way oil is stored for consumption on residential and light commercial oil burner systems. 275 gallons is the more popular choice. The fuel oil is best delivered to the burner by gravity feed in a sleeved copper oil line by the suction of the oil pump. The Mass. code coming into effect in September 2011 states that ALL oil lines MUST be protected either by an Oil Safety Valve(OSV) installed at the outlet of the oil tank to the oil burner fuel supply line or a non-metallic sleeve so as to ensure that the copper doesn't come into contact with the earth, cocrete or a floor surface. Leaking fuel lines or oil tanks can be dangerous to the environment and are expensive to clean up. It is recommended that if your oil tank is over 30 years old that you consider replacing it with a new one. If you are unsure if your oil line will meet the new standard call BOB'S OIL BURNER SERVICE 413-522-2064 for a free estimate.