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To start, I am a home owner and mechanical engineer. I service my own oil burner for the most part (OJT), but if I get over my head I call my plumber. Unfortunately my plumber can no longer be contacted. So before I try and find someone I could trust, I figured I would give this a try. Roughly 2 weeks ago my burner stopped working. Noticed heavy smoke coming out of burner and realized it hasn't been tuned in a while. So I vacuumed out the burner, replaced the nozzle, and changed my external filter (3" diameter x 4"). That seemed to do the trick. Just last night (between 7-10 days after servicing) my burner had the same problem, smoke. Took it a part and it was clogged up again. So I vacuumed it again, replaced nozzle, and filter. This time the filter compartment did not fill up right away. I disconnected the tube and it seemed to unclog. The burner is now working again. What I failed to mention was that last year I had the same problem and it turned out that the (not sure what it is called) casing that surrounds the nozzle was cracked. My plumber replaced it with a used casing (goes from the head to the burner box). I checked the casing and I cannot see any cracks. My oil tank is roughly 1/4 filled. Do you think it's because my oil tank is low and crap from the tank is clogging my filter/nozzle causing it to mis-fire and create the soot or is it possible the casing could be acting up. I did order more oil hoping it would solve the problem. What's your thoughts? I starting to get tired of servicing my own burner, does any one know a reasonable serviceman in the Medford, NY area I could rely on in an emergency?