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HELP! 1986 Magic Chef oil furnace w/ Beckett burner HELP!

PDBETTY Member Posts: 3
HELP! 1986 Magic Chef oil furnace w/ Beckett burner HELP!


Pro's and folks w/ similar experiences/issues/products are ESPECIALLY welcome to comment on anything that doesn't seem right here and/or provide advice!

I have owned my home for 7 years and still have the original magic chef oil furnace w/ beckett burner that was installed in 1986 when my house was built. No issues until recently, 2 months after having it cleaned/tuned by a new oil guy (which there aren't too many oil service guys left here in my Upstate, NY area any more).

Exactly 2 mths after he cleans/tunes, we have him come back d/t a burning plastic/electrical smell coming up through our vents.

He immediately replaces the blower motor ($360 including his $60 diagnosis visit...a part that cost him less than $50) and is on his way after being here for only 1 hr.

1 hour after he leaves, there's this strong sweet chemical smell filling our house. I call and text him and he calls me back and tells me he'll be there later in the afternoon but never tells me to turn it off in case of CO2...I WISELY chose to do that on my own...even though it's 35* outside here.

So he comes here, spends a cpl hrs messing around w/ the furnace/troubleshooting, turning it on/off over and over...cleans the firebox and puts silicone around holes and the firebox viewing window and then tries to re-start it...won't start or stay going now.

He then tells us the end cone needs to be replaced d/t a crack (which he told us this was the case when he did the annual svc just 2 mths ago but stated that the crack is not causing a problem at this point). He places a smaller than recommended nozzle in temp so he can get the furnace working temp until he gets the end cone and tube. He calls me the next morning w/ a $262 + tax quote to install the end cone, tube and flange.

I shop around w/ only 1 other well known HVAC service company and get a quote of $180 + tax for the exact same job.

I am planning to go with the well known company at the lower price rather than this new guy/independent freelancer who may know oil furnaces but comes w/ no reviews or any background to check like the other company offers a LOT of.

Unfortunately both guys are telling me that I'm going to have to get a new furnace soon, esp the new company I plan to switch to now since they have a vested interest in installing new furnaces/making profit while the other guy had no interest in installing or selling me a new furnace and referred me to someone else if I wanted a new furnace but he'd do the service/tune annually.

OK...I rambled a bit but wanted it all to be out there...Does this end cone and tube replacement sound like it should fix the problem?

How can I be sure that they won't damage my old furnace further so that they finally get their way and force me to purchase a new one which I can't afford right now at all?

Any and all advice, feedback is GREATLY appreciated.

Thank you in advance!


  • rm72
    rm72 Member Posts: 13
    Broken heat x changer

    I think your heat x changer has a crack. This will cause bad combustion and will cause carbn monoxide into your house.
    PDBETTY Member Posts: 3
    edited January 2012
    HELP! 1986 Magic Chef oil furnace w/ Beckett burner HELP!

    Thx rm72! Could you expand on your thoughts on why you think it's the heat exchanger?

    I know that after the independent guy installed the blower motor, he said he did a test and was getting combustion eff of 79% (though he never showed me these figures, nor did I see him w/ an analysis machine) and said that that's normal for this old of a furnace. Ironically, the comb eff rating was documented as 86% right after he cleaned/tuned the furnace (which he said he was using a borrowed analysis machine) back exactly 2 mths ago and that was with the end cone that he said was cracked but he didn't see any issue w/ it at that point. When he returned to my house the next day d/t the NEW strong sweet chemical odor in my house coming from the vents, after the previous night that he diagnosed the blower motor as the hum and electrical burn smell thru the vents and installing the blower motor, he now seemed to have no answer after playing around and shutting it on and off a ton so he finally decided that "it MUST be" the cracked end cone...which seemed for lack of a better diagnosis/option. He insisted that the heat exchanger was good, not sure exactly how he knew that. . Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts, as well as others?

  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997

    diagnosis are hard. Carbon monoxide has no smell, which is why it is so deadly. A co/smoke detector is a good purchase for any home btw.  I would suggest you have another tech come in for a full inspection of your system to see if the HX is cracked. A 25 year old system is a good canidate for the scrap yard, but make sure you have a heat loss done to see if you have a properly sized system.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385

    That is something that we don't discuss or offer too much comment on, but whether it be a direct drive motor, or belt, it costs more than $50 to buy. As far as the blast tube/end cone, it burnt for a reason. That furnace was first an Armstrong, then Air Ease, then Magic Chef, and finally Armstrong again. I think you can still get heat exchangers for them, but they are close to the cost of a new furnace. The chamber failure was common for them, and trained eyes should have been monitoring that, and reline if needed. They were an awesome furnace IMHO, and I have many still going strong. They have had chamber maintenance along the way if needed, and is short money. I am curious on his chamber cleaning, and sealing with silicone? Sounds like this guy has no regard for your health and safety. A temporary fix can be done to get it thru until replacement, if it has burnt thru, but I wouldn't trust just anyone with that. The blast tube assembly and endcone is small money- part and labor, or at least it should be.
  • rm72
    rm72 Member Posts: 13
    broken heat x changer

    if the heat x changer is cracked excessive heat effects the oil burner badly. first the end cone then the rest. PLEASE INSTALL A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR
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