Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

weil mclain oil boiler help please

hh409 Member Posts: 14
Some advice please



I have a weil-mclain oil boiler model  P-WGO-4  series #3 14 years old

supplied by a very old in ground 550 gallon oil tank installed in 1955.

as best as i can tell there is no evidence of leaking or water in the fuel etc.

i plan to have it removed soon and so i have been getting deliveries 150 gallons at a time as i prepare to have a 275 or 330 tank installed in the basement. the burner is a weil-mclain burner model QB-180 which i understand is no longer manufactured, every technician from the oil company says this burner is junk and should be replaced by a becket burner.

since the last fill i find the boiler in a pattern of attempting to start sputtering and either going into a red light solid lockout mode or red light blinking recycle mode. the oil company has come twice over the last two weeks and replaced the filter,nozzel,light photo sensor and cleaned around the nozzel. however its still acting unreliable and locking out 50% of the time. my research tells me that this is usually a symptom of low fuel or a clogged line. do you guys think that this could be caused by something else? perhaps only 150 gallons of fuel in an old 550 gallon tank that most likely has a lot of sludge in it? the "lousey" weil-mclain burner itself? could it be something electrical, relay, transformer, aquastat?

additionally after i do install a new tank in the basement do you think a new becket burner will make a difference? as stated above the boiler is only 14 years old.

any advice will be much appreciated


  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Water or air in oil system..

    Your service co can do a simple paste and stick test to check for water content, as fas as air it could be the problem as could many other factors ... With 150 gain a 550 ga tank that gives you around 15 inches of fuel so your pickup tubing should be plenty deep in oil, now if there is a hole in the line somewhere that would create a problem...

    When you hit the reset does it smoke or rumble upon startup, or does it run and start with a delay do you have to hit the reset multiple times before it starts?

    Next would be your burner, the wm burners are kind of a pain but they do the job and most parts are readily available, I wouldn't change it until it needed to be changed , for all intents and purposes it should last as long as the boiler, it has worked for this long... Just need to get someone in there that knows how to finesse it into running rite... Maybe print out the settings that wm says to start with and give them to the tech.

    I have noticed a burner like that that has been molested by multiple techs , can usually be brought back from the dead by starting over, test the parts ( pump,transformer,relay,electrodes,motor,relay,ect) then reset all settings to the factory recommendations ( electrode gaps,z,pump psi,nozzle, air mixture,ect) then a good cleaning and fine tune the air with a good combustion analyzer. It may take 2 hours but when you are done you will be back to how it ran when it was new...

    When ever I get a new customer with burner problems I recommend this, wether its a Wayne, becket, Reillo, ect. Getting the cleaned up and starting over helps 99percent of the problems...
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505

    It's hard to diagnose your problem with the info provided. Even worse, was someone started changing parts without figuring out the problem.

    I have a number of QB burners in my customer base (9 or 10 I think), some work great, some ok, some not so ok. Yes parts are hard to come by, but still available. If you call Weil McClain, they will direct you to the right place.

    That being said, I would switch to another oil company..."this burner is junk" is a pretty poor, unprofessional diagnosis. Could be as simple as the head adjustment. If they checked everything properly, they should've found the problem.

    Sure a new burner might help, and might be what you need to do in the future, but why give them that business.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • burnerman_2
    burnerman_2 Member Posts: 297
    Fuel Supply

    You could replace the burner but if it's the fuel suuply it will not help. Try running a tempory supply 5 gallon can to burner if it runs perfect.. fuel supply. may be an issue, there are so many things it could be like said pin hole in line sluge at opening of supply dirty pump screen ect ect but to find out what it is you must elimanate what it is not... I to work on a few burners like this one not my favorite but they work ok. I had a 550 run out the other day put in 5 gallons and it ran til the fuel Truck came..ps maybe a tiger loop....also may help
  • Alan Welch
    Alan Welch Member Posts: 270
    Pump strainer

    Often overlooked, seldom checked, especially on a 2 pipe system common on underground tanks. 
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    QB Burners:

    You need a new service company. The QB burners are not "Junk" and certainly not worse than the one that they are recommending. If you have an underground tank, your problem starts right there. It is as full of crap as a Thanksgiving Turkey. If they have not installed TWO SPIN-ON FILTERS, they are incompetent and do not have a clue of what they are dealing with. If it is "sputtering", the filter or nozzle strainer is plugged. If you don't have Spin-On's with a restriction gauge on one filter than how can you troubleshoot it? You can't.

    UST's: Get the oil out of that tank ASAP, Yesterday couldn't be soon enough. What I do is install a new tank in the cellar and pump the old FILTERED oil into the new tank. I put two spin-ons going to and from the pump and pump it into the tank. I have had to change filters on occasion before the UST is empty. Running the UST out is no excuse. DO IT NOW. And if and when you do it, put a few cans of "Juice" in it.

    QB Settings:

    A point is made here about multiple techs futzing with problem burners. Many techs seem to be unable to read or at least read and understand manufacturers maintenance manuals. I have felt from the beginning that there is an unspoken "ISSUE" with the QB and the reason for dropping it was some lame excuse about some no longer available part. I personally think that Weil-McLain may have been working with a burner company on the design and Weil-McLain dropped them behind their back. The first one I saw and installed looked so much like a burner I exclusively used that I thought it was a joint venture. Weil-McLain has vigorously denied this. But interestingly, as an adjustable head burner, the Yellow electrode adjustment gauge works as well on a QB as it does on my favorite burner. Between the yellow and red gauges, they seem to cover most all oil burner electrode settings.


    The nozzle that Weil-McLain recommends is difficult to come by and techs may have decided that their experience is better than the manufacturer and their choice is better. That's like walking in the woods and not marking the trail to get back to where you start. You can go back on the wrong trail and not know where you are going. No matter what nozzle is being used, when you or a tech replaces it, it must be running properly when they leave. If a few days or a week later, it is running like a sick dog, take out the nozzle, and take the strainer off a new nozzle of any size where the strainer is interchangeable, and put it on the old nozzle. Re-install it with the old nozzle and the new strainer. If it runs OK, the nozzle strainer is plugged. You can not tell if you just change the filter, pump strainer and nozzle. Especially if you have a canister type filter. With two Spin-On filters, 99.99% of nozzles I change on an annual basis do not need to be changed. I don't have any canister filters in my customer base. I have removed them all.

    I find that the burner of choice by your oil company is not the premier burner for a WGO. That one made in E. Longmeadow, MA (My favorite) or one made in Italy or assembled in Canada is a better choice.

    The first thing you need though is to get that tank out of use and use a in-cellar tank.

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Pump Strainers:

    If you use two Spin-On's, you will NEVER have a dirty pump strainer. Nor a plugged nozzle strainer.

    And for those that love General rag filter cartridge filters, General Filters owns Gar-Ber filters. I  guess that General recognized better filtration technologies and bought out the competition.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    QB burners

    I agree with Ice. Only problem with these burners, is that they disappeared , and parts are scarce. Your problem is evidently a fuel supply problem, and no burner in the world will run under those circumstances. If you do upgrade due to techs with little to no knowledge, I would go with a Carlin EZ-1 on that. They are the best match. My opinion is if the techs are just telling you it is "junk", they need to be more professional and explain to you why you need to spend $$$ to please them. Have they done vacuum tests? All fittings flare? As mentioned, stick the tank with water finding paste? Filters-brand/amount, and location? 1 or 2 pipe system? Underground tanks are taboo nowadays. I would install a 275 or 330 in the basement and be done with it. 
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,904
    I'll third that

    there is nothing wrong with the QB burners if set up properly. We keep the right nozzles in stock since we have a few of these burners in our customer base.

    But if you have natural gas available, you can have that boiler changed over with a Carlin EZ-Gas burner and the other items that go with it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    GO EZ-1 oil:

    And if you go with a Carlin GO-4 OEM direct replacement EZ-1, they now give you an addendum .85 GPH 70 degree B Delavan to be run at 140# pump pressure. They run sweet.

    Run with heavily filtered fuel and maintain 140 degrees warm start and you almost don't need to clean them.

    Almost, but not quite.

    A lot better than a *68 though.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    only thing worse than a 68

    was a Hydrotherm
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850

    The Hydrotherm oil fired boilers are just a re-packaged Smith series 8. What's wrong with them?

  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    go back in time

    to late 70's, early 80's. Early models had Wayne burners. Those were even worse than Hart & Crouse
  • fud215
    fud215 Member Posts: 12
    check valve

    sounds to me like a bad check valve. as for the qb burner i dont like it every time i have to put a motor on one its a nightmare you can't spin the fan like on every other burner there is a reason why they stopped using them after only about 3 years. more then likely youir current oil company is not wrong for wanting you to change the burner no one carries parts in there truck unlike the beckett,carlin or wayne parts. who wants to be without heat on a cold night because no onme has the parts. i was on a service call the other night and i had to make up a transformer because my supplier didn't have one in stock . 
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 440

    "as stated above the boiler is only 14 years old."

    driving an automobile only 14 years old?
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Will 13 work?

    90k miles, all is well.
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 440
    Sure Will

    but you and I are the exception. 93' with 176,000 daily driver.

    How old is your heating system?
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    heating system

    Work system just installed last year -- still working on controls.  1919 home recently purchased has a 10 year old direct vent gas stove and a non-functional 1950s-era floor furnace.   Previous house had a 1947 oil-fired Lennox furnace from which I learned much.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385

    are vehicles usually compared to heating equipment? I can almost understand the logic, but give me a 1957 Belair, but I'll pass on a 57 American Standard.
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 440

    most people drive vehicles younger than their heating system. If you have a vehicle that is 10 years old, it's old. However the boiler is only 14 years old. Why would you need a new car if it's only 14 years? It'll still work right?

    Here on Long Island there is a preponderance of late model vehicles, no one wants to have an old car. But they're generally fine with the old energy hog providing heat and hot water.

    What home improvement do you complete first: heating system replacement or kitchen remodel?

    You get it Bill, the 57' Chevy is cool, the AS not so much.
  • Ron Jr._3
    Ron Jr._3 Member Posts: 603
    Most people drive vehicles

    younger than their roof ........ their shed ......... their bathroom and kitchen ...........

    I can understand the logic that people always find a way to afford a 40 grand car , but can't find any money to upgrade their boiler that'll pay for itself faster than the end of the monthly car payments . But the logic only goes so far until someone can cruise down the pike in a Buderus with the top down ........
This discussion has been closed.