Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
In fairness to all, we don't discuss pricing on the Wall. Thanks for your cooperation.
Need to contact us? Visit

Importance of combustion gas testing?

MJJKMJJK Member Posts: 9
My Thermo-dynamics hot water steel boiler S-110, (installed new, October 26, 2012), is equipped with a Beckett AFG oil burner (F3 head), upon which is installed an Aquasmart 7600 boiler control, Genisys 7505 burner control, solenoid valve, and Beckett igniter) just had its first annual maintenance/cleaning.

Because we now have a new company servicing this equipment, I want to learn everything I can about the burner components. This is our 3rd boiler since our house was built in 1972. The first 2 boilers were cast iron (Repco and HB Smith). I used to service our 1st boiler (Repco). I had taken an oil burner technician course and I purchased the necessary testing equipment. I worked on it for 17 years. I became quite knowledgeable and had it running as well as it could. I did not service our 2nd boiler.

During the recent service appointment of our new unit, the top was removed, for cleaning, and there was no soot present. I was amazed. The technician attributed that to the Beckett Heat Manager system. Does this sound correct?

My one concern is, that the technician, after installing a new nozzle and oil filter, adjusted the air while looking at the flame, using the flame inspection window. He did not use any instrumentation whatsoever. Can this be an “OK” way of making the proper adjustment to the final flame?

I was considering purchasing a Fieldpiece SOX2 combustion check meter. This instrument seems like it would provide the necessary data to get the most out of the oil burning process.


  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,380
    You're right to be concerned

    do not let that "technician" touch your boiler again. Find a company that uses the analyzer on every unit. There is no way to set a flame by eye- no way, no how. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Magic eye's:

    Your "new tech" must have one of those MAGIC EYES. I tried for over 40 years to develop mine and still haven't developed one. Around 1978, I bought my first Bacharach "Firerite" Wet Kit. After a while, I got pretty good with it, but I never developed that "MAGIC EYE" that so many of my competitors had developed from just looking at the flame. Funny, when I went on a service call to correct a recently serviced unit, I could never see what they saw and the instrument saw that said that it was wrong..

    A few years ago, I upgraded to a Bacharach electronic "Insight". I never had time to be looking at the flame because I watched the changes with the instrument readout. A rude awakening. I still haven't developed that :Magic Eye" that so many of my passed on competition bragged about.

    You sound like you are interested and not technologically challenged. If you really care, and want to learn and do what the others with the MAGIC EYE claim they can do, buy a Bacharach Firerite "Insight" analyzer. It is easy to use, and does all other gasses that you might come in contact with. Like LP or natural gas because oil is a thing of the past. And if you switch to one of those wall hung beer cooler thingy's, there is no way you can even think about doing anything with it. You can't see the flame. That Magic Eye won't help you there.

    If you like Turkey for thanksgiving, just the turkey with nothing else is like a wet kit. If you want the whole dinner W/stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots and all the other stuff that makes the meal, buy an electronic one. I like the Bacharach Insight. The price is right for a complete kit with a CD. Experience makes perfect.

    Just my opinion.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 1,500
    The reason why...

    You had no soot after the first year, is because the installer set it up right--proper draft, 0 smoke, etc. The Heat Manager probably did help because it didn't let the boiler condense.

    Listen to the other 2 responders, analyzer every time. You can't see the difference between 0 smoke and 1 smoke by looking at it. But you'll see the difference next cleaning.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    First Set-Up:

    Or he was just lucky.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 1,500

    Probably right.  Turned it works!!!!
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited December 2013
    Magic Eye:

    Test fired at the factory with the plastic bung plugs still in place and all 1/4" black steel plugs still in the fuel pump. And no exhaust oil smell inside the boiler.
  • billtwocasebilltwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    I will add

    I have always used my eyes first, and then the tester. I won't bother testing a flame that looks to be impinging, lacks air, or is too "clean". Nothing wrong with knowing what the right fire "looks" like. I think techs should know what to look for, and not just flip the switch and jab a Testo or something in a smoke pipe hole. If he tested and shared the results, I would see no wrong done here. All manufactures setting are starting points. I like to see that starting point, the adjust and test from there personally. 
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    If you get a "Burner In A Box" set-up as an OEM, you know that there will be a minimum amount of adjustments after you start.

    If you use an analyzer, and you have looked at finished flames, you know what they should look like, you just don't know what's in it.
  • Patchogue PhilPatchogue Phil Member Posts: 263
    Eye vs analyzer


    I'm just curious,  how close do you get with your eyes and then using the analyzer?
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    I can't tell:

    I can't tell. It looks the same to me. I've put my digital ohm meter on the eye and I can't see what the Ohm meter sees.

    Last Spring, I straightened out a 3+ Million BTU Steam Boiler with a Power Flame GO-3 gas/oil burner on it that had been running on oil but the gas piping was screwed up. Massachusetts Gas Code requires that an authorized representative of the burner manufacturer had to be there for the initial firing. This older gentleman (younger than I) showed up to set up the gas and bless it. The settings for the gas and oil are the same. To switch over, all you do is flip a switch. So, once you get the gas going, you adjust the oil. The oil pump was 300#, but the pressure to the 24 GPH nozzle was regulated by a mechanical pressure valve with a pressure adjustment. I had to install a 300 pressure gauge between the valve and the HP line going into the burner. The only way to see the flame was to go to the other end of the boiler, over 10' away and look through the view port at the breath of the fire spewing dragon. The Gentleman had a close personal relationship with his Testo analyzer. When we had it running and a big load on the boiler, the numbers on the testo were what they were. He had me raise the pressure and you could see the CO go down and all the numbers he wanted. You could hear a slight change but based on what? The entire adjustment to the burner was made through the oil pressure through the nozzle.

    If I was still doing it, I'd be playing "Fun With Pressures" with my analyzer. Carlin's have been 140# for years, Some Riello's are at 160# + and even newer Beckett's are jacking up the pressure.

    Analyzers ROCK!!
  • billtwocasebilltwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    damn close Phil

    You gotta know where you came from to know where you are going
  • Jim DavisJim Davis Member Posts: 578
    looking at flame

    Not sure if any of you ever observed the combustion readings on your analyzers with the inspection door closed and then opened.  I liken it to looking into a refrigerator to see how dark it was before the door opened. You have to be fast!!

    The Fieldpiece does not do CO and oil can make high levels even at zero smoke.  Any CO over 100ppm on oil at any time of the operation, indicates a definite problem.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Didn't they EOL the SOX2 last year?

    Not sure what changed, but the SOX3 is current.  Still no CO measurement, though.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    Kind of like the one and only "sniff" you get when checking water for Hydrogen Sulfide. Draw the water and you get ONE sniff. That's all. It's all gone. Hand it to someone else and they don't get the smell.

    My old late boss used to tell me, "You only get one peek at the fire breathing dragon".
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 2,488

    I admit to not using analyzer on oil in the old days when a lot of the equipment was coal converted equipment. And usually you could with experience adjust the flame ok if the burner was burning correctly.

    Now with oil and gas you would be a fool not to use an analyzer especially with the new equipment.

    I still like to adjust with my eyes to see how close I can get but in reality your not going to get their without an analyzer
This discussion has been closed.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!