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Possible Air Leak?

Gary07 Member Posts: 3
My oil burner has been locking out recently. I use supplemental wood heat and when I'm using the wood stove, the oil burner often cuts out once or twice a day. The burner is a Becket RWB with a Suntec A2VA 7116 pump and is hooked up to an underground tank approximately 40' away (single pipe). Most of the line (~35') runs under the crawl space, with only about 5' - 8' underground to the tank. I have a gauge at the filter and it reads 7" vac with the unit locked out. It looks like the original copper pipe was replaced, or maybe this was a two pipe system, as another copper pipe runs parallel to the supply line but is not connected at the boiler.

I got under the crawl space the other day and could not find any noticeable holes in or oil staining on the supply line, with only a little corrosion here or there. The other line appeared similar, but with more corrosion visible.

Could the oil pump be letting air in? Is the air most likely coming from the line?

Thanks for the help.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,196
    If it's reading a vacuum you don't have an air leak. However, the pump may have lost prime anyway.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited November 2014
    If it has an abandoned second line running parallel with another working connected line, they must have installed a "Tigerloop".

    More likely, if you have a Beckett AFG, and they have installed a "Tigerloop", you are getting a carbon build up on the outside of the end cone where the nozzle and spark spray through. The spark is grounding out on the carbon. Take the electrode/nozzle assembly by undoing the oil line where it goes into the burner housing. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, LOOSEN THE SCREW THAT HOLDS THE NOZZLE ASSEMBLY IN PLACE!!!!!. Lift up the transformer cover and remove the assembly. Stick your paw down the tube and stick your finger in the hole in the middle. If you feel hard carbon deposits on the chamber side. scrape them off with a old 1/2" or 3/4" copper fitting brush. The best ones have wire handles.

    Don't play with the electrode wires.

    When you hit the power switch, you should immediately hear what sounds like "scratching". If all is silent, and you don't hear the sound of scratching, you may have other issues.

    What type of oil filter do you have? A "Spin on like the oil filter on your car or a canister that you put a sock in? The nozzle strainer can be plugged up if it is the later.

    Loosing pump prime isn't as much of an issue with a Tigerloop because there is enough oil stored in the cap to run the burner until it can pick up oil and overcome a vacuum leak at the pump.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    If you are drawing that much vacuum, and it is holding while the unit is out on safety, you have a restriction, and not an air leak. If you had an air leak, you would create a zero vacuum reading. May be time to either run a new line, replace a bad foot valve, look for a partially closed valve, broken thermal valve wheel, plugged filters, strainer, or better yet consider an above ground tank. Have the unused return line inspected by a pro. If it is in good shape, and is at the right depth inside the tank, you can use it for supply line, if the present feed line problem can not be solved.
  • Gary07
    Gary07 Member Posts: 3
    Icesailor: the filter is a Gar-Ber spin off type. I replaced the filter and the nozzle a few months ago when the first lock-out occurred.

    Billtwocase: yes I still had 7" of vac after at least 4 hours of the unit being locked out. The tank seems to be pretty clean (i.e. very little if any sludge at the bottom of the tank below the fill), and presently has 18" of oil in it. It only takes a second or two to bleed the line before I get decent flow. When I close the bleeder valve it fires right up.

    Also - there are no valves on the supply line before the filter.

    From what you guys have posted, maybe I'll try to check the filter, end cone, and then the pump strainer. These sound like the easiest to start with...

    Any other thoughts? I've also attached a photo of the unit (if it posts properly). Thanks again.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    That's bad. No Tigerloop. You are trying to use the fuel pump as a transfer pump to lift oil out of the tank. You have 7" of vacuum on the oil pump seal. When it is using a 2 pipe system or a Tigerloop, the by-pass plug is in place and you DO NOT use the bleed screw to vent the line. Whomever dropped the second line didn't do you any favors. There is your problem. Install or have a Tigerloop installed. And be SURE that they put the By-Pass plug back in.
  • Gary07
    Gary07 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks IceSailor. I've seen some videos and am considering installing the tigerloop myself (I'm moderately mechanically inclined...). Was going to order the Tigerloop Ultra S220-9 (has the filter with the Tigerloop). This is compatible with my setup, correct?

    Conversely, how much does a typical Tigerloop install cost (I'm on the eastern shore of MD)?

    Thanks again!
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    We don't discuss price or cost here. And I haven't a clue what it might cost to have it installed in Maryland.

    First off, if you have a UST, you should get it out ASAP. If your insurance company doesn't know you have one, they might not cover a failure.

    Install an inside tank, and a Tigerloop. Suck out and burn all the remining old oil out of the UST so not to get nicked for all the old oil, and when it runs out, switch to the newly connected tank and Tigerloop. All oil burners run more reliably with a Tigerloop.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,388
    edited November 2014
    If you're going to keep the underground tank (I strongly recommend you listen to Ice), first I would disconnect the oil line before the filter, and using a push/pull pump, pump the oil back to the tank to clear the restriction. As said you'll need a bypass plug (most important!), some brass fittings/nuts, the Tiger Loop Ultra (which has the recommended fire-matic valve, 2 flex lines, and a flaring tool. I know you want to save money, but get a pro in there to do it once and right! Let the tech properly clean your boiler and set it up with combustion equipment.
    PS Steamhead (on this site) is probably in your area. Just a TigerLoop is most likely a 1 hour job at most.
    BTW, are you sure the vacuum gauge works?
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    That looks like a Garber OEM "Restriction gauge". They are off on a good day, right out of the box. Some don't have a "zero" peg. No matter. When the gauge is unscrewed, and the pressure is zero, mark the place with a permanent marker where "zero" is. Then, see what it says.

    That REALLY is bad. Along with the AP New Yorker boiler.