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Megasteam sooting up

Fellas: I installed my 513 this year, got it going well enough (that's a homeowner term, not a professional one), and since Mrs had heat, I switched to other things before I got a chance to insulate the Header, fine-tune the burner, etc.
My combustion tester is missing the smoke tester and tests for o2 instead of co2, so I figured I'd find a used Bacharach or something, but again... I didn't get to that yet, with transfer case on the truck and the new window install, and roof at mother-in-law's...etc.
Anyway, tonight, I heard an interesting rumble coming from the boiler, and upon inspection, found soot and flame coming backward out of the inspection hole. I immediately shut down. I still have good draft at the base of the chimney (access at the cleanout) but had a big pile of soot there. I cleaned it all out, ran my brush up the chimney, adjusted the air by sight again (more air/less smoke), and it seems better.
I plan to find a contractor to come and tune it (can be done quicker than me finding an affordable combustion tester), but there are none in my area (12575). In the meantime, does anyone have any ideas about the soot? It seems like an awful lot for just 6 weeks service. I will cleanout the boiler passages tomorrow.

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  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,894
    Yup- an oil burner that's out of tune can soot up a boiler rather quickly. You just proved it.

    Get yourself a smoke tester first. O2 and CO2 are related so you can run with just an O2 value for now. First order of business is ZERO smoke.

    We can usually get a 13% CO2 level on a MegaSteam while still leaving enough headroom to maintain zero smoke even if the air or oil supply changes (temperature, density etc). This translates to an O2 of 3.3%. We never leave the burner on the bleeding edge where reducing the air any further produces smoke, for this reason.

    Also, make sure the proper nozzle is installed and the head is set to specs.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • ThermalJake
    ThermalJake Member Posts: 127
    Okay - here's the deal; I found a CO2 tester, and a new smoke tester and draft gauge. However they will be delivered over the next week or so.
    Therefore, I searched for some locals who could come help me to do the efficiency test (I already did the cleanout), but no one... so I called my oil delivery company who came this morning for a small(er) fee than he whole annual visit.

    During the test, a few things interested me...

    first, he said the draft over the fire was about .04, and at the test hole in the vent pipe it was about .05 - .06. He adjusted the draft regulator farther open than it was, to get this reading. But in our discussion, he mentioned that maybe the chimney wasn't tight - as if maybe there was other air being sucked into the vent. This seems like the opposite of my intuition; If I open the draft regulator more, then I'm reducing the power of the chimney sucking up the draft... right? For example, he might have had a reading of .09 or .10, and then adjusted it down to .05 by opening up the draft regulator. The manual says the one should seek a 0 at the breech and .04 with the baffles in place over the fire. If the internals of the triple-pass resist the draft to some extent, then the draft at the fire should be less than the draft at the breech - which will need adjustment to get it to zero - is that right? In other words, too little draft needs a pump or a longer chimney (or a liner), while too much draft needs a draft regulator that is opened up more. It seems like his comments and his actions were conflicted. So once I get my new draft gauge, I'll check to see if I should open it farther.

    Secondly, I set up the burner according to mfg specs, band 1, plate 7. The nozzle is right and the z dimension is right. After the sootup, I added more air by bringing it up to a band 3 until I could get some new equipment - good, no smoke. He did the smoke test and was just going to leave it. I talked him into reducing it back to 2, then 1 and still got no smoke. I fear that the smoke was from something else (cold oil, barometric pressure, etc), but I cant tell until I get my test equipment. At least I know for now, that it as set with no smoke and good draft. And stack temp stabilized at 350 degrees.

    Any thoughts? Questions? Advice?

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