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Boiler keepssputtering, then tripping...

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73amc
73amc Member Posts: 9
Hey guys, first time poster here. Ive had nothing but issues with my heating system this year. My latest gripe is, the boiler is sputtering constantly and eventually trip the power unit. I then proceed to bleed the supply line and get a bunch of frothy oil with bubbles in it. I basically then reset the power control box and run the pump until the oil comes out without bubbles and then fires right up and runs until the next time it does this.

My set up consists of a boiler, 275 gallon oil tank outside the house. The tank and boiler are on the same level, so the pump has to pull the oil from the bottom up the tank, up about 5 feet at which point it goes down through the line in through the side of the house, into a filter and then into a pump. Single line system.

The guy we use to service the unit was out about a year ago, and mentioned something about a tiger loop. Is this something I should look into?

I cant go to sleep and wake up in the morning without coming down to a cold house because it tripped.

Everything else seems to work as it should. The tank is about 1/3 full. We do get our oil from some place cheap, but we've never really had this many issues. I was thinking about adding something to the oil in case there is water in it, but I know that every time it trips, I end up bleeding a ton of air bubbles out of it.

Where do they keep coming from???

Thanks in advance fellas!

-Justin

Comments

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited February 2015
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    Put in the Tigerloop.

    If you have a oil filter on the outside tank, remove it. Have the lone either replaced or blown out to get rid of sludge,

    Be sure that there are no compression fittings on the oil line. Once the oil flows from the tank and over the highest point, it is a syphon and the pump doesn't suck oil.

    Tigerloops remove air from oil.

    If the outside line is old and is full of sludge, it gets stiff when it is cold and causes high vacuum. Which forms gas bubbles that appear to be air. That "Air" is combustable.
  • 73amc
    73amc Member Posts: 9
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    Is the install pretty easy?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,438
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    It's easy enough -- for someone who is good with that sort of thing. It does have to be done right, though.

    If you never had trouble before, I'd make a quick guess that you have one of several problems -- some of which a tiger loop will fix, some which it won't. Some of the other possible problems: a fitting may have developed a small leak. If it is anywhere near the oil level, and it's cold out, there may be enough suction to draw in air, even though it is below the tank level. If it is above the tank level, it will draw air and there you go. You may also be seeing excessive suction. An outside tank is a recipe for cold oil -- and if the oil is inexpensive (a much nicer word than cheap...) it may be gelling. This will happily plug the filter -- or the fine filter on the nozzle or the nozzle, if it gets that far -- and you are out of luck. Or the oil may have enough water dissolved in it that ice crystals form -- which will also plug the filter, fine filter, or nozzle.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • burnerman_2
    burnerman_2 Member Posts: 297
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    If this is a short run 25 feet or less ... I'd check the pump screen first... I had 1 a few years ago the other company was ordering a new pump.. I said can I peek at it .. I was del. fuel .. sure enough screen was plugged cleaned it and they were good to go.. cost a lot less than a new pump...
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
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    Everything mentioned is sound advice. I would two pipe that run if it is not directly a gravity feed.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    @Larry:

    You must not like Tigerloops. Heavily used in that other universe, Europe. Why would you run another oil line when with a Tigerloop, and a Spin-On Filter installed before the Tigerloop with a vacuum gauge, you can measure the potential restriction and not have to run a second line? Which can easily end up costing more to install than the Tigerloop?

    I guess all those European countries that require them on all oil installs don't know something that some on this side of the big pond know.
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
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    Habit on two line, especially with riello burners. Have no negative comments at all against a tiger loop.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Larry said:

    Habit on two line, especially with riello burners. Have no negative comments at all against a tiger loop.

    Riello likes Tigerloops installed on their burners. The covers have special cover openings for the flex hoses to go from the pump to the Tigerloop.

    If you have a tank on a cold location, the oil will be cold and harder to burn. With a Tigerloop, the heat of compression and circulation through the pump and Tigerloop makes warmer oil and a better burn. You're always burning warm fuel.

  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
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    Now you lost me ice. A liquid pump does not gain heat through compression. All heat gained in the fluid is loss in pump efficiency do to 2nd law of thermo, with a non compressible liquid (ignoring any minute gases) this is friction and turbulence.

    Tigerlooping the pump bypass is a superior solution. It is just usually not in my bag of solutions to install when you walk in blind to a need it now situation. Many times copper tubing and pipe fittings are.

    Tigerlooping eliminates most air barring any major failure of piping, two piping only lowers its impact. Tigerlooping allows for a better prime due to the added capacity of the internal bypass creating a siphon, which the two pipe also does. As for added heat, no the tigerloop does not add any more heat than a normal one pipe bypass system, unless it reduces pump efficiency further than normal one pipe internal bypassing. Two piping oil burners will gain the equivalent amount of oil heat in the pump but lose it in the tank to surroundings.

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Please.

    A two pipe, running a circuit from the tank, through the pump and back to the tank is as cold as the mediums it passes through. 2 Pipe pumps circulate up to 20 GPH while using whatever they need to run. Cold sludgy oil will gel in a NY moment. Even form ice or condensate water on and in oil filters. If the same oil pump as a 2-pipe, circulates 20 GPH, in 10 hours of running, it has filtered 2,000 gallons of oil. A Tigerloop runs the same amount of oil in the same time, but with a 1 GPH nozzle, it uses 10 gallons of oil but circulates 2,000 gallons of oil. The friction of going round and round in the fuel pump and the Tigerloop warms the oil. The filter being connected to the Tigerloop inlet, filters 10 gallons of fuel in 10 hours.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,438
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    It is, perhaps, instructive to look at how the problem is solved in really big diesels: that is, railroad locomotives. They generally do not indulge in oil treatment for gelling and water removal -- expense. What they do do is run at least a two to one (at full power) and a lot more at low power more oil from the tank to the injectors, and the excess is routed near the exhaust manifolds to get nice and warm -- then back to the tank. It works. You don't have to warm the oil all that much to prevent problems (one might add, though, that starting one of those things when it is below freezing is somewhere between difficult and fuhgeddabahtit, unless they have a keep warm system).

    In aircraft practice that isn't feasible and having your oil gell or freeze at the wrong time can ruin your whole day -- so the flyboy types spend good money to get fuel with anti-ice and anti-gel characteristics or additives. Otherwise it's about the same stuff.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    In Korea we had a 30KW standby generator on top of a mountain in case base site power failed. The gen was in a cinderblock building with no heat - in Korea, on top of a mountain. It gets very cold over there.

    We kept 4ea 150w par 38 floodlamps about 3" from the engine block with a blanket over everything. Without those lamps the gen would not start in the winter, somebody checked those lamps every day.

    Eventually they sent us a block heater.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
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    20X10=200
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
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    Treat the outside tank's fuel
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited February 2015
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    Have you ever seen a 2-pipe oil filter, from an outside tank, covered in frost in a cold basement from moisture in the air? I have. And gelled filters. Fulfo's and Generals. The only way it got cold was the 20 GPH flowing through the filter. With a Tigerloop, you have 20 GPH flowing from the pump and through the Tigerloop, and 1 GPH through the filter. Then back again. It uses 1 GPH to burn the fuel. If the tank outside is 30 degrees and it is 50 inside, the slow moving product, flowing through the inlet will gain heat from the room at the slow velocity. Not so when running at 20 GPH through a 1/4" ID tube.

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Unless you have worked on as much oil as I have for 50 years, you might be wrong.

    A 40' length of 3/8" OD/1/4" ID copper tube holds .102+/- gallons. Minuscule as far as FPM/FPS is concerned.

    Maybe you haven't spent the quality time I have spent in cold locations. Like cold cellars where the heat went off and I was waiting for the pumps to start running so I can check for frozen pipes.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Well, that works for you. It never worked for me, but I'm glad it works for you.

    Standard oil fuel pumps connected as 2 pipes aren't supposed to run at more than 12" of vacuum. Unless you spring for a 2 stage pump. Tigerloops suck far higher.

    Just keep in mind, if you ever get really in a jam, and nothing works, it might be time to consider a Tigerloop. It might save your butt. It sure saved mine on numerous occasion. After all, they are used all over the world, In some European Countries, they are mandatory if you have to lift. If the line breaks, it won't suck a tank dry and cause an environmental dilemma.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    "" I never have to lift (other than the height of the tank but that becomes a siphon once primed). ""

    Once primed. Its trying to prime it as a single one pipe with no By-Pass plug in place. A Tigerloop primes it without using the bleed screw. Just like a 2-pipe. You're not supposed to need to use the bleed screw to prime a 2-pipe pump. Like a Tigerloop.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    "" "Primed" was probably a bad choice of term. One might be led to believe that some intervention is necessary to achieve "prime". ""

    What else would you call it?

    "" As you accurately noted, none is required on two pipe. ""

    If you turn on the appliance and no product flows put and something has to be done to get said product to deliver, its done though "priming".

    A shallow well jet pump must be "primed" by running the pump with the impellers submerged and the vacuum pressure which causes atmospheric pressure pushing the product to the impellor, expelling the air. A deep well jet water pump has the jet inside the well casing and the casing and jet have to be filled with water. You can run the pump until it melts. It won't pump until the casing and pipes/pump is filled with water. As soon as the pump starts, the water flows. The only difference between a Tigerloop and the way a jet pump works are slightly different but work the same way.
  • Don_197
    Don_197 Member Posts: 184
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    I Love You Guys.......this was great.....thanks.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    You don't know water pumps.
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
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    Hatterasguy is correct to not call it a prime as the burner pump is typically some form of POSITIVE DISPLACEMENT gear pump. These type pumps are self priming, limited on the suction lift capability. The proper term is BLEED, you need to bleed a one pipe burner to get oil to the burner as the internal recirc does not allow any suction flow. All of your analogies are based on centrifugal pumps. The tiger loop assists in the one pipe bleed because it has oil capacitance in the recirc circuit and removes air which allows the pump to get oil moving. That is why all burners on one pipe require you to bleed the first time. The pump can self prime if it has somewhere to put the oil.

    The whole 12" vacuum would be a suction lift limit which does not change wether the pump has a tiger or does not. Or to counter you tigerloops "don't suck", the pump does.