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Could hooking the line on an oil furnace to the gauge port on the pump do damage?

MikeHow
MikeHow Member Posts: 12
Hello everyone, thanks in advance for any help you can provide me. In March of last year, I had the fuel pump on a mobile home oil/kerosene furnace replaced by a Jr. tech. Half his tools were broken, van was a mess, etc... took two hours and my helping him to install the pump.

Well, he hooked the burner line to the gauge port and it ran (kinda)... what I mean is that I had to bleed it a few times to regain prime, my "logic" was that maybe since he'd blasted so many cartridges of CO2 through the line that it just had some trapped air that needed a few bleedings.

Two more warranty calls and Jr. techs that tried a bit of tightening here and there (5 minute visits), neither tech noticed that it was hooked up wrong. So, I ended up running it all this winter with an every 2 weeks bleed (up until 2 days ago). FINALLY, the third warranty call, they sent a Sr. tech! He noticed the problem within minutes, had to remove the pump and salvage a plug from a new pump... but got me set up right (even did a "above flame" CO test, through the "keep closed" gloryhole).

I'd thought everything was fine and I could concentrate on having this terrible toothache taken care of. I was wrong, the furnace ran great for a day and a half, last night I heard the flame stop during the beginning of the cycle. It tripped the reset while we were asleep (chilly morning). I can bleed it and get heat for maybe 7 or 8 cycles. Same Sr. tech will be here Monday morning.

My question: Is it possible that having the burner line hooked to the gauge port in any way damaged my furnace or the new fuel pump?

Thanks, hope you're all warm (and toothache free)

Comments

  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    P.S. If it is any help, the pump is a Suntec A2 VA 7116. They used the side inlet for the "feed" from the tank. Single pipe system. I'd heard a loud "ptang" like metal on metal when I went to check the tank to see if I could hear his CO2 going through. I was assured that he couldn't have blown out any check valve (foot valve) since it's an above ground tank (highest point of the line is at around 52" inches off the ground, top fed tank, the fuel pump is about 24" off the ground. The supply line sits on the ground for about 40 feet.

    This pump:
    http://www.suntecpumps.com/PDFs/A2 VA 7116_dec2014.pdf
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,010
    Sounds like you are "lifting" the oil out of the tank the suction line between the burner pump and the oil tank have to be 100% absolutely air tight. If you have to bleed the pump all the time I suspect a suction leak.

    The gage port and the nozzle port on the pump are the same except for 1 very important function.

    When the burner starts oil will be immediately be pumped out of the gage or bleed port if they are open or used for the nozzle port even if the oil is not yet at atomizing pressure (about 100psi or higher)

    The nozzle port runs through a pressure regulator. It will not let oil through to the nozzle until 90-100psi is reached. When the burner shuts off the pressure regulator shuts the flow of oil to the nozzle quickly to ensure a clean flame shut off.

    Using the gage port for the nozzle could be dangerous. It could flood the combustion chamber with oil or cause the furnace and burner to soot up

    hate to say it but your service organization doesn't sound too swift

    MikeHowGrallert
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    edited January 2017
    Thank you EBEBRATT I actually understand what you've told me here! This company is fantastic... they started out in the '50's... I think the issue is that they've done some "corporate restructuring". Got rid of the higher paid veterans and brought in kids. I appreciate that they need to learn, it would be nice if they had some sort of internship with a pro though!

    When it was hooked up WRONG, a "mid-level" tech checked the pressure by unscrewing the nozzle side and hooking a gauge to the line coming out of the gauge port... he said it was reading 125 psi, which he said was high end of the range and that my heat would just be a bit warmer. He seemed more knowledgeable, he'd been working on HVAC for 10 years or so... BUT, he did completely miss this. Part of the issue is that there has been 4 different people here, possibly the "kid" would have seen his screw up if he'd come back.

    I also understand the line needs to be 100% sealed... hopefully that's all that is wrong now and the Sr. tech can fix it on Monday, ran fine all day today, after the morning bleed. I DID think I was smelling faint kero from the vents... so I get that their wasn't complete combustion, rookie mistake I suppose... I'm frustrated that 3 Jr. techs didn't notice.

    I don't want to assume, but it sounds like you're telling me that it "shouldn't" have caused any permanent damage running that way for 3/4's of a season? Now that the problem has been addressed, it's likely a minor leak on the intake to the pump or one side of the nozzle line (one side isn't actually "doped").

    Thanks for your time, wasn't sure anybody would read this since I tend to write mini-novels.

    ~Mike

    Bedtime for me, have a good night... will check back in the a.m.
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    @EBEBRATT-Ed

    Wondering if you would mind being a sounding board again, I'll try to be less wordy this time around.

    Senior tech came back, tested pressure at the feed line for 10 minutes about... I find it hard to believe that a manual gauge would be sensitive enough to detect a tiny leak, but I'm not an HVAC guy. I do have confidence in this tech (not the other three idiots), since he immediately noticed the "wrong port" issue.

    Something just doesn't add up and you may be able to enlighten me... I'm not asking you to "teach" if you don't want to, just let me know if this sounds at all legit.

    Burner runs GREAT (no sputter, no flame loss), it did this last time too. Hopefully, Sr. tech happened upon a loose nut and fixed it. However, he wrote down on his sheet that there is no air leak and that the culprit is probably the ignitor, the cover does get pretty hot. This makes no sense to me that the ignitor would work fine for days, then I get the flame kicking on and off for a day, then no flame... still sounds like it's drawing air to me.

    I THINK that he was basically "signing off" on any further warranty visits. I still have a good feeling about the guy though, when I told asked him about changing the ignitor myself after watching a few Youtube vids and flipping the breaker. He actually told me that it's not too hard and I could handle it (unusual if he's lying).

    So, could the ignitor be causing my probs? Doesn't seem logical to me. After a couple vids... I'm also considering pulling the gun and checking the diodes though I don't think that's my issue... I may end up running a whole new feed line myself!

    Yea, I said I'd be brief... I guess I'm incapable of that! :smile:
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,010
    Hard to tell from here what is really wrong. If air leaks in the oil line are suspected the first thing is to install a pressure gage on the gage port and a vacuum gage on the inlet or suction port. The inlet vacuum shouldn't be more than about 12" under normal conditions. The pressure gage will read whatever pressure the pump is set for (depends on burner mfg. specs) but usually 100-140 psi.

    The most important thing is that the readings are steady and don't bounce. If the vacuum is high you look for obvious signs of restriction , plugged filter, kinked oil line, plugged oil line.

    As far as ignition, lack of ignition and flame failures there's a long list.

    electrode adjustment
    cracked electrode insulators
    bad ignition transformer
    plugged nozzle
    Burner out of adjustment (air band)
    MikeHow
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Yes @EBEBRATT-Ed , I get the limitations of long distance diagnosis and appreciate your responses. He did check gage and inlet... gage was 100psi as it's supposed to be, inlet actually rose SLIGHTLY over the 10 minutes he had it hooked up... my guess to that is that since the feed line goes up, then down, perhaps the inlet pressure moved a bit simply due to gravity forcing the kero at 52" feed height downward... increase doesn't seem like it would signify a leak (in my mind, at least).

    Bleeding it, I get a nice steady stream (after air is removed). Since it's kero, there isn't any filter and the line was blown out with CO2.

    It just seems an odd coincidence that it would run fine, then the pump goes... then coincidentally, the ignitor is bad. I saw him do the spark test on the ignitor... afterward I watched a video on what the spark "should" look like (consistent, able to be drawn out about 3/4")... I don't want to get zapped, but I'm tempted to check it myself and get a good look... I have decent rubber handled Husky screwdrivers, I assume that having magnetic tips shouldn't matter.

    Anyway, I'm not sure if there is a question in there. Mainly wanted to respond to say Thank You and have good one! You've no idea how nice it is to have techs that are willing to speak to us lay-folk (FOR FREE!), very much appreciated!
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Oh, so far as the list you gave... these are my thoughts.

    Electrode adjustment... I should pull the gun and check that and for cracked insulator, though again, odd that it would work for days then fail.

    Ignition transformer... while I know what a transformer is, I don't know where that would be in the furnace... nor how to test it (voltmeter, I assume).

    Plugged nozzle... until we bought this place 5 years ago, it was serviced every two years since 1986... I can only assume nozzle was changed. Cheap to change out though... so long as I don't screw up :)

    AIR.... good call, starved for air is possible... I won't mess with that, but I WILL vacuum the air band!
  • Rabbit02
    Rabbit02 Member Posts: 20
    The problem could be the single pipe oil line. When pulling oil from an above ground tank from the top, it is best to use a duplex fitting and install 2 lines. One supply and one return. This will eliminate any air. If you are having to bleed air from it, it needs 2 pipes. The bypass plug(little allen set screw) is to be installed in the fuel pump when going with a 2 pipe system. Also use flare fittings only, no compression fittings. Hope this helps.
    MikeHow
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Thanks for the input @Rabbit02 Our old singlewide and my mother's singlewide are both bottom fed and work fine with the single pipe (though they have oil filters, unlike the top fed ones). All the mobiles on the "new side" of the park are top fed.

    I get what you're saying, I did a ton of reading since this issue started... if it didn't run perfectly for 30 years (5 with us here)... then I'd consider double piping it. I'm not sure why they don't bother to do that with mobile's. This place was built in '86, I know they had plenty of codes back then.

    I'm not sure how much the specs matter in this, but the intake line rises out of the tank to about 52", then bends down to ground level, runs about 40 feet and is lifted about 24" to the pump. Thanks again Rabbit!

    Oh, the intake is flared to a 90degree coupling... I considered that that might be the issue. A messy flare.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    The question is, why was the original pump replaced? It sounds like you had an existing supply restriction or air leak. Did he do a vacuum test? Also, I wouldn't recommend 2 pipe system. It will not "solve" your problem. As Ed mentioned, the wanna be techs are piping it wrong, and maybe it is time to seek someone with some competence. What and where is your filter if any? What tank do you have? Roth tank? Floating suction hose type?
    STEVEusaPA
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Hello @billtwocase

    I had just assumed that pumps fail sometimes, this one looked like it was original when he took it off (30 yrs old). First thing that happened is the heat quit, tripped the safety, so I bled it and it would run for a bit. The first guy that came (jr. tech) was ill equipped, van was a mess, broken or wrong tools, etc... that was last March so I can't recall if he did a vacuum test, he tried priming with a pump kind of primer that had a cracked hose, spilling kero in my laundry/utility room. He blasted about 8 shots of CO2 through the line... actually, now that I think about it, I believe he did do a pressure test on the pump to conclude that it was the problem. I helped him replace the pump since I know where my tools are! :smiley:

    2nd guy, warranty call, he tightened the feed (supply?) line flared fitting down a fraction and decided it was fixed. Also not so competent since he didn't notice it was hooked up to the gauge port.

    3rd guy actually took a little time, was about 40 yrs old and did a gauge pressure test... yet SOMEHOW didn't realize it was hooked up wrong.

    Finally sent a senior tech, organized van. Noticed right away it was hooked up wrong and fixed that... he figured that was all it was.

    Ran good for a couple days, I asked to have the same tech back... he pulled the feed line and tested that (lift or vacuum maybe), pressure tested and said it all checked out. He left the gauge on the supply line for probably ten minutes and told me it rose ever so slightly, but did not drop. That was 4 warranty calls in 11 months. After the pump was replaced, I'd get about 2 weeks out of it before needing to bleed.

    You got me on tank brand, didn't think that made much difference. It whistles when it gets filled, vertical 275 gallon, top feed... it's also original, so maybe after 30 years of never having water/sludge drained out... a bit of rust clogged the line.

    No filter that I've been able to locate and I've spent too much time under this trailer, they all burn kero though, I've been told that a filter isn't "necessary", but after talking about rust particles and potential sludge... I'm re-thinking that recommendation. I can do some stuff, have a cheap crap flaring tool and pipe dope.

    "Floating suction hose type", I really have no idea what that is or how to find out. Google is my friend though, I could find out after the sun comes up.

    It's been running consistent and smooth for 3.5 days now though, I'm hoping it's finally fixed! After my experience I don't feel like "plugging" the company but they are WELL known to be top-notch, they may be cutting senior techs or "re-structuring", they do stand by their work though, 4 free warranty calls... I shouldn't have had 4 different people here, it doesn't make sense... one set of new eyes maybe, but each new guy didn't know what the last guy checked.

    I never read the rules of the forum, let me know if I should remove link, but if you're curious about reputation... over 50 yrs in business. 1 resolved BBB complaint. I still think they are a "good" company, bit pricier than others. They just sent out a few newbies, granted they have to learn sometime. And I'm SURE that Nick got reamed out for hooking to the gauge port! http://flandershvac.com/
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Oh, the second visit from the senior tech, he also checked CO over the flame (through the inspection "flap"). And wrote up that I'd need an ignitor if they came back. I guess 4 free visits is the limit. He checked the arc on that too. I hate to throw ANY money at this 30 yr old furnace... I did notice we aren't supposed to discuss pricing, but I could have gotten a decent new shotgun for the price of pump replacement (not quite a Wingmaster... maybe an 870 express almost).
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    edited February 2017
    There are few examples of mystery problems, or problems that may take a few trips to diagnose. For everything else, there are proper ways to check everything.
    Writing up you'll need an ignitor is just their way of saying, if we come back we're changing something and charging you.
    The fuel pump and the oil lines are checked with pressure and vacuum gauges-period. Hook them up and watch for a max of 10 minutes.
    Ignitor, depending on type-spark test, ohm test, test while letting it spark for 10 minutes.
    Never a 2 pipe, like @billtwocase said. Two pipe is old, ancient, uninformed way of providing fuel (yes there are still plenty out there working fine). If your vacuum gauge says there is no vacuum leak (and no restriction), power purge and done. At most a tiger loop, but a proper system doesn't need one.
    If you had a filter at the tank, (not outside, maybe in the crawlspace or at least at the burner) you wouldn't need the CO2 to blow out a blockage. I've been in this biz for at least 25 years and never used CO2, let alone 8 shots to clear a line.
    I wouldn't try any of the repairs yourself, especially pulling the burner. If you pull the burner, you will probably need a burner gasket. You may also damage the chamber pulling it out and/or putting it back in. And most likely you'll have to unwire and rewire practically everything.
    I don't think you have an ignition problem, I think it's all on the fuel side. Of course there could be other issues with the burner, but the simple fact that you have to bleed it every few days only points to the fuel side.
    steve
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Thanks @STEVEusaPA , I totally get that it sometimes takes a few trips, which is one reason I can't bash the company (along with great reputation for decades)... I do think it odd that they send a new guy every time though and they really need to do some/more apprenticeship with the new guys. One of the guys tried to tell me that kero will gel at 20F... 22 yrs living in a mobile home in New York says otherwise (along with the internet, science, and cold weather truckers!).

    I thought the same thing about the ignitor... they hit their "limit" on the work warranty side of things, it's a bit dishonest, but I get it... I was honestly surprised when the 30yr veteran told me I could just change it myself. Though that could be a trap, who knows. He only gave it the screwdriver test, it looked to me to have decent spark, but I was 5 feet away... he didn't like how hot the top of the... umm... ignitor case, I guess, got.

    Pump pressure was preset right at 100psi, where it should be. I Googled "oil furnace vacuum test" and it seemed to want to show me a lot of industrial stuff... he unhooked the main supply line, hooked it to a rotary gauge and I THINK he hooked a clear rubber fat line somewhere else in there. He said no leak and that the pressure did not decrease (increased ever so slightly).

    Now HERE is where I think the culprit is or hopefully WAS... I believe the first tech either did a bad flare or didn't seat it well initially and that is all it was. It's been running well since Monday morning, no fluttering at all... so, bad seating is my logical guess. With my zero years fixing furnaces and you guys pointing to fuel (which I was nearly sure of, since it was always "milky" when I bled it), he was struggling to get a good seat on the pump, I had to help bend the copper to sit well, maybe not well enough. In hindsight it seems it might be better to hook up the supply BEFORE installing the pump so you have a bit of leverage to bend the supply piping or maybe just getting a few threads started so the pump can move around a bit.
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Oh right, about the 8 shots of CO2... I walked out to the tank after he put in the last one and heard a fairly loud PTANG. I don't *think* it was the sound of air, though all the techs said that was normal. While researching, I'd thought maybe it had a "foot valve" inside the tank or check valve, I know that's pretty rare for an above ground (per my research). He'd only used the CO2 because he couldn't pull prime with his broken primer... or maybe he just likes shooting CO2.

    If you mean pulling the whole assembly out to get to the combustion chamber, I wouldn't dare... I'd watched a couple videos on taking the gun assembly out and it looks SOOOO simple. With a bit of care, I'm pretty confident that I could change out a nozzle and properly set the gap for the... diodes or electrodes, whatever they are.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited February 2017
    I know I'm new here, but your comment about fuel being "always milky when I bled it" caught my eye. Bleed it into a can and let it sit to see if it's water or if it's air (if air it will disapate in a while).
    MikeHow
  • MikeHow
    MikeHow Member Posts: 12
    Thanks @Leonard ... "milky" was definitely the wrong descriptor, perhaps "frothy" would have been better. Everything settles, shows no water line when left for a day to settle, just solid kero.

    Positive note: heat has been working fine, I might look into changing the ignitor myself once it warms up a bit... but since we're selling this place shortly and getting the **** out of NY, I probably won't so long as it runs well.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,594
    No foot valve in an above 275. No vacuum drop after a 10 minute idle test. Oil line is good. The trailer home down flow furnaces in my area are Miller. The newer ones use the Beckett AFG with a clean cut pump. The older ones, 30+ years use the Wayne EG-1. If the Wayne, is it the old style large ignition transformer (looks like a rectangular block, or a solid state igniter?
    Old constant duty transformers can and do overheat and often will not provide adequate ignition on burner recycle.
    Replace with a solid state igniter and primary control with interrupted ignition. Even though the igniter say constant duty, it's my experience that the life span seriously diminishes unless wired for interrupted ignition.
    Better yet, if it is a Wayne burner (POS) and 30+ years old, time to bite the bullet and do what should have been done from day one. Did you forget to mention replacement of the furnace was recommended?