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Furnace Stopped Firing, White Contamination in Oil

bchaney Member Posts: 4
edited January 2018 in Oil Heating
Hey guys, last nite I came home from work to a cold house. I tried the reset button and the pump/motor runs but then shuts down with no flame visible thru the peep hole. I removed the nozzle, blew it out with compressed air, and replaced the sintered filter (from another, different-sized nozzle). Electrodes look clean and gaps look right per the manual. I checked the oil filter and it looks clean but I have a replacement 1A-30 on the way from amazon. The system was installed in 2014 has an old underground tank (house built in '52) with a single pipe that runs up and along the ceiling in the basement before dropping down to the filter then a tigerloop. Before reading that systems with a tigerloop do not need to be bled/primed, I tried bleeding some oil from the port on the motor and it came out very aerated, it was a cloudy white milky color. I bled about half a gallon and it wasn't getting any clearer so I closed the bleeder.

It's my understanding that there should be no air in the line after the tigerloop - is that correct?

Any advice on what I should check next? It seems to be an oil supply issue. Tank was topped off early Jan. Is it OK to start the unit with the gun outside it and pointing into a container?

EDIT: I've read here and elsewhere that you don't need to bleed/prime a system with a tigerloop but the tigerloop installation instructions have a bleeding procedure:

System Bleeding (air purging and priming)
1. Read and understand all steps before starting, and have a sufficiently large
enough oil resistant container ready to catch any fuel expelled from the pump
during system bleeding.
2. Since system bleeding often requires burner operation past the primary
control’s safety lock-out time, follow the primary control manufacturer’s
instructions for keeping the burner operating long enough to complete the
bleeding procedure.
3. Open all oil line shut-off valves (including the supply line ball valve shown in
illustrations 4 and 9) and restore power.
4. Start the burner and open the pump bleeder.
5. When air free oil has been flowing from the bleeder for at least one minute,
close the supply line ball valve.
6. When little or no oil flows from the bleeder, open the supply line ball valve.
7. When air free oil again flows from the bleeder for at least 1 minute, close the
pump bleeder. Oil should circulate in the Tigerloop and the burner should fire.
8. During system operation, inspect to insure that there are no leaks and that
the system is working properly.


    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,038
    How did the nozzle filter look, same milky stuff?
    Sounds like water in the oil tank.
    If the fill pipe close to the ground?
    You have to pump the water out and replace the nozzle, filter and pump strainer.
  • bchaney
    bchaney Member Posts: 4
    edited January 2018
    Yea, it did look milky at the nozzle filter. Fill pipe is close to the ground (but capped) and it did rain pretty hard here yesterday when the issue occurred...

    You may be on to something.

    So, next question, what's the quickest way I can get the water out of my tank so that I can have a warm house again? Do any of those additives work on an almost full oil tank? Looking into water finding paste to see if this is actually the issue first.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,133
    Bigger question...is the underground tank leaking/taking on water?
    In the short term you could take a 5 gallon can, stick a supply line in it, bleed and go.
    There really are no additives, despite what they say on the label that are going to disperse (remove) all the water.
    If your tank hasn't been compromised, best thing to do would be to stick the tank with the paste to see how much water is in there (it'll be at the bottom). If it's 5", figure out how many gallons that is (approximately), run a pipe to the bottom of the tank, and pump the oil into a drum until it's clear.
    Have the oil company put additive in at next fill up. Better to check the tank again to make sure no water is in there. If there's water, time for a new tank.
    After you pump out the water, run the burner for an hour, shut it down, replace nozzle/filter/strainer, bleed.
    Run and do full combustion test.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    If there is any chance that that tank is leaking (and I would say that there just might be) find out as soon as you possibly can. Follow @STEVEusaPA 's suggestions -- particularly for rechecking the tank.

    If it has been leaking, it is going to need a remediation when it is removed, and the sooner you get on to it the less of a catastrophe you have on your hands. But it's not going to be pretty.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • bchaney
    bchaney Member Posts: 4
    edited January 2018
    Here's a video of the crap that came out of the bleeder last nite. Definitely not air because it's been sitting for a day. It doesn't look like water either, does it? It's almost in suspension, it's not separating.

    Can I just continue to bleed this crap out the bleeder or will that hurt the pump?

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    That almost looks as though it might be some form of biological slime -- it can grow in older oil tanks in the presence of water.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    If you want to check for water in your oil,take a sample of about 16 ounces and add a red food coloring dye to it...Shake it up and look for the results
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    Agree, something going on with that underground tank. In the video, the container side shot made it look like two layers, oil floating on water. Bioslim, is mostly water, if that's what it is.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,248
    Yep its water ... pump it through see if it clears up .. then rechange the filter and nozzle.. Fill and vent pipes tend to rot at ground level ..Check for rot holes .. Stick the tank with water paste .. Green paste and turns purple with contact with water .. Best off pumping it out ..
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • bchaney
    bchaney Member Posts: 4
    edited February 2018
    So I ran the furnace off a can of diesel as suggested, that worked well. There was 3.5" of water in the 300 gal tank. Had a guy come pump it out - he said he took 10 gals, cleaned the line and fired it up off the tank again. I changed the filter and plan to clean out the screen. I have a 0.50 80 W nozzle that I can throw on, but the one on there now is a 0.50 70 W. If I change the nozzles angle of the spray do I need to do a combustion test? I don't have a CO2 analyzer or smoke gun. Also noticed that the manual recommends a 0.50 80 A.

    I ordered some water finding paste and plan to keep an eye on water levels in the tank. Steve recommended an additive for the tank - what one and what's it for? I'm hesitant to put more oil in if the tank may be leaking. I don't want to pay for 300 gal of oil and then have to get rid of it - if the tanks bad we would probably switch to natural gas.

    Thanks to all of you for the help, I've learned a lot.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited February 2018
    In my tank I had 7-8 gal of water that I suspect was just 60 years of condensation.

    275 gal tank in cellar. Tank got almost empty one month, then after tank was refilled, burner shut down on flame out safety. 1 oil line system, tracked problem down to water in tank. Refilling with oil stired up water into droplets. Bleed line , replaced filters and nozzle as a bandaid to keep it running for the winter. Temporary solution till summer came was to shut off furnace for ~ 3-4 hours after refilling to let stirred up water droplets settle back out before running burner, worked well.

    In summer I let tank run empty, then vacuumed ~ 7-8 gal of water/sludge out. Was black, not white.

    Yours being a "clean" white liquid makes me suspect water was "relatively" new. But I'm not experienced with tanks.