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Looking for advice on oil systems for home inspector book.

RayWohlfarth
RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 954
I am working on a book on boilers for home inspectors and would like to include something on oil burners and tanks. The only problem is I seldom (Two customers in 4 years) work on fuel oil systems and am hoping to pick someone's brain much smarter than me in it. What are some things that should be inspected and looked at when they inspect a home with fuel oil? Thank you for your help. I will be eternally grateful and you will have an IOU for a cold beer when we meet in person.
Thanks
Ray
Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons

Comments

  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,451
    Here is NORA tank checklists
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,451
    One is above ground other is below
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,451
    As far as boiler or furnace it's really no different than other fuels.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,594
    No compression fittings on the oil lines.
    Check the chamber refractory (if there is one) for cracks or breaks.
    Check the rear of the jacket for hot spots.
    Check the chimney base and use an inspection mirror to look up the chimney if possible.
    Draft hoods and cleaning access doors should have kaowool rope or gasket with nuts and bolts. Retort cement shouldn't be holding everything together.
    On furnaces, some have the front facing the exterior foundation wall.
    There needs to be enough room to slide the blower assembly out before it hits the wall. Sadly I've seen this many times when a furnace was changed from a low boy to a high boy.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,007
    Oil piping to the burner(s) must be flared (no compression) pipe dope (no Teflon tape). Condition of tank...leaks or seepage. Vent line with a Scully whistle. Fill and vent lines pitched down toward the tank. Minimum distance between tank and burner (MA used to be 5' some codes differ) Fireomatic valves at burner and at tank, oil filter. Oil line protected.
    Flue pipe should be supported and have 3 screws/joint minimum. Draft regulator.
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 954
    @Robert O'Brien
    @HVACNUT
    @EBEBRATT-Ed
    Thank you all very much. Lots of great ideas and suggestions. I knew I would get an answer here.
    Ray
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,338
    edited June 2018
    In addition to the excellent prior posts-

    If the boiler or furnasty has an inspection door, open it and look inside. If you see a lot of soot, sulfur etc, it fails. Tell them to have the unit serviced by someone other than the knucklehead who was there before.

    Look for a hole in the smoke pipe that would allow for combustion testing. Some units (like Burnham MegaSteam) have holes with plugs in them for testing, so no smoke pipe hole on one of these doesn't necessarily mean it was never tested. In this case, and in all cases where there is a hole in the smoke pipe, ask to see the latest combustion test printout. If they can't produce one, assume it was never tested. Have it tested, cleaned and tuned.

    Check the burner's primary control. If the trial for ignition (sometimes called safety timing) is longer than 15 seconds (including any type of stack-mounted primary and also the all-too-common Honeywell R8184G and its clones), it fails- have the control replaced with a 15-second one. On a 15-second control, disconnect the cad-cell leads and start the burner- it should shut down 15 seconds after the flame starts. If it takes longer than that, the control should be replaced with another 15-second control.

    The burner itself should be a "flame-retention" type. Beckett AF/AFG/AFII/CF/NX/SF/SR series, Carlin CRD, FRD and EZ series, any Riello, most Aero, any Sunray Golden Cup and the Wayne Blue Angel, MSR and EH are all flame-retention burners- this list obviously does not include all models of this type. If you have a question about a particular burner, post it here or on Oil Tech Talk.

    Any non-flame-retention burner (with the possible exception of the Shellhead) should be replaced with a flame-retention type. This type of burner, when properly set up, runs much cleaner and with more efficiency than older types. Ask me how I know this.......

    Every burner installation should have a barometric draft regulator on the smoke pipe. Some boiler manufacturers say their boilers don't necessarily need one, but very often the chimney draft is so high that it pulls way too much heat out of the unit, no matter how much you fiddle with the breech damper. Just install one already, following the manufacturer's instructions as to size and placement- that puts you in full control of the draft.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 954
    @Steamhead Wow Thanks Im going to have a whole new chapter. I appreciate it
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • newagedawn
    newagedawn Member Posts: 586
    where i live you need a license to work on boilers after a 4 YEAR apprenticeship and passing a state test, inspectors are not qualified, as they take a 4 WEEK course on home inspection and think they know all about home inspection and especially my business that i spent 30 yrs in, i say inspectors go home, now you want to write a book for these jokers and there going to tell me whats right, I DONT THINK SO!!!!! they want an inspection on a boiler or furnace, tell them to call a real professional !!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT SOME IDIOT THAT TAKES A 4 WEEK COURSE, tell them in ur book to call a professional and leave the inspections to the professionals !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    "The bitter taste of a poor install lasts far longer than the JOY of the lowest price"
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    oil tanks---1 1/4 min pipe size fill and vent. Vent equal or larger than fill.. tank should be setting on solid foundation (no hollow blocks)
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 954
    @newagedawn Thanks for the comments and feedback. I will urge the inspectors to suggest a service call by a qualified contractor. I am just looking at helping them recognize "home-made" repairs done by the homeowner or a dangerous condition. Many homeowners would rather not spend the money on a boiler checkup. Thank you for your passion. I had an inspector call me once and yell at me that the boiler we installed did not have the right pitch on the flue. I met him on the jobsite and asked if he used a level to verify the pitch as the ceiling was sloped. We held a level on it and he said, "Nevermind."

    @lchmb They are some good suggestions. I will definitely include those.
    Ray
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons