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Burner Will Not Start Consistently

JustLooking Member Posts: 1
American in Germany looking for opinions. I have oil heat and the system will not start consistently. The house was a barn which was renovated into a duplex. It heats like it is still a barn.

The burner is an ABIC brand and Model Nova 2010 CA built in 2000.. The burner has a control box on it with the reset button and the part number is LOA24.171B27. The brains of the system is a Buderus Model R2107 controller. Nothing fancy in the setup, just floor heat and no zones or anything like that. Does have a separate tank for hot water which is heated by circulating water from the boiler.

I can hear the system go through the steps of startup, and the last step is where it fails. Burner makes a clicking sound sounding like metal expanding which is I assume is a preheat step, then the fan runs for 5 to 10 seconds, relay click, ignition and the fire burns for about 5 or 6 seconds, then the reset button trips. I wait until the reset button cools, reset it again, burner goes through the steps, except this time I hear the relay click during the burn and it keeps firing. Sometimes the last click is a single click, and sometimes I can hear it chatter a couple of times.

Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 attempts to start, but usually it will start on the second attempt.

A little online research identified the photocell keep alive for the fire. I found where it was removable from the outside, so pulled it and wiped it off. It ran consistently for about 4 or 5 hours then. Usually it runs the initial startup, heats the boiler to 160 F and shuts down. Circulating pumps to house are off until the hot water is raised to desired temperature, then house pumps are turned on. Boiler temp cools, and then burner fires. It will run a couple of cycles then trip the reset.

The landlord, who had his own heating business before he retired and sold the business says the tanks are too far away. I estimate it has about 100 to 120 feet of copper line to pull through. I'm guessing the elevation change would vary from 0 to 5 ft, depending upon fuel level. It has 3 tanks with cutoffs to switch between tanks, but two of the tanks it pulls from in parallel. The tanks are top draw, line runs along the ceiling to heater room where it drops to burner. Elevation difference is difficult to estimate but tanks might be about a foot higher than the burner.

I've noticed it doesn't give as much trouble when the tanks are full, and the single tank is less problems than the dual configuration. The single tank is 400 gallons and the two parallel tanks are about 525 gallons.

I believe there is a floating filter inside each tank and there is a glass filter on the heater. I can see the filter is always full when it starts to burn, but the glass filter draws down and sometimes drops to the bottom of the filter element. You would think he would change the filters each season, but that doesn't happen as far as I can tell. I am guilty of running the tanks down to about 12 inches of fuel and I can see the heater filter get dirty when I do that.

Is the failure to continue burning a symptom of problems pulling fuel? The glass filter is full or down maybe 1/4 inch when it fails to continue burning.

Why does cleaning the photocell seem to help it run better for a while? It doesn't seem to have any crud on it except for the first time when it seemed to have a light tan coating.

Is there a problem switching the brain to manual mode and running the burner continuously? I know I will not get hot water, but heat is more critical than hot water at the moment.

Also the landlord has finally decided to "upgrade" to gas. The crew is supposed to come in January to hook us up to the gas main. The landlord forgot to say what year.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and any input is appreciated.

I've attached some pictures so you can see the system. the ignition transformer failed yesterday, so you can see the quick repair job sitting on the pipe. Filter is a picture of the system while it is running. It is full when the burner is not running. I've ordered some replacement felt filters myself, since the landlord doesn't seem to think it should be replaced. Just waiting for delivery.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,091
    Change that filter and see if that helps. It should. I have similar glass bowl filters on some of my tractors -- and I can assure you that if they were to draw down like that, I'd be walking.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 563
    Yes change that filter and Have the nozzle changes as well I'm surprised that there is not a two pipe set up there. The long oil pull combined with perhaps some crud in the line is likely to have an effect on the combustion. Could bet dirtying the eye of the eye might not see what it wants to see. You should have a service tech drop by and do an analysis on it.