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Redundant Firomatic shutoffs necessary?

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rccrfan
rccrfan Member Posts: 51
I have a basement tank mounted vertically with the supply on the bottom end. When I had the tank replaced in 2004 they installed a Firomatic valve on it. However, there is another Firomatic valve about 4 feet away from the tank just before the filter that has been there since the house was built propably and I use that one for turning off the oil so I can change the Garber filter.

Can I have the oil company put a ball valve or whatever is code where the Firomatic near the filter is? From a serviceability standpoint it would be easier and the last time I changed the filter I noticed the threads turning somewhat on the Firomatic valve. Thank you.

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  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    You can have a ball valve at the filter if local code permits it. I did the same thing when I installed a Garber on my boiler. I don't like putting excess wear and tear on the firomatic valves, especially the ones installed directly on the bottom of the tank.
    If you are going to to work on your oil line I would recommend installing a regular general oil filter at the tank. Double filtration keeps everything nice.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
    edited February 2020
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    NFPA 31 Code is rather tricky to digest. The usual interpretation is firomatic (fusible link safety shutoff valve) at the tank and one at the burner.
    The code states NFPA 31 8.7.1:
    ...(3) Provided with a shutoff valve at the outlet, for an above ground tank.
    (4) Provided with a shutoff valve where an oil line enters a building...

    but doesn't say it has to be a firomatic.

    Then a little farther down in 8.7.3:
    8.7.3 A readily accessible fusible link safety shutoff valve shall be installed:
    (1) As close as practical to the burner(s) supply connection.
    (2) Immediately upstream of the filter and inside the building, if the piping passes through a foundation.


    So how would you interpret that. If you have a filter connected to the burner and an inside tank, just one before the filter?

    I've never had a local AHJ who knew anything about them, even fire marshals. But if there's a fire and it was determined that properly installed firomatic valves would've saved a catastrophe, guess who's on the hook?

    However, nothing fails and causes a giant PIA to replace than a firomatic at the tank.
    The makers of these valves must of had a huge lobbying effort, or a friend in the right place to get this into the code, as I have yet to ever hear of a case where the firomatic valve 'saved the day' while a giant fire was raging next to the oil tank.

    Usually they fail closed, or almost closed, put a high vacuum on the pump seal and ruin the pump, which happened at my house, dead of winter, after a brutal day when I didn't bring my service truck home because it was close to midnight. So I went back to get the van, fix my own equipment, showered and got to bed at 3am for a few hours of sleep-thank you firomatic :)


    Me, I do ball valve, firomatic at tank, double filtration, OSV (if gravity), firomatic at the burner. Don't forget your ugly expansion loops.
    If it makes you feel better, take the handle off the ball valve. But it's much easier to do a power vacuum bleed with a ball valve.
    Going on 30 years, never had to replace a ball valve. Replaced many firomatics via the vacuum trick.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    SuperTechSolid_Fuel_ManGrallert
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    Thanks for the insight. I am going to have the oil company look and they can tell me what they think and if code install a ball valve. I think my Firomatic isn't opening all the way too. Theres only like a 1/4 inch of threads showing in the "open" position.


  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Yeah they blow. I literally replaced one on Saturday with a ball valve, on the Asst Fire Chief's house. That definitely looks like an older one.
    You could try working it a few times. It doesn't go far when closing/opening.
    You could also put a vacuum gauge at the pump to see if it's restricting flow/increasing vacuum.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    It may be doing just that because sometimes the Riello makes an intermittent sound that is hard to describe. It’s like a slight low screeching and/or air sound. It goes away and sometimes it doesn’t do it at all. Its from the pump side.
    It’s been doing it since new.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    It looks open to me, but it couldn't hurt to replace it. If you have a firomatic at the tank and one at the burner I don't think it would matter if you have a ball valve at your filter, just as long as it's located somewhere between the firomatics.
  • rccrfan
    rccrfan Member Posts: 51
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    The direction of flow from the tank is:
    Tank Firomatic-> supply line->2nd Firomatic- supply line ->Garber Filter-> supply line -> burner.
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 660
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    Also the firomatic is not a service valve though it's always used as one and a ballvalve is not fire rated at all.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,622
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    @rccrfan

    The code has been the same for years and is pretty standard in most locations With an indoor tank, 1 firomatic at the tank, 1 firomatic at the burner. If you want a ball valve somewhere for service I see no issue with that. The firomatic at the tank should be close to the tank.

    Your firomatic looks open to me.

    You can hold the stem on the firomatic valve with a pair of needlenose pliers while turning the wheel if the stem is turning