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New Heat Pump with Oil Furnace Losing Prime ONLY after outside air temp goes below 32
in Oil Heating
I desperately need some suggestions. My HVAC company has walked away from my newly installed system and I need some suggestion of what may be causing the problem. I am not going to touch it, I need to be able to suggest the problem in a way that they will listen to me. They have tried running the oil furnace on it's own, without the heat pump, for two days and it ran perfectly for over a day, until the outside air temperature reached about 33 degrees. That is what always happens. The oil tank is outside and is close to the house/furnace, only about fifteen to twenty feet. We have great heating oil that contains an additive to prevent any issues with low temps. We have used the oil supply company for over forty years. The HVAC company tested the oil and found it to be okay. The entire heat pump with oil furnace system was installed in the middle of December and we live in WV. The furnace part never has worked right. It shuts down when the outside air temperature reaches around 32 degrees. When checked, there is always air in the fuel line. They have come out many times to try different fixes since then. They did find one major issue with the way that they had the system hooked up to run just last Thursday so the issue could be anything. They had the wrong type of thermostat installed which was making the heat pump and furnace run at the same time, instead of one or the other, which I am told is how they work with oil furnace systems. I have noticed that when the furnace is running, it is putting off a lot more heat than our old one ever did, which comes from the cabinet area where the furnace unit is running. When the furnace quits cycling, it has air in the line but I am not sure what comes first, the air (which I know should never be there) or the safety kicking off, maybe from the heat that I am feeling? I am a female and they don't seem to be hearing what I am explaining to them. It might not make much sense but it is what is happening. It does cycle perfectly until the temperature drops. It does put off much more heat from the actual pump and furnace area when it runs. It is a Beckett and I have pictures if it will help, just tell me what you need. The tank is above ground. It is in an old trailer that was added onto and is now more like a house but still had to be specified for a trailer install. I just need some reasonable suggestions that I can use the next time that I attempt to call them. This is my 77 year old mother's home and she is not healthy. I live here and care for her. The cold air is bad for her. I really need help. We are worse than we were before we got the new system. I have been reading your boards for weeks looking for a solution and trying to better educate myself about these systems.
First, the HVAC company should not be "walking away" from the job if they installed it (assuming the did) and it's not performing normally.
You have the option of calling another company who knows what they're doing, paying them, then suing the first company to pay for correcting whatever the first company did wrong.
Air in the lines.. do you know if they installed a "Tiger Loop" to the oil line? These can eliminate burner shut down/lock out on remote tanks or when the oil lines go above the oil line of the tank by removing air from the oil.
A lot of times, air in the lines is caused by a leaky fitting somewhere between the tank and the burner. I know what you're thinking - if there's a leak I would see red oil stains. Well, not always. There's not much pressure on the oil line so a leak may not always push fluid, but when the burner is running, it's pulling oil and if there's a seal that isn't perfect, it will pull in air. If the oil is very cold, it might exacerbate the problem of pulling oil without getting air into it - kind of like drinking a very cold milkshake through a straw.
There could be a bad fitting anywhere between the tank and the burner, including the filter and fire valves.
Could simply be a vacuum leak, or a restriction. A restriction can look like a vacuum leak. Needs a competent tech to go over the entire fuel delivery system from tank to burner with a vacuum gauge. Find/fix the leak, even it means reflaring the fittings, or see what's causing the restriction. A restriction could be caused by the bio portion of the fuel freezing up or any water settled into the bottom of the tank.
Proper tools, technique and experience is needed.steve3
Yes, they have walked away from it and said that the problem has to be in the line from the tank to the furnace, which they have checked themselves and found to be leak free. So, they say it is our problem. I am so happy that you actually addressed the temperature issue and why it may be having an impact. I keep being told by the HVAC employees and other people that it is not possible for the furnace to be running/cycling with no air issues when it is over 32 degrees but for it to get air and shut down when the temperature outside hits around 32 or 33, but it does, every time. I thought it might be from something like you explained.
No, we do not have a tiger loop. I have read a lot of you talking about Tiger Loops, so I have suggested adding one and I was told that one was not needed. I had our former furnace tech come and look at the hook up lines to the tank and he was surprised that the HVAC company had removed the check valve, but the HVAC company advised me that it is built into the pump in this system so there is no need to add one in the line to the oil in the tank. I will bring up the Tiger Loop again.
They have checked the valves and fittings along the line several times. They even replaced one. I am in such a bad position and do not know what to do. We really do not have the funds to pay another company to come in and find the problem. I am told that the place that the fuel line connects to the furnace, under the trailer, is very difficult, almost impossible to reach, now that the furnace is fully installed.0
SuperTech Member Posts: 1,919Pictures of the oil tank and furnace would help. Do you have one oil line or two between the furnace and oil tank? You should have two, or a Tiger loop. Is the oil line connected to the top of the tank or the bottom? It should come out of the top. Also, a mobile home furnace with an outdoor tank should be burning kerosene instead of #2 fuel oil to prevent these problems.1
There is only one line and it is from the top of the tank. The fuel is "#2LS DYED DIESEL" which the heating oil company tells me is supreme, with an additive for winter time. I will get you pictures of the oil tank and lines in the morning, when it is light outside. My mother is out of her room now, so I may not be able to respond until tomorrow as I have to care for her. Thank You so much for your suggestions and considerations. I will be back in the morning with pics.0
Is this a Miller down flow furnace? It has a louvered door with a washable air filter?
You're getting #2 fuel, not Kerosene?
I'm not against Tiger Loops, I've got one myself. They act as a pre heater when pulling from a cold outside tank. BUT, it is NOT a remedy for a leak in the oil line. IMO, the check valve shouldn't be needed if the lines are tight.
If it is a Miller furnace, then getting a Tiger Loop in there might be tricky.
As far as the actual area around the furnace being hotter, where is the indoor heat pump coil, underneath the trailer? Was there a heat pump or AC with the old oil furnace, or this was a new addition?
You said you're not sure what comes first, the air, or the safety kicking off. Do you reset the safety? If so, does it fire and run OK for the day, or hours?1
Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,235They can't just walk away unless you let them . Run a new line and add a tiger loop for your problem . They should have run a new oil line when they installed a new system unless you did not want to pay for it.
Yes the heat pump and furnace needs a special thermostat , The heat pump thermostat will run the heat pump only until there is no heat gain than switches to auxiliary which turns on the furnace .I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all1
EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,424Sounds like a suction leak in the oil line. Many will recommend a Tiger loop I do not like them but you probably need one on your job because it will help warm up the oil.
However, and this is important. A Tiger loop is not a substitute for oil lines that leak in spite of what some techs will tell you.1
This sounds like the HVAC company is not that good with oil burners. I had a mechanic that worked for me that could never get a leak free flare on copper tubing. I found the the only flare tool he had was something his father had purchased from FW Woolworth in the 1960s. I let him use my expensive Rigid Tool and also let him use my tubing reamer and his flare fitting leaks were reduced by over 90%. I think your HVAC installer has to get some good tools. They also need to do a better job of pressure testing or vacuum testing the fuel line. If need be, they need to replace the fuel line if they can't get the fuel line to stop leaking.
Read your contract for the new equipment. Is there a warranty for a specific time? Does the warranty cover material and workmanship? It should. There are laws in most states that protect you from this type of problem. Even if it is not in the contract, there may be a minimum standard that all contractors must abide by. If something that is required by law is not specifically addressed in the contract, the law may provide for you. You need a lawyer to help you with this.
You will need to start a diary of what was done to resolve the problem. Write down everything you can remember, use your phone call log to remember exact dates when you called to register the problem the first time. Write down what you remember was done by the technician(s) to fix it each visit. Once you have that diary, write a letter summing up all the things in your diary. It might say something like
On December XX 2022 you completed the installation of my new HVAC system
On December XX you were paid in full
On December XX I called because the furnace needed to be reset
On December XX your technician Al said he did this to fix it
On January XX the furnace did not operate again
On January XX your technician Bill said he fixed this and tested that.
On January XX it failed to operate again.
And so on:
On January XX you told me that you were unable to get the system to operate properly and said that the fuel system was the cause of the problem and that is not included in your contract. You have left me with no heat during the winter months and that is unacceptable
For the record; The fuel system worked fine for over 20 years on the furnace you removed. What did your installers do to my fuel system that caused it to fail?
After doing much research, I have found that the problem may be easy to resolve with an oil deaerator or with a replacement fuel line from the tank to the oil burner. Since your technicians failed to take proper care of my fuel system and modified it in such a way as to render me with no heat, I have no recourse but to notify the building inspector’s office and the department of health for assistance in resolving this issue. I have no extra funds or income to have someone else look at this.
Please take care of this before I have additional health and property damage issues that result from having an oil heater that does not work properly after paying you $XX,000.00 for this new system.
Send this as an email and also as a certified letter thru the USPS system.
Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics2
It is a Beckett furnace. I am attaching some pictures to help. I can not physically go outside to get pictures of the tank line, The fuel line is run from the tank into the wooden opening shown in a picture with the tank and the furnace and burner is about ten feet into the home and not very high up. I am including a picture of the way that the fuel line was run in the interior because one of the HVAC company techs that came out made a comment to me saying that the line should have never have been run with an arch and it should have been run from beneath. He also said that they ran the line in a similar arch in one other place, that I can not see. On another day after that, one of the employees told me on the phone that they were coming out to rerun the line, to remove the arches about a month ago and when they showed up, they acted like no one ever said such a thing and only checked for leaks and said they tightened up some valves, tested the furnace, had it running correctly and left. As usual, it continued to cycle perfectly until the outside air temp dropped to around 32-33 degrees. I am not getting the furnace confused with the heat pump. I know the difference. When they tried running only the furnace, with the heat pump turned off. It cycled perfectly, with no air in the line, until the air temp went down to 32 or 33 degrees outside. I am keeping very good notes on a calendar of everything that has happened and I have called another HVAC company that I am waiting to hear back from, to come out and give me an idea of how much it will cost to try to possibly rerun the line from the tank to the furnace to rule it out completely and then go from there. I will also ask them about a Tiger Loop. We have a very limited income. We paid for a full tank of fuel in November and I am so thankful for your help and suggestions. You have already helped me a great deal, just from what I was able to learn in other posts before now.
@HVACNUT I do hit the reset button and it will fire up again, if the outside air temp is above 32 or 33 degrees. The furnace only kicks off once the outside air temp drops down to 33 degrees. It runs great otherwise, both the heat pump and the furnace. I am aware of the difference between them when they are running and I know when the furnace is running. We even tested it by disconnecting the heat pump and solely running the furnace for over a day and it cycled and ran perfect, until the outside air temp went down to 33 degrees. I know this because every time that it quit, I made a note of it by looking on the outside air temperature on my computer. It did, however, put off a lot more heat from the area where the burner is located. We had a furnace and air conditioner before, no heat pump until now. I did post some pictures and I have more, if I can post anything that might help. Thank You for the suggestions. It does sound like a Tiger Loop may be helpful. I had considered that before from what I saw in other discussions but I still need to check out why it feels so much warmer than it used to near the actual furnace area. Hopefully, the other company that I called will also help me out and I can send the bill to the original contractor. The company that installed the system is one of the major, well known HVAC companies in our area.0
@Big Ed_4 The company is one of only a couple in our area and is one of the most well known. When I asked them to run the line, they told me that they do not do that type of work. They only install the furnace or HVAC system and do not run oil lines from tanks. I worked in the construction industry for over thirty years, mostly in management in the office. I am not stupid and I am used to working with mechanical or specialty skilled contractors as I worked for a general contractor and we subbed out this type of work often. Unfortunately, I have been out of the business for about 9 years and so much has changed in our area. My contacts are no longer around and companies have closed. I can not believe what I have let this company get away with. It is embarrassing. They have to at least have someone that they work with for putting the lines in. I don't know what is going on with them. I am respectful but trying to not let them just walk away, it seems like that is what they are doing.0
That top connection and union to the tank is where I'd place my money. If the oil gets cold, it gets a *wee* bit thicker. Since you have a top draw connection, a small leak in any of the connections there won't leak oil externally, but it will pull in air when the pump is drawing on it. A Tigerloop may "fix" the problem, but if there is a bit of a problem with any of the connections, a TL may mask the problem but not be a real fix. Lots of people have oil lines run like yours and don't get any air in the lines.
This all presupposes of course that the HVAC company tech was correct when he said there was air in the lines causing loss of pump prime and burner lock out.
Minor quibble - the burner is a Beckett (they don't make furnaces). The Beckett is a fine burner and should give you decades of service.
EDIT: the Beckett will draw well even with the way your tank is connected if all the connections are air tight. Personally, I prefer a bottom connection because (IMO) it reduces the problem of sludge settling at the bottom of the tank and never moving below the pickup tube.
@EdTheHeaterMan It has a 1 year warranty for labor and materials but it only covers the equipment or materials starting from the part where the fuel line from the tank comes to the system. It covers some of the fuel line that they ran, the part that starts when it attaches under the house. I have been keeping very detailed notes on a calendar. I have worked in management of a construction company for thirty years before I had to quit and I worked with subcontractors almost every day. I had to quit about eight or ten years ago and a lot has changed in those years, so my contacts and the companies that we used are not around anymore. I sure wish they were. This company is very well known in my area. I can't believe the things that have happened with all of this. It is mind blowing. Blaming us over and over for our part of the fuel line although they had the completely wrong thermostat installed that would not run our system correctly from the installation in mid December until this past Friday. That alone is many cold nights and days for my mother. Who knows what other things they might have done? I do have another company that is willing to come and look. I am just awaiting their call. We really do not have the money to spend but my mother needs heat. Your board has been a wonderful resource for me. I am still looking for suggestions and may get someone to put a tiger loop on before we do anything else. I know it is not a solution but it may work long enough to keep the house warm, so I can get the funds to get the other company to fully recheck the system.0
The connections right at the top of the tank could be your problem. Two small adjustable wrenches on that union might to tighten might be all that's needed. I don't know if they spliced in the crawlspace, but a leaky union anywhere can suck in air - again, assuming you're losing prime.
@EdTheHeaterMan We really do not have the money to spend but my mother needs heat. ... I am still looking for suggestions and may get someone to put a tiger loop on before we do anything else.
I think the first and best thing to check would be that union on top of the tank. If you can't, maybe a local friend or relative can give those connections a quick tighten. Won't cost anything and it can't hurt.
#2 fuel oil, a.k.a. diesel, untreated for cold temperatures, has a cloud point of 14°F. From that temperature and lower diesel will start gelling if not treated with an additive and/or mixed with #1 fuel oil (kerosene). So if you're outside temperature hasn't gotten below 20°F then temperature is not causing a gelling problem where the burner pump can't pump or suck fuel through the outside line.
And don't overlook overnight temperature drops, you'll need to recognize that and then what the temperature does into mid morning, and if the the sun hits the tank at all, if it's really an outside temperature issue.
but being an outside tank, top drafted, and not new (how old is it?) my first guess would be some kind of water in fuel in the tank, since you keep mentioning 32°F. Water sits at the bottom, the suction line entering the tank from the top goes down and pulls from whatever point that never changes which is at a water level.... maybe. Trying a quart of diesel-dry or whatever additive, it wouldn't hurt, and if it doesn't work for ~$10 shouldn't make you too upset.
what I would do is get a straight length of piping, could be white pcv, 1/2", and without disturbing or stirring the fuel in the tank pull the top caps or vent pipe for access to the tank, and pump from the bottom of the tank into a container and observe the quality of the fuel. And ideally pull and measure your suction line going into the tank to know how far off the bottom it is pulling.
you could even simply pull that line up a few inches and see if that affects your 32° problem, if it does then you know but know doing only that isn't a long term solution.1
@ron The tank was completely empty and professionally cleaned before we got the delivery of fuel. The HVAC company also tested the fuel to check for the presence of water or any other problems and there was no sign of water or any other problem with the fuel that they could find. There was an additive in the fuel when it was delivered to prevent gelling and they also put an additive in to make sure that if there was any water crystals that they were not picking up with their testing, it would take care of them and that did not work. They also checked from the bottom of the tank.
Employees from the HVAC company and our usual handyman that used to work on our old furnace checked the fittings and said they are not leaking. I should say that the HVAC company employees checked them and told me they are not leaking at one point but their Owner is now saying that it may be the problem and his company does not deal with that part of the work. I do believe all of you that this could be our problem and will follow your advice. The one place that everyone here sees that someone marked problem #2 is there because of the way that the line is run to the furnace and the lack of space between the trailer, the new system, beams and the ground. I am told that that no one is able to get into the area where the line runs up into the bottom of the furnace to attach a direct line, since the new system was put into place. I don't know why the HVAC company did not at least run a new long line out from the furnace and let us hook it up, instead of just leaving a short piece of the old line for us to hook in to. I am thinking that the HVAC company left the part of the fuel line that runs from the part marked problem #2, clear up through, into where they could reach the fuel line from inside the house because they weren't able to get under the trailer easily in that area or didn't want to do that part of the work. I wonder if there is a problem there? How much line is there before a HVAC company can see and work with it from the interior of a trailer when they are installing a complete new system? I am not asking about the part running across from the side of the house, horizontally over, just the part that would go up, once it is in right under it? I know they did go under the trailer for other parts of the work but once they put the system in, it made it almost impossible to get into the area that we used to, to be able to access the line. They didn't tell me that, but it is getting more and more clear to me that is what they did. Everyone who I have asked to put a continuous line in, without the fittings or attachments in between, tells me that they can no longer get to the part where it runs to, to make it all one line, because they can't get under the trailer and past the new system.0
@MaxMercy Thank You for so much very good advice! I really do appreciate it. I supposedly have someone coming soon although they haven't called me back, yet, so I am a little worried about it. I had someone pick up three electric heaters for the house today. I don't like them and I am scared of fires but we need something. The temps are supposed to go down below zero tonight. I don't want my parents to freeze or the pipes to break. I don't know if anyone will be able to get rid of the connection that is marked problem #2 because I have asked a couple of people and they tell me that since the system was put in, the only access area to the hook up for the furnace is now completely blocked. They can only hook onto the old line. I can not go and look because of my health or I would. I would be under the trailer, with the tools, if I could. It is frustrating. I am following your advice and hoping that maybe I can get someone else to help me this weekend, if the other company does not call me back today as promised.0
There is always a way to run a new line, even if it's by a totally different route than the current point takes. The only two hard points are the tank and the burner.
I don't know if anyone will be able to get rid of the connection that is marked problem #2 because I have asked a couple of people and they tell me that since the system was put in, the only access area to the hook up for the furnace is now completely blocked. .
Is the heat pump at least helping?
Portable electric heaters today are designed where they don't cause fires like the old exposed resistance heaters did. Your biggest concert is using extension cords (try not to unless there's no option), and if you do, make sure they're heavy enough to handle the wattage of the space heaters. Check the connections on the extension and the wall socket to make sure you don't feel any heat.
Those unions circled in red could be your problem, and as long as there are no unions that are buried and inaccessible, should be able to be made air tight.
So frustrating that you spent all that money on a whole new system and are having to deal with this now. I wish I were near you - I'd run over and take a look.
@MaxMercy What company should I say makes my furnace when I am asked? Is it not one in particular because it is made up of different parts from different manufacturers working together? or is there a name that I can use? I like to know the correct answer, if someone asks me.
I did pay someone else to come and check the hook up to the tank and he said it is all tight and not leaking. The HVAC companies' employees also checked for leaks, too. I am going to have it rechecked and make the changes that people have recommended, too. Thank You for your help!0
The name of the furnace will be on the nameplate somewhere on the top or side of the sheetmetal enclosure, not on the burner itself, but I think most service people would be far more interested in the burner (Beckett) itself than the furnace.
@MaxMercy What company should I say makes my furnace when I am asked? Is it not one in particular because it is made up of different parts from different manufacturers working together?
Your system is not a mismash of parts - furnace companies make furnaces and the installer selects the burner they (or you I suppose) prefer separately, or they will order the furnace "pre-packaged" with a burner of their choice (Beckett, Carlin, Riello, etc -fine burners all). FWIW, I ordered a Beckett AFG like yours when I ordered my Slant Fin brand boiler as a pre-packaged assembly.
With regard to the unions having been checked for leaks - was this a visual inspection only? The unions that are above the oil line could be "leaking" badly and not leak any visible oil, but they will allow air in when the burner's pump is drawing fuel from the tank - like drinking a milkshake through a cracked straw allowing air in.
If the unions were only checked visibly for oil leaks, I would have someone tighten them with a couple of small wrenches.
It's a Nordyne or Miller down flow furnace specific for mobile homes.
There's absolutely no need for the 2 unions outside. For all your trouble and to help save their reputation, they owe you a new oil line complete. They come in 50 ft rolls so it should plenty to run between the tank and burner. The line as is isn't even insulated, and the spot where it runs between the brick and the tank, how long will it take for that to cause a leak? And they need to install a Firomatic valve at the burner per code.
However, the safety issue coinciding with the temperature bothers me. And it bothers me that pressing the reset button provides a temporary fix. If it's a suction leak, then it really shouldn't be able to fire when reset. With one pipe oil line that is. 2 pipe with self priming? Maybe. Has anyone water tested the tank or checked the nozzle and strainer for evidence of water?
In order top visualize this problem I have created an illustration of your tank. The illustration on the left is your tank with the 2 problem locations shown. When the oil level is below the fittings and the fittings are not properly flared, there is a strong possibility that air will break the vacuum inside the oil line and create a air pocket the fuel pump will not be able to overcome. This fuel line configuration creates a syphon. if you let air in to the syphon, the flow will stop.
By replacing the fuel line that has 2 fittings above the fuel level in the tank, with one continuous piece of copper tubing that starts at the bottom of the inside of the tank, and ends below the bottom of the tank outside, the integrity of the siphon will be ensured. This is shown in the illustration on the right
You can show this to the installing company or the person who you choose to fix this.
Have you sent the letter or email to the installing company yet? Have you called Action News or the building inspector or the health department about this problem yet?
Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics2
@MaxMercy Thank You! Yes, the heat pump is running once the temperature is above thirty degrees. Until last weekend, when I had a professional who used to work on our old oil furnace rerun the line from the tank to the Problem#2 connection, including adding different parts on top of the tank and I believe a check valve at one place (which I had been informed is already built into the new pump, but he would not listen to me and insisted that one needed to be placed near or in the tank?), the furnace even worked great when the outside temperature is above 33 degrees outside. Our problems begin as soon as it is 33 degrees outside, every time.
I am happy to hear that you have faith in the safety of the electric heaters. I have been trying to use them safely, with no extension cords. We do have an issue with a lack of electric power in the house, though and I can't find a way to plug one in, in or near the living room, where my Mom likes to sit in the afternoon/evening. Every outlet that I have tried near the living room blows the fuse. I was able to put one in her bedroom and it kept the temperature up to at least the mid 60's last night, when we had low temps. I also managed to keep the pipes from freezing, which I was very worried about. I am hoping the new HVAC company shows up soon and helps the situation. Thank You for the advice. You make it very easy to understand and it is very helpful!0
@MaxMercy I can't believe that I used to work with making sure that subcontractors' quotations satisfied the specifications that were required for projects by looking at paperwork, blueprints and talking to people but I can't completely do it by just looking at the system in front of me. I used to be really familiar with the basics of HVAC systems but we built mostly commercial, public/government and industrial buildings and did not construct many buildings with heat pumps. We did build custom houses, not many with just heat pumps though, but some did have geothermal systems. I might have just overlooked the name, this has been very stressful and my health is not great right now.0
@Hot_water_fan Yes, it works well when the temperature is not too low. The furnace was working well, as long as the outside air was above 33 degrees, until my old furnace guy added some parts to our fuel line hook up, at the top of the tank last weekend. Now, it doesn't work at all. In other words, the fuel had no air in it as long as the air temp was above 33 degrees outside but after I asked our old furnace guy to check the fuel line, and he added parts to it, the furnace (fuel is not coming through line) is no longer working at all. I am making sure that the system it is not trying to pump, so that nothing is damaged, while the fuel is blocked. I have another HVAC company that is supposed to be coming out to work on the fuel line, to make sure that it is okay and to undo whatever he did.0
@HVACNUT Yes, they have checked at least the tank for water and other potential issues and I believe they also tested for water or any other issues with the fuel at a place that was reached from inside my home, too.
Is the lack of the Firomatic valve something that you can see on my pictures? I will write it down and make sure to bring it up, to have it put in.
The whole kicking off, locking me out and me just pushing the reset button bothers me a lot, too. There is a reason that the system has those built into it. It is to protect the system from damage and for safety reasons. Telling me to continue to just press the reset button when it goes off and showing me how to shut it down and reset it when it locks me out, seems negligent on their part, to me. I know that when the furnace runs, the burner area in the cabinet puts off much more heat than our old furnace ever did. I tell them about it and they never pay any attention to me. It is so unbelievably frustrating. If I were a man, I believe it would be different.0
Is the firomatic valve something that should be visible that is not in the pictures? Is it something that I can look for to see if it is installed or something that you can tell is not installed?0
@STEVEusaPA I see the "PA" in your name, you don't happen to be located in western PA, near WV, are you?0
You all have no idea how bad I want to order the parts and then walk outside, behind the house, to run the line, just like you all are suggesting. It is awful to not be able to do things on my own anymore. I appreciate all of you letting me know what needs done, so I know and can have it done properly. I do have a HVAC company that said they are coming out to look at it and give me a quote. I will make sure that they are including the correct work as you all have suggested. If they are too expensive, I may have someone that can try to go by your suggestions to get it run correctly. I am worried that it still may not work, though, because it was originally hooked up much differently and any connections were checked well. I am thinking that something else is not right, something less common, like a sensor or a setting, and I am still concerned with the heat that the cabinet area puts off when the furnace is running.0
STEVEusaPA said:Ed, at that point, that cut/flare joint could be right inside the building where the firomatic should be installed by code. Then no joints outside.
Nonsense though. It could've been fixed on the first trip.1
Until last weekend, when I had a professional who used to work on our old oil furnace rerun the line from the tank to the Problem#2 connection, including adding different parts on top of the tank and I believe a check valve at one place.
Your old oil burner man may not have solved your problem by connecting at Problem #2. If the fuel level in the tank goes below that line, and your oil burner man does not do excellent Leak Free Flare fitting connections then you may get air in the line at problem #2. If you looked at my diagram where the new line was installed so the connection was below the bottom of the tank the Syphon would not be affected by a leaking flare fitting.
And ... Sorry @STEVEusaPA is closer to the eastern part of the state. We are both EAGLES Fans.Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics1
@STEVEusaPA and Everyone Else who has been so kindly helping me,
I am seriously questioning where the HVAC contractor considered the starting point of "their work", as far as the fuel line coming into the whole system from the tank, and if they would have included putting the firomatic valve in, as they definitely should have by code, as part of "their work" or if it is in the part of the line that they consider "our work"? Just how far into the system for the fuel line could they have considered "our work" or maybe just left the existing fuel line in place from the old, over 56 year old furnace system? I would think that even if they would have considered it (the firomatic) as something that was part of "our work", they would have notified me and should not have considered the system complete and ready for use because it was not up to code.
Do to the new HVAC system being partially paid for with a grant, I have had no control over the company the was chosen for the work and have not received copies of the quotes or contracts to see what is or is not included or how the contract is worded. Frustratingly and perhaps completely wrongly, at this point, the organization that provided the grant, who is very aware that our HVAC is not working, says that the situation is completely between my parents and the contractor. Their response is that, the organization paid some of the cost of the system through the grant and that is their only role in the whole thing, according to them. I believe that since I don't even have a copy of the quote or contract and I did not sign the contract, that is not true. The warranty for the system is between my parents and the HVAC company although I have not been provided a copy of anything in writing. I was just told the terms of the warranty, 1 year parts and labor and 10 years of some parts(?) verbally, in person in December on the day that they thought that it was installed and done.
All of your help, suggestions and advice is much appreciated and I am paying attention to it all, because I have to get this fuel line run appropriately and the system running correctly. I will give your advice to my brother-in-law. If he is unable to make these changes or they do not work, then I will have the other HVAC company do the work, if they return my phone call and give them this info. The TigerLoop may be an answer since it can impact fuel temperature. I can also see how temperature can change the way an air leak will increase or decrease and how it can impact how the pump works. All of that said, it kicks off, either because it gets air in the fuel or because something else is making it kick off and then it gets air in it, because it ALWAYS KICKS OFF AT 33 DEGREES, which should not be low enough to cause problems. It is not like the outside air temp has been sitting at 33 degrees, it is more of when an outside reading hits 33 degrees. Right when my laptop says 33 degrees, every time. IS THERE SOME TYPE OF SENSOR IN THE SYSTEM THAT READS THE OUTSIDE AIR TEMPERATURE FOR SOME REASON?? Maybe, to control how the heat pump system runs with the furnace? Please don't tell me that the outside air temperature dropping to 33 degrees can't be making it kick off and get air in the fuel line. I have experienced it. I see it every time. I understand what you are thinking. I know why you are thinking what you are. It doesn't make logical sense to me but I don't know a lot about these systems. When the outside air temperature GOES BACK UP, OVER 33 degrees, I can just hit the RESET button once and the furnace will start running appropriately again, until the temperature goes back down to 33.
As for the the work covering the fuel line from the tank to the system, the grant provider had three companies come to the house in October, to provide quotations for different options which would include all required work to install. At first, they wanted to run an all electric system, but our electric available to the house could not handle the additional amount of electric that would be required and the additional cost to hire an electrician was too expensive, according to the provider. We do not have gas available where our house is located, so that option was out. Our in ground tank was 56 years old, if they were to put in a new heat pump with an oil furnace, which is what they decided would be the best and least expensive option, the in ground tank would have to be replaced and new line run. I know the total cost and it was very high. I know not to post numbers and won't. When the companies sent representatives out to look at our home in October, for their quotations, the Co-Owner of the company that installed our system came to our home and quoted the work. We did have to purchase the oil tank, which was difficult but eventually worked out, but everyone involved was completely aware that the new line was going to be needed to be run to the new (used) oil tank and where it would be located at the time of the quote, they suggested where it should be placed. I even asked all three companies to please let me know if any of the work to connect to the new (used) tank would not be partially or completely covered by the grant and told them that I would like a quotation for that work, if not, because I had no one to complete the work and I would rather have one company do all of the work. I also talked to my contact at the grant organization about the fuel line and tank hook up and he understood that it was all included as part of the work, just like the electrician would have been if it would have been all electric.
The employees were here doing work in December and advised me that they do not do fuel line work to tanks on oil furnaces and I would need to get it done for them to finish with the furnace. They have since checked the line for leaks, more than once and they tightened up some of the areas that they thought could be loose. I had to get my brother-in-law to run the fuel line from the tank in December. It has since been checked by the employees and a person who does work on oil furnaces. Then, when it was still supposedly getting air from somewhere, I had a person who has years of experience working with furnaces for his family business change the hook ups/valves in the line to the tank last Monday to what you see in the pictures now. The employees also told me they do do fuel line work to tanks, two weeks ago, after asking their manager. The Owner then told me they usually don't and it would cost thousands for them to do when I called for a quote a week ago, which is why I called the person that I know with experience working with oil furnaces.
I really apologize for the length of this post and others but I am trying to answer your questions completely and honestly. It is a confusing situation. It shouldn't be, though. I can't express how appreciative I am of all of your suggestions and you kindness. I know your time is valuable. Thank You once again!
@HVACNUT It is in the original single wide trailer side of the home which has the other side added on, three rooms that were pre-built units and one room that was stick built, then bricked in, with a roof built on top. About two thirds of it is (length wise) is almost touching the ground below. Then the added on side stays touching the ground but the trailer side (width wise) has some space which gets smaller as you near the furnace from another angle. I think it would be almost impossible for someone to get to the furnace from another direction unless it is a smaller sized person. The furnace is in the original, trailer, side, and we used to have good access to the old furnace through an opening with a door that we had left to access the furnace when were bricking in the home. I am being told that, whatever the HVAC company installed has completely blocked off the access that used to be there and no one can access the fuel line, other than where it already was run outside, at the spot marked Problem #2. They also removed the door and installed wood over the opening. I can see that by looking out of the window. I will ask someone to get a picture of what is blocking the access to the fuel line hook up under the home.0
A tale of woe. Not, unhappily, an unfamiliar one, and why I advise my parishioners to avoid attractive grants which involve specified contractors, if they possibly can. As one of my friends has often said, you get what you pay for. Which doesn't help your present situation.
The clue is that it happens at 33 by your thermometer (which might be a degree off...): That happens to be where water freezes. There might be liquid water in the tank, but it's also possible that there is enough entrained water in the oil to form ice crystals. Either way it's a problem. What I am thinking is happening is that whichever is the case, is that the water or ice crystals is causing enough of a restriction to force the burner's pump to pull more of a suction -- and somewhere along the line there is a joint which is leaking when under vacuum and breaking the siphon which your top feed tank relies on to transfer oil. When it warms up a little, the restriction is melted and the pump can reprime itself and fire up when you hit the reset button.
A small leak under vacuum is hard to find, but not hard to diagnose, if someone can put a vacuum pump and gauge on the line at your boiler. Pressure testing the line won't find it -- it's quite common for a line to leak under a vacuum, but not under pressure.
Now how you are going to fix the problem is another matter. What really needs to happen is that a single unbroken line needs to be run from the pickup elevation in the tank, out the top, down and then under your single wide and back up to the connection to a shutoff valve, filter, possibly a fireomatic valve, and then the pump -- all out where it can be worked on at the boiler. No or fittings anywhere else along the line. How you are going to do that, given the limited access, I honestly don't know, since I'm not there -- but using flexible copper and, very likely, an electrician's snake of something of the sort, and a hand hole through the floor at the boiler, it should be possible for an ingenious craftsman and his or her helper to manage it without having to go under the single wide. The next trick is going to be finding the craftsman...Br. Jamie, osb
Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England4
in my experience if it was a suction leak bringing in air the unit would not start on resetting it as it would need to be primed. This is not true 100% of the time but usually it is. I think there is a fuel gelling or freezing issue going on there based on it being temperature driven. I would recommend having someone put an oil watcher ( a vacuum gauge with clear tubing attached to see what is happening inside the oil lines) on the system when it gets down around the temperature where it locks out to check the running vacuum. I am a fan of the tiger loop on outside tanks as it warms the oil and also allows the pump to operate properly under higher vacuum conditions. I do not like them for concealing suction leaks so if the oil watcher shows any air then a new line with no unions outside would be the best resolution.John RingelEnergy Kinetics2
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