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Worst kind of problem - INTERMITTENT S/W hookup firing
in Oil Heating
I have an OLD furnace that is a summer winter hookup providing both hot water and baseboard heat. The furnace is apparently an Ultimate K61. It's so old that I can't find any info on it the internet. If I had to guess it might be 50 years old since I've been in the house 25 years and it appeared at least that old when we moved in. The burner has been replaced in that time and it's apparently an old, rebuilt-ish Beckett AFG burner with a single red button that I believe is a reset button. It's the button I've had to push more and more lately when the burner/furnace refuses to fire periodically. The aquastat is also very old and I'm guessing it's a Honeywell 8124 24V Triple although I haven't found any markings to confirm that. It's hooked up to a Nest thermostat. Intermittently I'll discover that the burner hasn't fired for a call for heat or hot water. Nearly every time it will fire up when I press the reset button without any more intervention than that. A call for heat will cause a click in the aquastat. I wonder if if the call is always getting through to the burner. Intermittent is terrible for diagnosing things, but I am grateful that it does fire with the reset button. I'm not so good with a power meter, but I have seen advice for others that talk about checking the aquastat board to see if it's getting the proper resistance or making the proper calls, but I'm not super-confident in exactly what that would look like. We used to have a great furnace guy, but he passed away several years ago and my confidence in the folds we've had in here since isn't very high. One guy "accidentally" disconnected the aquastat from the thermostat and couldn't get the furnace to fire after cleaning it, called his boss, who also didn't discover the disconnected wire and it wasn't until the furnace hit the low and fired based on the call for hot water that they had resolved that it was back in working order. Mind you it was a working furnace that just needed an annual cleaning. It was later when I discovered it still wasn't getting a call for heat that there was simply a disconnected wire. In any event I don't have a heater guy that I trust to come in here and spend significant time diagnosing and would rather try some limited troubleshooting myself first. No one wants to take it on a service contract because it looks so old and pieced together and this is the first time in 25 years we've ever had problems like this. Everyone suggests replacing it, but other than this and a circulator that my 11 year old and I replaced ourselves years ago, the thing has run great. Any thoughts? Aguastat? Burner? That eye thing?
If it fails to fire, but then fires up with just one push of the reset -- it's almost sure to be an ignition issue. But... whether that is worn electrodes or just misadjusted electrodes, or a partly clogged nozzle or a failing ignition transformer... could be any one of those.Br. Jamie, osb
Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England0
Had my routine cleaning. I was off schedule so this technically only 8 months or so after the last one, but I'll try to get it back to a fall cleaning now. However, after 3 days I did have to reset again on a call for heat. I mentioned having to reset on occasion, but the maintenance mechanic didn't find anything out of the ordinary. He replaced the nozzle, the filter and another cheap item I can't make out on the invoice. Like every other mechanic we've had in since our unaffiliated mechanic, he's recommending replacing it. Again, this is the first issue we've had in in over a decade and I'm guessing it's a simple fix by a qualified mechanic or a handier homeowner good at diagnostics. Why would I spend upwards towards 10K if a aquastat, ignition electrodes, or even the whole motor has gone bad? His argument was that the price of these furnaces goes up every year so best to get it done now; if I had done this 10 years ago I could be looking at issues with this one now. It seems the old stuff was built better. He reports it's still burning at 80% efficiency which might be a tiny bit low, but not much from what I saw.0
Can you take a picture of your boiler? Post it here so I might be able to look at it. I have sympathy for oil heat system owners that lose their Oil Burner guy from retirement or death. Sometimes the only thing to do is to replace it with something new in order to get service from a less experienced tech. I don't believe you need to do that. The parts you have mentioned are very common. L8124 triple aquastat relay is still available at most heating supply houses. BUT I WOULD REPLACE IT WITH A LESS EXPENSIVE L7224U if needed. that has more features that you may want.
The R8184G control (with the reset button) is also still available if you need one, BUT I WOULD REPLACE THAT WITH A CARLIN 70200 PRO primary control with more features.
There are several ways to find a good oil heat technician. (not a mechanic that just changes parts). Sometimes you need to use a Fuel Dealer that has in-house service technicians in order to get service, but they may require that you purchase oil from them in order to use their service department.
Another way is to call your oil supplier and ask who they recommend for oil burner service. You see, they can't sell you oil if you don't burn oil. If your oil burner is broken and you don't burn oil, then it is their best interest for you to get it fixed. They should know someone that can help you.
Picture of your burner from about 3 feet back and from far enough back to see the floor to ceiling piping to the boiler.
Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics0
I believe Ultimate was a rebadged boiler from another manufacturer, maybe Utica? There are quite a few of them in Massachusetts, because Coen Brothers, one of the largest oil dealers there, sold a great many. My experience with them was in the early 1980s. They are dry base, and while reasonably efficient, that one is probably very near the end of its life.—
So it's been a little over 3 weeks and it is much better. Sure there were two times where I thought it wasn't responding to the calls for heat, but it never completely cooled so maybe I was mistaken. I saw one personally and the other was second-hand information. Either way, the cleaning does appear to have made a significant difference and it's running like it's not nearly 50 years old. On a related note, is there any easy way to see (and maybe clean) inside the oil tank in my crawl space? Again that's likely been there longer than 50 years since the house is nearly 70 years old. I hear sludge builds over time.0
Probably time to consider replacing the tank after 50 years. Think of it as an investment. You put a thousand or two into a stock, bond or even a CD. In a number of years you end up with more than you started with. Good investment! If you don't put that money in the investment you may just spend it frivolously and you have nothing to show for it, in a few years.mikeydubs23 said:
So it's been a little over 3 weeks and it is much better. Sure there were two times where I thought it wasn't responding to the calls for heat, but it never completely cooled so maybe I was mistaken. I saw one personally and the other was second-hand information. Either way, the cleaning does appear to have made a significant difference and it's running like it's not nearly 50 years old. On a related note, is there any easy way to see (and maybe clean) inside the oil tank in my crawl space? Again that's likely been there longer than 50 years since the house is nearly 70 years old. I hear sludge builds over time.
You put that same money in the new tank and in 10 years you never lose any of that precious fuel into the ground from a leak, and you don't need to pay six figures to clean up that environmental mess that leak caused. …Only to find the insurance company has a “Clause” that does not cover you. After you get all the work done, you need to declare bankruptcy because you can never afford to pay the bill. Perhaps if you don't get a new tank, you should think about putting all your assets in someone else's name so they can keep it when you have to go bankrupt.
I’m available if you go the re-distribute assets route.
Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics0
> Another way is to call your oil supplier and ask who they recommend for oil burner service. You see, they can't sell you oil if you don't burn oil.
The other side of that coin is they can sell you more oil if your boiler burns oil inefficiently1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG1
No way to clean a residential steel oil tank and attempting to could very well result in an oil leak. A fifty year old steel tank is well past it's safe useful life. In a crawl space makes it particularly vulnerable do to likely inattention.0
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