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intermittent lockouts

crabbydad
crabbydad Member Posts: 25
i have a becket afg burner with a f3 head. i have been experiencing intermittent lockouts for the last couple of weeks. initially, i changed the nozzle and filter, which was pretty gummed up. i purchased the house near the end of last winter, so i'm not sure the last time this was done. the fact that the indoor tank was built in and covered with paneling with no access panel to access the valve, leads me to believe it had been awhile since the filer was changed. the problem still persisted, so i changed the electrode because the old ones were worn flat on the ends. lockouts ranged from 1-4 days, and usually fired right back up when i reset it. sometime there was delayed ignition of 3-4 seconds. there is no delay on the oil pump. i had a tech in to check it, but of course it ran and fired perfectly. yesterday when i came home from work it was on safety lockout. i opened the small cover a little and turned out the light before resetting the burner. the combustion chamber was totally dark for approximately 4 seconds intil it fired. is this definetly a bad transformer, or could something else ,possibly the primary control cause this problem? currently it has a france,5LAY-04 transformer.

 thanks for any advise
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Comments

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Locked Out:

    Those things are the bain of my existence. I'm totally convinced that they were designed by some hateful person to make my life miserable. But, I'm still happy.

    I've never seen this trick mentioned but I do it to every one of those hateful things and it usually stops these problems if all else fails and the head is carboned up. It is only on the ends. Take on old 3/4" or 1/2" copper fitting brush with a handle. Stick it down the burner tube (your hand will get very dirty) and scrape the carbon off the end cone. You can't always see it looking down the tube but if you run your finger over the end, you will feel it. A judicious scrap with the fitting brush usually fixes it. It seems that carbon, being a conductor, sometimes will allow the spark to go to ground upon start up. I can usually tell if I don't hear the spark at first, or I never hear the spark. But can pull an arc across the buss bars of the transformer.

    There can be other causes. I just haven't heard that one mentioned. I keep a few old worn out fitting brushes in my burner box for just such occasions.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    I would

    next time you reset it, turn it off just after it light off, and then look in the chamber. If there is after burn, than you have or had an ignition, or low pump pressure occurance when it tried to start previous cycle. You could have a bad burner motor, coupling, cad cell control, and so on. I would start with a thorough cleaning, and if the filter at the tank is not accessible, have the tech blow the line, and mount the filter at the burner for future servicing. The strainer and nozzle also needs to be replaced.
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    i will try that

    the second or third time i had it apart i looked down the tube and i saw a lot of residue around the cone. it wasn't carbon. it wasn't hard. it cleaned it with a rag and put it back together. after that cleaning, it actually ran for 4 days before locking out. i think i'm getting plenty of fuel. when the tech was here, he did check the transformer with a screwdriver  and it looked ok maybe a little weak. but when i looked in the window during the delayed ignition, there was definetly no spark across the electrodes. i will open it back up and clean the cone with a fitting brush. that seems like a good idea. have you ever seen a transformer work intermittently? off or on, rather than just produce a weak spark? i had thought about blowing out the line, but it seems like it is getting plenty of fuel. it lights as soon as the electrodes are energized

    thanks, crabbydad
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    i will try that

    the second or third time i had it apart i looked down the tube and i saw a lot of residue around the cone. it wasn't carbon. it wasn't hard. it cleaned it with a rag and put it back together. after that cleaning, it actually ran for 4 days before locking out. i think i'm getting plenty of fuel. when the tech was here, he did check the transformer with a screwdriver  and it looked ok maybe a little weak. but when i looked in the window during the delayed ignition, there was definetly no spark across the electrodes. i will open it back up and clean the cone with a fitting brush. that seems like a good idea. have you ever seen a transformer work intermittently? off or on, rather than just produce a weak spark? i had thought about blowing out the line, but it seems like it is getting plenty of fuel. it lights as soon as the electrodes are energized

    thanks, crabbydad
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,302
    transformers

    Ignition transformers can get intermittent before they finally die, it's usually arcing between layers on the HV winding. I had to replace my 14 year old transformer on my AFG a couple of years ago because of intermittent hard starting. I took care NOT to buy the electronic version.



    The only way to be sure is to replace it, they don't give them away but worse that happens is you end up with a spare on the shelf.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    more lockouts

    yesterday it locked out twice. it restarted on the first try with delayed ignition. this morning it was off again. it didn't ignite on the first try, so i took it apart. following ice sailors suggestion, i cleaned around the cone with a 3/4 fitting cleaner. the end cone was wet with oil and there was carbon around it on the face., but nothing actually sticking out beyond. i vacuumed it out, wiped everything off and put it back together. i fired right away, but its done this many times before . i was tempted to just get a new transformer yesterday, but, when i realized last week that the realtor had actually given us a free 1 yr. home warranty, i called them and had someone look at it. of course it ran fine when the tech checked it out. i called them back friday eve. but probably wont get a call back until monday. since i already paid the $100, i'd rather let them pay for the transformer.

     thanks
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Also have him check

    the "Z" dimension, with a gauge. You evidently have a transformer, and not an electronic ignitor, so what you see is what you get with those. Electronic ignitors can work today and not tomorrow. There are other causes of no or delayed ignition. Excess air, low pump pressure, wrong nozzle, air in fuel supply due to plugged filters, etc, low incoming voltage, draft problems, spark going to ground, pinched transformer wires, and the list can go on. How long was the spark when it was tested, and what color?
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited February 2012
    Carbon Crud:

    That's the stuff I'm talking about. But did you put your finger on the outside, the side facing the combustion chamber? That's where I find the crud. And when I find one like yours that stops going off for a period, and starts again. it is the crud.I also find that with that burner, you MUST use the nozzle brand, spray pattern and angle that the boiler manufacturer suggests. It is almost always a Delavan. It is almost always an 80 degree spray angle and a "B" (Solid) or "H" (Hollow) spray. Most of the ones I find that are problems have some odd nozzle in them. The problem goes away when I go back to what is recommended. I have always considered a "B" or a "H" to be a Delavan.Billtwocase may suggest otherwise. He sees far more of these old clunkers than I do. What I say has worked for me. 



    What nozzle brand, type and spray are you using?
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    off again

    just got home from grocery shopping and its on lockout again. did not reset on first try, so i'll let it sit while i put the groceries away. i don't remember what color the spark was when he checked it. the first time he checked he said it was maybe a little weak, but then he checked the other side and said it looked ok. when i looked thru the window after pushing the reset the other day, there was no spark at all until ignition, probably 4 or 5 seconds after hitting the reset. i'm going to make sue there are not any pinched wires or loose connections at the primary. if the electrodes were grounding out on the end cone, wouldn't i still see a spark illuminating in the combustion chamber? also, after checking the spark, he put the transformer back down and BOOM, there was a heck of a blowback. to check spark, i just need a insulated handled screwdriver, and ground the spring to the base of the transformer, making sure not to touch any part of the transformer with anything else? is that correct?

     thanks, crabbydad
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Replacements:

    When in doubt, replace the transformer.

    Use an electronic ignitor.
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    nozzle

    i am using a .85 80A
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    transformer

    unfortunately, i can't get a transformer today. i could get by without heat, but i have an indirect water heater. my wife wont be happy if she can't take a shower tomorrow. does anyone know of any place open today where i could get a replacement for a france 5LAY-04?
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    What boiler/furnace

    do you have, and what was his combustion test results? I wouldn't replace it with an electronic ignitor unless it is, or has the capability of interrupted ignition.
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    in maryland

    glenarm
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    boiler

    he didn't do a combustion test. i have a peerless WBV-04 boiler with a beckett afg with a f3 head
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    if you

    have a Sid Harvey near you, get a T92, not a T92E, that is electronic. What cad cell control is on there?
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    also

    how can he know whether or not it is set right without a combustion test? Sounds like excess air and poor adjustments to me. Although the transformer may be weak, there are other factors involved that he may not have explored
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    did very little

    he didn't do very much,checked the spark on the transformer, turn it off and on several times. it of course purred like a kitten while he was here.  it cost me $100 for the deductible on the home warranty, so i really want him to fix it so it doesn't cost me any more.it runs smooth once it ignites. the problem is much worse now. i need to get him back here tomorrow. otherwise i may just buy a transformer and see if that takes care of the problem for now, then have everything checked by someone. i'm going to go down and check the combustion side of the cone and possibly using a mirror see how the electrodes sit in relationship to the center of the cone. thanks for the advise

              crabbydad
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    cad cell

    it has honeywell 7184u, interrupted ignition.
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    cleaned combustion side of cone

    still locking out, every couple of hours. hopefully i can get the tech back tomorrow. if i can't, i'm going to take a chance and replace the transformer.

    thanks.
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    replaced transformer

    hope this solves the problem. ignited immediately. will post results

    crabbydad
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    keep us up to date

    good luck to you
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    problem solved

    burner hasn't locked out in 3 days. i'll wait a few more before i throw the old transformer in the recycle can. thanks to everyone who helped.

      crabbydad
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    lockout again

    ran great for 8 days after replacing the transformer. my wife had to take a quick cold shower this morning. it fired right back up. not sure where to go from here. i'll open it up and take a look  when i get home from work, but that probably wont tell me anything. this morning when i went down to reset it, the door to the laundry room/furnace room was closed. the dryer was running last night.could the combination of dryer running and door closed when the burner was trying to light have caused a problem with the fresh air? i know this is a shot in the dark.

    crabbydad
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    you would

    have soot if it was an air intake issue
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,269
    edited February 2012
    Unfortunately

    Sid closed their Baltimore area branch some years ago.



    Crabbydad, Glenarm is real close to us. If you have any more trouble, get in touch. We stock every part that burner might need, and we ALWAYS set burners up with a digital analyzer.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    still running

    its been 2 days and still running. i'm gonna wait and see what happens. i wanted to wait till after the heating season and give a good cleaning. i'm not sure the last time it was cleaned. the tag on the side has 2009 as the last time the oil co. performed maintenance.i think whatever made it lockout the last time is a different problem. i think the transformer solved the initial problem. i no longer have delayed ignition. if i can't resolve it, i'll have to get steamhead in to fix it.
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    still locking out

    but it runs for 7-10 days before doing so. now when it locks out, it is locked out when i wake up in the morning. i know one of the times it was a a very windy night. any thoughts?

      thanks,

             crabbydad
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    needs to be

    cleaned/serviced, and set up. Is there a draft control installed? Breech and over fire draft may be too high. Can you post some pics? This may help
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Ultimate Solutions:

    That may be, but after what you have been through. I've been through that too.

    That burner has had an evil eye cast upon it and has become  as hateful as it can be and is hell bent on making your remaining days as miserable as it can make it.

    I have found on more than a few occasions with that hated (by me) infernal device, that the only way to break free of it is to remove it and put a Carlin EZ-1 in it. For the more than a few that I have done this with, I never EVER had another flame failure. Some may prefer Riellos, another fine choice, but I like the Carlins because I don't have to go out and buy all new tools to work on them. Like special metric gauges to check the pressure. I have enough specialized tools already.  

    Some times, there is a hidden flaw in something that we just cannot see or find.
  • Duff
    Duff Member Posts: 60
    need a good tech

    Hi Crab,

    been reading all the different post for your problem,you need to get a good oil burner tech in to look over your entire system. I've been doing oil burners for a while and sounds like no one is finding the cause to your problem,they stop looking at the entire system soon as the burner fires and the underlining problem may still be there.Many factors go into a good burner operation,Bill mentioned draft(need a draft gauge for this) reading are taken over the fire as well as in the breech.You mentioned the oil filter, did you change the one on the burner as well as the one by the tank? Oil pump pressure(checked with a gauge) does the pump pressure stay within 20% of the manufactures specs when the pump is shut off? How about water in your oil tank! Did anyone check this. Do you have a two pipe or one pipe oil system? Air leaking into the oil lines could cause you problems as well. On smaller boilers the AFG requires a LOW FIRE RATE BAFFLE, does yours? What are your CO2 readings? Did you do a smoke test? You just bought this House so who knows what problems your up against,there may be a few. Many more things come into play,I've only told you a few so you can realize how complicated this can be but one thing is for sure...if you don't pick up the phone and get it running your gonna have to answer to the boss...THE WIFE
  • crabbydad
    crabbydad Member Posts: 25
    update

    still experienced occasional lockouts after heating season ended. now it was always happening in the morning when the indirect called for heat. i switched oil companies and bought a service plan. the tech came out did a thorough cleaning. one thing he did find that may have been the problem was a small drip at the valve at the bottm of the tank. he tightened the packing and added another valve close to the filter. he did a combustion check and everything was ok. that was back in april and i haven't had a lockout yet. i quess the small drip was enough to get enough air in the line so it timed out. it would always fire right up on the first reset. the valve wasn't leaking when i changed the filter, i quess opening and closing the valve must have loosened the packing.
    jason_6
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    you still have the problem

    that small drip is gravity fed, and won't affect the operation. Oil leaks are to be fixed, but that won't stop operation
  • Patchogue Phil_2
    Patchogue Phil_2 Member Posts: 303
    And now?

    Any updates?
  • BigLou70
    BigLou70 Member Posts: 4
    Same problem

      Hi,

    I know this post is old, but I figured it covered everything I am experiencing. I have forced air heat and seperate hot water tank both have their own individual Beckett guns. The water heater is about 20yrs. old, the burner is 2yrs.old. I had intermittant lockouts in the winter months on the heating system since it was installed. Over the last two weeks I noticed I could no longer reset the lockout by cycling the power, I had to physically push the button on the controller. Now, over a few days, it is locking out constantly overnight and sometimes won't restart.

      Had a techs in three times this past week, they did normal maintenance and checks and suggested a new thermostat, which didn't fix the problem. One suggested a weak transformer might be a cause, but I really would like to fix this problem before next season. All the techs said the controller isn't the problem, but can't explain why the new reset method. It is the R7184B1024 Honeywell. I know it's obsolete and I'm tempted to replace it and the trans.

      What to do? And by the way, it's kind of impossible to tell any techs, unless they know you, what tests they should perform, or checks to make. So i'll be doing this myself, otherwise I'll be swapping out the Beckett and install another brand.

               Thanks
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Locked Out:

    R7184G1024 controls are NOT obsolete. There are better controls but it is not "Obsolete".

    If you don't have a 10 Micron Spin-On filter at the burner, have one installed. Or do it yourself.

    Get a container for oil like a tray. Carefully, pull out the nozzle/electrode assembly. Keep it as horizontal/flat as you can. When it is out, put the nozzle end UP and the bottom over the tray. Does the oil rush out of it or does it drip out or not at all? If it is slow to drain out, the nozzle strainer is plugged up. Make sure that the proper 80 degree nozzle is in place.

    Look down the burner tube with a flashlight. There's a hole in the middle the size of a quarter. Do you see any black crud around the edges of the hole? Stick your hand down the tube and your finger through the hole and feel the inside where you can't see. Do you feel any rough crusty stuff? If you do, take a old 1/2" or 3/4" copper fitting brush and brush the carbon off the edges of the hole. Brush any and all carbon deposits from the retention head.

    If the electrode porcelains are black and you can wipe the black off easily with your finger, it is probably shorting to the carbon when it is trying to start.

    When it goes to start, learn to identify the "scratching" sound of the arcing spark. You should hear it as soon as the burner motor gets the call to start. The flame should start almost immediately after that. If you do not hear the scratching, and no flame, then you hear the scratching and it starts, you have delayed ignition. You should always hear the scratching while the burner is running and flame is established with that control. If you don't hear the scratching, it will NOT start.

    Thoroughly clean the nozzle/electrode assembly. Get a 1/2 pint can of CLEAR PVC pipe & fitting cleaner. It is the best and cheapest cleaner you can buy. Clean it thoroughly. You can buy an adjustment gauge but that's complicated and another issue. Hopefully, after as many service calls you have had, it is properly adjusted. But, you never know.

    If you find that the nozzle strainer was plugged up or restricted, put the Spin-On filter on as soon as possible, replace the pump strainer and nozzle. The nozzle strainers can not be cleaned. Look to see if there are any very old nozzles left around from before you started having problems. If the nozzle in place doesn't match what is laying around, replace it with the same brand, type and spray angle that was there before.

    You have to go back to a happier time.

    I only tell you this because you seem to be ready to tackle this on your own because you have been let down. If you complete the above, you have completed my Step 1 basic **** is wrong with this thing.

    Hopefully, it will take you back to a happier time.

    Let us know what you find and how you make out.
  • BigLou70
    BigLou70 Member Posts: 4
    Trouble all night

      Thanks icesailor. It is frustrating. The tech yesterday was more helpful. He changed filter, checked nozzle and gaps, etc. He said spark was weaker than he would like and there was some condensation/water in the fuel, but not much. He recommend I do the trans myself and add an additive to break down the water. I have seen the nozzle assembly myself and it looks brand new. The rods are clean and bright, no crud anywhere. It is only 2 years old. I ordered a new R7284B1024 controller, an OEM 15571U ignitor, and additive. I will tackle this myself and post results when complete.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Spending money:

    I have replaced nozzles one day and came back the next to change them again because they were plugged up. They were brand new. 24 hours old.

    I stopped that foolishness when I switched exclusively to Spin On's and eliminated one source of problems. If you have a canister type filter with paper elements, those filters are 50+ microns and will pass through pump strainers but not nozzle strainers. I discovered this by changing an odd nozzle one day and having the burner stop. Because I took the strainer off of another good nozzle and the nozzle then worked, it had to be the nozzle strainer. It was. Spin On's solved the problem.

    There was such a problem with sludge in tanks that I started buying obsolete nozzles at a bargain to rob the new strainers off new nozzles that I had just installed and the strainers were dirty.

    In over 40 years of doing it, I can't say that I really ever saw an electrode set that was bad that you couldn't tell it was.  If you thoroughly clean them off with PVC cleaner and wipe them down, unless you see carbon tracks on the porcelain, it isn't bad. The bad ones were the ones that the wire was too badly burned away and couldn't be bent into adjustment. Get the Beckett adjustment gauge. Its difficult to use. You'll have trouble with it. That's why I Iike the Carlin EZ-1. Its an easy one. Its idiot proof for idiots like me.

    I seriously doubt that there is anything wrong with the R8184G1024 control. Do the checkout test. Jump out the two yellow FF terminals. Turn on the power. The burner shouldn't start. If it does, replace the control. While the power is still on and the burner hasn't started, disconnect one jumper. The burner should start. If it was running before, it will start. After (as soon as) it starts, connect the yellow wire back up. After it has been running for a few minutes, remove one yellow wire. In 45 seconds, the burner will stop and the control will lock out. The control is working properly. Then, there is the "eye". Another issue.

    I really think that you have a fuel issue. But I'm not there. If the ignition isn't dead, its almost always fuel.



    Then, there's my other thing.

    My resolution for a bad running Beckett is a new Carlin EZ-1. Worked every time. Riello's are good too but need more experience on the part of the installers..
  • BigLou70
    BigLou70 Member Posts: 4
    Carlin

      Thanks again icesailor. The thing that gets me is this issue has been occuring the first winter the unit was installed, only not as bad as recent week. It has a single line feed and does have the fuel solenoid. Another part to consider I guess. Once I've exhausted my current attempts, I will start shopping a Carlin before next season. Thanks for all advice.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Solenoids:

    Its not the solenoid. Trust me. Very highly unlikely.

    The thing about it starting right away is always a clue. Those of us that have worked on them a lot, will hear that spark "scratching" as soon as the relay clicks to start the burner. Even before the motor starts to run. If it isn't scratching, there's a problem. If it is an old iron core transformer, it may be getting weak. If it is a solid state transformer, it is claimed that they work until they don't. There's no in between. I have had experiences that say that it isn't so. Becketts are extremely prone to bad adjustments. You need to know which head you have and how it is to be fired to know which settings to use. With a Carlin EZ-1, you just get the plastic gauge, loosen the igniters, move them until they set properly in the notches, and tighten the 5/16" set screw. Put it back in and you're good to go. If you were there when a tech set the spark and nozzle and he didn't have the gauge out, he's a lot better than I because I have never been able to accurately set them without the use of the gauge.

    Which can bring up another thing. There are instant on solenoids and there are delayed solenoids. Which wait some times amount of time before the valve opens and sends fuel to the nozzle. Delayed oil valves came into vogue way back in the  beginning of time to solve some problem. If you have a 15 second control (you don't) and a 10 second delay on the valve, the control only has 5 seconds to decide to stay running.

    There's only two things that make then not run. Lack of fuel or lack of spark. It can be both.