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You can tell how long ago this was "serviced"

Steamhead
Steamhead Member Posts: 14,514
by the fact that the whole bottom of the boiler was a mass of sulfur. Fuel oil has been ultra-low-sulfur for some years now:



This is a Crown CTPB-5, a cast-iron Scotch Marine 3-pass unit, with a Beckett AFG. Besides the sulfur, it had a hollow nozzle when it should have had a solid, and the draft regulator had fallen apart. The house dates to about 1955, and has baseboard and convectors.

Took me most of a day to get it running properly- and my soot-vac was HEAVY when I finished. But it tuned up nicely.

Not the first time I've seen this when this particular oil company was involved. What were they thinking? If this house had gas service, I could have sold a conversion right then and there...............
All Steamed Up, Inc.
Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
Oil & Gas Burner Service
Consulting

Comments

  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,773
    The fact that it tuned up nicely after years (decades?) of abuse impresses me, both the equipment and the tech.
    SlamDunkmattmia2bucksnortEdTheHeaterMan
  • Ctoilman
    Ctoilman Member Posts: 75
    Oil equipment can take A LOT of abuse, yet still run.  What stack temp did the boiler steady-state at?  What nozzle did you install?  Any pics after it was cleaned up?  Thanks!

  • BDR529
    BDR529 Member Posts: 182
    You were a true pioneer! First guy to service it since it was installed.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,514
    Stack was 421.3° on a 1.00x60° nozzle @ 140 PSI- this burner has a V-head so 60° is correct. Smoke was zero- I don't tolerate even a "trace". Interestingly, the boiler's rating plate said the firing rate was 1 GPH, but the manual said 1.35. I split the difference at 1.2, and the numbers told the story.

    The house is being sold, so the fuel-savings figures probably won't be a direct comparison. Still, it's obviously much better. The seller had to pick his jaw up from the floor when he saw the state the boiler was in, and he wants us to do the boiler in his new house. I didn't get an after pic.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    bucksnort
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,653
    Were they paying for yearly "service" or did the homeowner just not have it serviced?

    Out of curiosity has anyone ever heard of a homeowner going back on a service company for not doing the job they were paid to do? I'm sure I know the answer, but I also know as a homeowner if I had found out I was paying for what amounts to nothing, heads would be rolling.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Canucker
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,514
    Current HO was only there for a year. Not sure what previous owners did, but they were there for a long time.

    A fuel supplier servicing equipment sounds like a huge conflict of interest to me. What interest does someone selling fuel have in making equipment run as efficiently as possible?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    STEVEusaPAbucksnortSuperTech
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,514
    BDR529 said:

    You were a true pioneer! First guy to service it since it was installed.

    o:)
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,108
    edited May 4
    People know that if they neglect their car they will soon be walking. Unfortunately this thinking does not translate to the HVAC industry.

    It's like the old Fram oil filter commercial for those who can remember.

    "You can pay me now or pay me later"

    I had one rule when I was in business. "I will only suck soot and clean up your sooty mess one time" Once I get it running right and you neglect it, don't call me when you have no heat and it's all sooted up years later.


    Unfortunately, for most technicians a "clean up" is to toss a soot stick in the boiler and change the nozzle and the filter.

    If they do clean the flue passages, they don't open up and vacuum the combustion chamber or take down and clean the flue pipe.

    If the equipment is running right with today's burners, it shouldn't need a complete cleaning every year
    SuperTechCharlie from wmass
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,004
    Steamhead said:

    ...A fuel supplier servicing equipment sounds like a huge conflict of interest to me. What interest does someone selling fuel have in making equipment run as efficiently as possible?

    You did a fine job cleaning/service/tuning the boiler, as any competent professional would (should).
    But I can't go with you on this. That's your perspective because you don't own an oil company. There are many oil companies, small and large, that do a great job with service with top notch competent techs.
    It's like saying what business do car dealerships have in repairing cars and having them run well. If they run poorly, they can sell the customer a new car.
    I don't know of any full service company that says to run the units inefficiently so we can have more service calls and sell more oil.
    If you know of one, you should turn them into the Attorney General's office, as a good citizen protecting consumers.
    steve
    Charlie from wmass
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,011
    For my 1000th post, I will say that this homeowner was damned lucky to get you because I think the odds are, any other technician would have failed this test. Nice work!
  • Ctoilman
    Ctoilman Member Posts: 75
    That AFG with the V-head is IMO the very best oil burner in the business, clearly better than a Riello or Carlin.  
    420 stack actually seems high for that boilers, I was expecting no more than 350...probably still a bit dirty but you could only do what you could do...I'll get cleaner as it runs some more.  Nice job!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,514

    Steamhead said:

    ...A fuel supplier servicing equipment sounds like a huge conflict of interest to me. What interest does someone selling fuel have in making equipment run as efficiently as possible?

    You did a fine job cleaning/service/tuning the boiler, as any competent professional would (should).
    But I can't go with you on this. That's your perspective because you don't own an oil company. There are many oil companies, small and large, that do a great job with service with top notch competent techs.
    It's like saying what business do car dealerships have in repairing cars and having them run well. If they run poorly, they can sell the customer a new car.
    I don't know of any full service company that says to run the units inefficiently so we can have more service calls and sell more oil.
    If you know of one, you should turn them into the Attorney General's office, as a good citizen protecting consumers.
    Well, I base that on the business model we see around here. You'd never get them to admit it in public, but I can't think of any other reason to short-change on service- can you?

    I always tell my new customers that the first time we service their oil-fired boiler it will probably take several hours. The usual response is that the oil company is in and out in 45 minutes. When I open the boiler, they see why our first time takes longer and why the oil company got in and out so fast. But the next year, there isn't much cleaning to do because the burner was set up properly.

    @Ctoilman , you might be right that more dirt may work loose. It'll be interesting to see what happens next year. BTW all, forgot to mention this burner got a new primary control and delay valve yesterday as well. So, control-wise, we brought it into the 21st Century.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    SuperTech
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,108
    @Steamhead

    My first year in the business 73' fresh out of school I went to work for an oil company cleaning boilers. Even though we had Becket AF and Carlin 100 crd came out a couple of years earlier none of the stuff I worked on had those. Petro burners installed in the 20s and 30s was what I saw. And oil was still cheap prior to the 1977 ish embargo so no one wanted a new burner. Plus the previous service clowns never took down a smoke pipe. Most jobs the smoke pipe would be 1/3 clogged and boilers as well. Sometimes the chimney was clogged. Came home every day looking like the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins

    Anyhow they had me scheduled to clean 4/day which was 2 hours each-driving time and a quick bite. Wasn't happening. I talked them down to 3/day which was enough time to do a pretty good cleaning if the customers wern't too far apart. I had the larger size soot vac and sometimes filled that on 1 job. But that left little time to try and improve combustion fooling with the dumbells to take Co2 etc

    After that my rule started: I will only suck soot on a boiler 1 time only. If they don't maintain it call someone else
  • Kickstand55
    Kickstand55 Member Posts: 28
    I've seen a lot of this over the years. Many oil companies around NH, the big ones, and one small outfit I know allow only one hour for a clean and tune.
    Ironically, I met a man I knew from years ago who was servicing a plumbing customer's boiler, (we were there at the same time), Chatted for a bit as he was changing the filter. (I wonder if he'll see this post).
    I came back down to the basement to exit through the garage. What I saw was appalling. He was writing up the service ticket with the vacuum cleaner running, hose still reeled in the cage, then grabbed his water pump pliers and began banging on the header pipes. Never opened the flue cover to look. True story.
    When I was younger, yes, I was, my boss would get mad at me for thoroughly cleaning boilers and furnaces. We has tons of no heat calls especially during the first cold spell. Those went away. He eventually let up after calls dropped. I'm just a regular guy, nothing special, trying to do the right thing.
    Two points I remember when I attended New England Fuel Institute for oil burner classes back in 1976. Barry Stone, the instructor, who looked like Jackie Gleason sporting a pencil mustache, walking back and forth with cigarette in hand said, " You're about to enter the most disrespected trade of trades", and "If you don't do it right, you did it wrong. Barry was a great instructor. I was 20 old then and that became indelible in my mind. Now I'm almost 66 years young. Another irony...
    It's raining out today and I'm not going to work. My Rite of Passage.
    Charlie from wmass
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,108
    Yes, I have herd plenty of stories of the vacuum cleaner running with an empty stomach. Change the nozzle, change the filter and throw in a soot stick. Done.

    Unfortunately, if the oil burner techs were disrespected 40 years ago you can imagine how much worse the situation is now.

    Parts changers, If they can't google the answer they are lost. I taught at the union hall for 5 years. Gave up, wasting my time for the most part. Felt guilty taking the money and not being able to actually teach anyone
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,514
    I think "the ones that do it right" are all posting on this board.

    @Ctoilman , after seeing your post about stack temps on these boilers, I went back and looked at the parts diagram in the manual and what do you know- there are supposed to be baffles in the third pass. Again, not the first time I've seen missing baffles- and we all know why they disappeared......

    On this job, however, the smoke pipe is about 12 feet long (I know, I know) and it isn't double-wall, so we may need to leave it as is so the chimney doesn't condense. At least it's an inside chimney, so it'll radiate heat to the rooms.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,108
    @Steamhead

    Maybe they were short on draft so the pulled the baffles, or more likely they were too lazy to put them back in, but 420 stack isn't bad. With all the crap you sucked out of it the efficiency is much better than it was
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,614
    @STEVEusaPA @Steamhead
    As an end user I would never want my gas company servicing my boiler anymore than I want Exxon or BP servicing my car.

    Though, it seems like more often than not with oil equipment lack of service results with the boiler flat out not running more than it actually increases oil consumption. The average Joe will notice the heat isn't on much more than they will notice an increase in fuel usage and that's bad for the guys selling oil.




    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,174
    The gas company used to have the best techs because it was all they did and they went in to everyone's homes so they saw all the weird old stuff and knew how it worked.
    Charlie from wmass
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,004
    edited May 6
    ChrisJ said:

    @STEVEusaPA @Steamhead
    As an end user I would never want my gas company servicing my boiler anymore than I want Exxon or BP servicing my car...

    Not even my point, Exxon or BP aren't car dealerships...

    steve
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,614

    ChrisJ said:

    @STEVEusaPA @Steamhead
    As an end user I would never want my gas company servicing my boiler anymore than I want Exxon or BP servicing my car...

    Not even my point, Exxon or BP aren't car dealerships...

    Many gas stations do car repairs.
    I don't know how the franchising etc works but I wouldn't expect them to want my car to use the least amount of fuel possible.

    Car dealers do not sell fuel, but do want cars to use as little as possible.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    STEVEusaPA
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,021
    edited May 6
    I've had good experience with the oil companies maintaining the couple boilers I have owned. I feel like they want to keep things running well to minimize the number of service calls and unhappy customers they will have.

    One of my "pre-career" jobs was a photocopier tech for a company that sold photocopiers and service contracts. I think it is similar. We (the techs and the company both) definitely wanted to do good service work so that the customer was satisfied and to minimize return calls.

    If we did shoddy service work purposely in order to get the customer to replace an old copier, then they were likely to seek out a different company for their next one is the thinking I have about it. There were many cases where we techs would wish the customer would replace an old unit that was difficult to stock parts for and a pain to work on, but never did I see a tech do a worse repair job on it because of that.

    Finally, the service side and sales side were rather separate entities with their own management. Of course they were all on the same team but there was a separation. I assume oil companies might be similar.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,186
    Gas techs make oil burner techs look good. Gas company got out of service after too many lawsuits. I don't know who's to blame in the situation whether is the techs or their managers. I will say I have met a handful of people who are oil burner techs or former gas company techs who do excellent work. The rest are not fit to fetch tools. Those who have been poorly trained and do bad work because that's how they were taught I pity. But there are many out there do bad work and knoW better. Those people I feel should be benched from their given trade. 
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 541
    Amazing that we see the same old same ol. in 2021 as in the 60s qnd 70s.
    My brother may he rest in piece was a top notch oil burner service man working for some of biggest oil suppliers in Brooklyn N.Y.

    When he went out on service calls (people who paid for service contracts) and saw a boiler needed a clean up he tell the customer to request him only, He told the customer to say he always left the basement clean and the boiler working properly.

    His bosses were always pissed at him because he was taken away from what the boss called the important work. Why was this so, my brother fixed things, very rarely changed parts and that saved the company vasts amount of money.

    I as lic, Master plumber had my own customers and from time to time used my brother on commercial boiler clean ups.

    One job comes to memory, (my brother was lic. burner installer) on a Sunday in December one of my customers was sited for a smoke violation on 20 family house in the Bronx. called my brother and explained to him the situation and on his day off the both of us went to the job, inspected the boiler, called the landlord to come down to the site with cash $1000.00 and we will clean up his boiler.

    The landlord came down with the money and had a near a heart attack when he saw the boiler and te breaching. We told him we would not leave until the boiler was cleaned properly and tested for stack temp. CO and O2 with a report to be given to EPA.

    The job took 20 hours of dirty work and no go to work on Monday.
    Let me tell you it two weeks before the soot stains to my body was gone.

    What saved my brothers job was he brought an new customer to the company he was working for. 12 - 20
    family apartment houses.

    My brother for the next 10 years serviced that account and got a $5000.00 bonus for the first year and $1000.00 for next 9 years added to his normal Christmas bonuses' Eventually he became the lead service manager for all the commercial accounts.

    People that do excellent work usually are reworded in many different ways.

    Not bad for $500.00 Sunday for each of us.

    This was in 1975.

    What did I get for that day, I became the plumber of choice for that landlord association.

    Jake

    ratiokcoppmattmia2
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,514
    Well, I've said this before but it's worth repeating:
    Steamhead said:

    I think "the ones that do it right" are all posting on this board.

    @dopey27177 , do you remember what boiler and burner that was?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 541
    I am 80 years old and If my memory serves me, HB Smith CI sectional boiler with PF oil burner.
    I was a lucky guy, i had my brother to do the oil burner service when needed, tat was important to me because I knew enough about oil and gas burners to be dangerous.

    I never tried to do do oil burner controls and other oil burner work, I knew enough to call my brother to do
    what what he was lic. to do and he did it expertly.

    After he passed that was the end of commercial boiler work for me. I stuck to my expertise and made recommendations to my customers on what was needed and specifically told them to use lic. oil burner repair persons. I never recommended a specific contractor because I did not have control on who should be sent to the job to service or repair burners or repair or replace controls.
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