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Oil Burner Efficiency
I have an older Burnham oil furnace that I recently had cleaned and serviced. It is running ok but only 75% efficiency. I cannot justify a new one @80% efficiency, since it will cost about $7000 and I will only get about $1000 annual savings in oil (10% of current heating bill). My contractor tried putting in a smaller nozzle to reduce stack temp (650 degrees). Although temp did go down 50 degrees the flue gas CO went down, and efficiency actually decreased. He suggested replacing the burner only may allow for more adjustment and higher efficiency. This would cost about $1000. Is this a good idea?
Also can you change the heat exchanger for better heat transfer to the water going to the baseboards?
Posts: 2 | Registered: 29 July 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Burnaham boiler you now have most likely has a Beckett burner on it. Updating this may help a little but like upgrading to a new boiler the payback may not be the wise way of going.

Using a smaller tip on the boiler may be a good idea for summer use for the hot water to the taps but not a good idea during the winter.
The boiler must have the proper size tip as suggested by the manufacture of the boiler to acheive the necessary output of the system when the weather turns cold.

You may want to check to see if the fire box is in good shape. This important device oftentimes begins to fail which will effect the efficency output of the boiler. The ideal condition should be white and clean.
Its job does more then just protect the casting of the boiler. AS soon as the boiler starts up it produces radient heat back towards the flame causing the vapor mist that is created by the nozzle to evaporate quicker thus raising the efficency of the boiler. Liquid oil does not burn, its the vapor as its it evavaporates. If this is in poor shape which most older ones are, there is no way they can get 70& out of the system. As boilers get older a little oil that gets on the surface of this box each time the burner starts soaks in and burns, while it does this it begins to turn the surface black, this in turn lowers the radiant heat it delivers thus lowering the effiecency and ability of the surface to aid in evaporation of the oil droplets a very slight amount each time the boiler starts. Over many years it looses more and more efficency and lowers the output of the boiler.

Many things effect the efficency of the boiler output. How clean it is, the draft setting, the type of nozzle being round, solid or semi-solid pattern, the condition of the fire box, the water delivery thru the boiler or air supply if its a furnace as its picking up the heat.

Even if the contractor puts in a new burner, its efficency will be effected by the fire-box condition.
I suggest that this be checked by an independent company that does not sell oil to you. Which I am assuming the fellow your using does. If the guy your using says a new burner MAY provide more adjustment and higher efficency my advice is to get someone else.

AS far as increasing the efficency of the heat exchanger for more efficency no.
Just be sure the radiatitors are clean and not blocked. and that all air is out of the system so its delivered to heating elements.
Flushing the water to get rid of gunk in the pipes if there is any at all may help but again not worth the cost for the increased savings if any at all. If its a furnace keep the filters and blower motor clean for proper air delivery.
Posts: 1933 | Location: New Jersey | Registered: 31 January 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have a Utica Boiler with a Beckett burner and I can tell you that I will never replace it, opting to replace parts instead. Keep this in mind, unless you formally heat the space in which the boiler resides (meaning baseboard), which is typically a laundry-room/spare utility room area, going to a newer and higher-efficiency unit will result in a colder room. There's something to be gained by that "inefficiency" which cannot be duplicated with today's higher-efficiency models.
Posts: 84 | Location: NW New Jersey | Registered: 13 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for your input. I think I will keep what I have for a while. I guess there is some truth to the saying, "if it aint broken, don't fix it".
Posts: 2 | Registered: 29 July 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I just finished servicing our house's Burnham V-17 (installed new in 1985). Just prior to this servicing, I was getting about 76% efficiency with a Carlin 101CRD burner. If I recall correctly, 10-11% CO2 and 600 degrees F stack temperature.

First, I serviced the oil side-

I Flushed the oil line from the tank to the burner using a drill pump (wow, how's the sludge?) Next, I replaced ther filter, the oil pump screen and the nozzle. I thought I was being smart and derating the nozzle to a 1.50 gallons/hour, 60 degree, solid spray pattern from the standard 1.75GPH, 60 degree solid spray nozzle specified... but found that the last service tech had put a 1.35 GPH nozzle in it already! The Burnham book shows that for a Carlin 101CRD, running the recomended nozzle (1.75 GPH) the distance between the flame retention ring and the throttle plate should be 3/8"... however with a 1.35GPH it should be 1/4", and they never fixed mine, which is why I had to service the unit.

So... ANYWAYS... after doing the oil side and cleaning up, the next day was the "fun part", brushing the heat exchanger surfaces. I spent a whole day doing this... and now have blisters on my hands from my "enthusiasm for thoroughness" with the flue brushes.

I know I am boring you with the details, but here is the point I need to make. When the field service guy from the oil company comes out, to "clean and service" your furnace, THEY WILL NOT DO THIS WORK.

A high stack temperature comes from one thing, soot on the heat exchanger surfaces, and the ONLY way to lower your stack temperature and get better a better efficiency is to clean out this soot. Trust me, mine was FILTHY (I just moved in and it hasn't been done in the 10 years my friend has lived here).

Have a service tech clean the boiler/water heater with a steel flue brush. If they refuse, terminate your oil contract with this outfit and find a reputable one.

My stack temperature runs around 350-400 degrees now, with 11.4% CO2... the sliderule with my analyzer kit shows roughly 84% efficency.

My friend who lived here last year, went through 1200 gallons of fuel oil last year (so he says)... going from 76% to 84% efficency will be fairly significant, especially since he purchaced a huge pellet stove and 7 tons of wood pellets, so the demand on the oil burner will be less.

I get to install the pellet stove next (yay!).

I hope you get this... I see your original post is over a month old. Any questions shoot me a message here.

Posts: 1 | Registered: 06 September 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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One more thing...... 3000 ft X .70 is $2100.00. To fill a 275 gallon diesel tank is $1375.00. A tank and a half of diesel fuel and you break even. I would seriously consider spending the money and eliminate future worries. If you fill the tank with oil, they want a check right now. If you use NG, you can get on the level pay plan and average the cost out over the year. Much easier to deal with. They would probably even let you pay the installation over time. I would try to get them to at least share the cost of installation.
I know finding extra money when you just purchased a home is tough, but think of the big picture and future ease and convience.
I know, decisions, decisions..... Good luck..
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Posts: 1 | Registered: 18 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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