A basic oil-fired, forced-air (furnace) heating system consists of a burner fed by heating oil from a storage tank firing into a combustion chamber in the furnace. The combustion gases pass through the furnace where they give up heat across a heat exchanger. They are then exhausted to the outside through a flue pipe and chimney. For most systems, a barometric damper, acting as a mixing valve in the flue pipe, downstream of the furnace proper, isolates the burner from changes in pressure at the chimney exit by pulling varying quantities of heated room air into the exhaust. A circulating fan passes cool house air from the cold air return ducts over the furnace heat exchanger, where it is warmed up, then moved into the hot air ducts which distribute the heated air throughout the house.
This type of system is only as efficient as the homeowner keeps it, regular maintenance is a must. Contained in this system are a few things that should be changed annually such as:
- Oil Nozzles – The nozzle itself is part of a larger assembly that controls the amount and pattern of the oil delivered for combustion. We recommend changing this nozzle at least once a year to avoid any potential issues with the system during heating season.
- Oil Filters – Each system should have an oil line filter placed in line between the oil tank and the oil burner. This filter is meant to pick up sediment from the oil but can also help to trap moisture from your tank before it gets to the furnace. We recommend this be changed at least once a year.
- Air Filter – As with any system an oil furnace also contains and air filter. Like a filter on any other system it filters the air flowing through the system and should be replaced every 3 months.
- Stack/Exhaust – As part of the combustion process, oil when used produces soot. This soot can collect inside the exhaust vent (stack) and cause blockages and premature deterioration of the stack. Evidence of this is rust or corrosion on the exhaust vent pipe itself. To prolong the life of the system and the vent we recommend having this cleaned (by means of a soot vacuum) annually.
These steps are all part of our regular maintenance package and are extremely important to the lifespan of the system and the safety of your home.