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Old 05-21-2010, 11:40 PM   #1
shamrock12
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Default Running new fuel line for oil burner

In the past year I have been having problems with the oil burner ignition box tripping. It started in the spring of '09 and continues through the summer (for domestic hot water) then by winter, after numberous service calls, the problem went away for good, only until this spring when it started acting up again. In almost every visit, the tech found fuel pressure fluncturing so they blew the fuel line from the tank & installed new nozzle and it worked ok for awhile. We suspect that it might be from sludge settling on bottom of tank during off-season and thus clogging up the fuel line.

Currently I have 3/8" copper tubing running up vertically to the ceiling from the tank (8 feet rise) running along the joists then drops back down to the burner. I suspect that would allow sludge to plug up somewhere along the bottom of vertical run near the tank. So I asked the tech if running a line along the floor would help reduce the clog, and he said yes. He also suggest running 1/2" tubing to increase the flow.

Would that help solve the tripping problem, due to lack of adequate fuel supply? Only problem I see is that the boiler is in middle of full basement space, and the tank is at the corner, so I would need some kind of sleeve that would protect the tubing and at the same time not so easy to trip over. Do you know exactly what they are called? I tried looking for them on the internet but came up empty. I have a workshop in there so I would be walking in the area quite frequently. Also would running black iron pipe be better advised than copper tubing on the floor? I realized that this forum is for garage related stuff but I am sure some of you have shops with similar oil fired burner setups.
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Old 05-22-2010, 07:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Is there a filter in line at the tank, before the vertical rise? If the filter is clean and you are starving for fuel, eliminating the vertical rise will probably work. There shouldn't be any need for a 1/2" line to increase flow since the furnace can get more than it could possibly ever burn per hour from a 3/8" line. I would run 3/8" temporarily on the floor and if it works I would cut a
1"+ notch in the floor and run a 1/2" PVC conduit with sweep 90* bends on each end. Patch the floor and run the 3/8" copper inside the conduit. This would eliminate any tripping hazard and still provide a way to replace the line if there was ever any problems. Or just do like you said and step over it forever...........
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Old 05-22-2010, 07:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Around here, (MA) The fuel lines were always run in a notch in the floor. The line was fed through a piece of 3/8 MC and that protected it. Then, I think due to a code change, the lines were run in blue "Carlon" plastic flex conduit on the surface and typically followed the wall from the tank to the burner. I have seen plenty of set ups where the line is run vertically and then back down to the burner. I think that if your filter is clean, the chances of a sludge build up in the line are nil. As posted a 3/8 line can flow enough oil for any burner so the 1/2" solution is a waste of time.

How old is the burner? Is the screen on the pump clean? Are the connections totally leak proof? If oil can leak out, air can get in and your pump will lose it's prime and that's a problem with the lines run vertically since you do not have the advantage of gravity in feeding the pump.

If the line is clean, I would suspect that something is causing the pump to lose its' prime. Get someone beside the tech who told you to install a bigger line and figure out what is really going on before you start changing parts.
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Old 05-22-2010, 08:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

I'd try to find a way to eliminate the vertical rise.
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Old 05-22-2010, 10:38 AM   #5
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Either that or some kind of booster pump. I'm not a furnace pro, but I don't think the little pumps in them are made to pump an 8 or 9 ft rise.
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Old 05-22-2010, 11:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

There is a filter right next to the burner head. Should I move it to the tank end? I am thinking that doing so would help keep the line from clogging up. I thought that 1/2" is overkill too but I ain't a boiler pro either. I also wondered how difficult it would be for the small pump to suck fuel up a long vertical run too. It look like I will be yanking the line off the joists and run it along the floor.

But I have a concrete floor so how do I cut the notch cleanly without breaking them up in large chunks? Cut-off saw?
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Old 05-22-2010, 02:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

The filter is generally on the tank here in Maine. And I wouldn't bury any line under concrete unless its sleeved in PVC or maybe the coated copper( its yellow coating made right on the copper tubing). A leak that you don't notice can cost alot of money to clean up
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Email a guy named John at johngriffin@tampabay.rr.com with this question he can give you the correct answer. I been around the fuel buisness since 1976 and all the installs we did we always put the filter at the tank and then you could also put one at the burner and a 8 -9 foot head should not be a problem IMO.
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Old 05-23-2010, 04:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

1. There should be a filter at the tank (as mentioned).

2. Also check for 'algae' and other bad stuff growing in the fuel. This is a problem sometimes for fuel that is stored for a long time. There are chemicals that will kill it but the filter is needed to catch the 'dead' stuff.
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:14 PM   #10
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

I just did some work out at my parents house. They have a similar setup as you except the tank is against the wall and the burner is in the middle of the basement.

It has the copper line running out of the tank straight down to the floor and then across the floor to the burner. The line sits on top of the concrete with no sleeve or anything. It doesn't even follow the wall, just a straight line from the tank to the burner.

I tried like crazy to keep from tripping or stepping on it but I must have done both about a dozen times. It's been like that for a couple of decades and no problems.

I can't really speak for what to do with the vertical rise but I would HIGHLY suggest putting the line in some sort of protected groove or pipe as others here have mentioned. I had visions of breaking that pipe and having oil going everywhere.
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Old 05-23-2010, 11:27 PM   #11
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

My Dad trenched the line in their basement in 1983, just used soft copper, put the line in and concrete over it. Still fine today. I'm sure it would have been broken long ago if it was laying on the floor since that end of the basement has the wood furnace as well... (wood being chucked over there, split, etc)
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:58 AM   #12
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Quote:
Originally Posted by nate379 View Post
My Dad trenched the line in their basement in 1983, just used soft copper, put the line in and concrete over it. Still fine today. I'm sure it would have been broken long ago if it was laying on the floor since that end of the basement has the wood furnace as well... (wood being chucked over there, split, etc)
I'm pretty sure its illegal in the state of Maine, to bury unprotected copper line, no grandfather either. If it leaks he's in a world of hurt

Found a link
http://www.mainerealtors.com/Documen...oil%20regs.htm

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Old 05-24-2010, 01:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Hmm, will have to let him know, but I can pretty much guarantee he won't mess with it.

As you start getting older I think you start giving up on stuff like that.
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Old 05-24-2010, 03:25 PM   #14
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Get a new tech first.

But as far as what to sleeve a line with I've seen a lot of people are starting to use pex tubing.
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Old 05-24-2010, 04:13 PM   #15
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Email a guy named John at johngriffin@tampabay.rr.com with this question he can give you the correct answer. I been around the fuel buisness since 1976 and all the installs we did we always put the filter at the tank and then you could also put one at the burner and a 8 -9 foot head should not be a problem IMO. sorry I had wrong email address! on first reply
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:24 PM   #16
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

If you have a sludge problem, has the fuel screen in the pump been check/cleaned. I have seen burners that light fine, then after a few minutes the pump pressure either fluctuates or starts dropping off. Usually they have dirty pump screens. Another reason for fluctuating pump pressures is air being sucked into the lines do to a leak. Usually the leak is at the oil filter, but could be any fitting. An oil pump should have no problem pulling up a 8' lift, however if the filter is prone to leaking air, it will more with higher lift because it is sucking harder. As mentioned above, if you are changing lines, go with 1/2". Filter location, either at the tank, or at the furnace makes no different. As for the unit sucking sludge, it should not, as your pickup should be at least 6" off the bottom of the tank. If it isn't, change it. If you have that much sludge, it is time to have that one cleaned, or install a new tank.
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:12 PM   #17
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

DK, even though you're from Bob Drake country, I gotta disagree with some of your points. You're right about the pump screen and the leaks. I think I mentioned those things in my first post. You're also correct about the pump "pulling" the 8 foot head. In reality. once the pump is primed, you have a siphon advantage as well as long as the oil level in the tank is above the inlet to the burner which can often be set up that way when the tank is installed. It may be a regional thing but I have never seen a residential 275 or 330 gallon indoor storage tank with the outlet anywhere but dead bottom. The reason for that is that condensation in the tank will also exit the tank and stay trapped in the filter canister which is below the bottom of the tank. In fact the tank manufacturers have a sticker on the tank saying that the tank must be pitched toward the outlet so that sediment and condensation will clear the tank and get caught in the filter. That leads me to the next point, the location of the filter...If the tank is of the type I am familiar with (outlet right at the bottom) and it is correctly pitched, locating the filter at the burner itself is setting you up for all kinds of crap in the line itself.
The filter needs to be at the tank to form a reservoir for condensation and sediment that is below the level of the bottom of the tank and locating the filter at the tank not only ensures clean oil, but clean oil in the supply line to the burner. Lastly, I have been working on heating systems, plumbing and general remodeling for over 40 years and have never seen or heard of an oil line bigger than 3/8 inch in a residential application. A large residential boiler seldom fires over 2 GPH and a 3/8 line can flow about 20 times that. Please let me know where you have seen the oil tanks with the outlet positioned 6 inches above the bottom of the tank.
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Old 06-02-2010, 01:10 PM   #18
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

tcianci, here in Bob Drake country, most of our above ground tanks, and all in ground tanks have a fitting on the top of the tank for the fuel lines. The supply line is kept 6" off the bottom, the return line, if used, is only a few inches into the tank. As there is not a condensate issue here the bottom fitting is either plugged, or a valve can be installed for draining. Here in Oregon there are many tanks in the ground, so filters are installed at the furnace. However on outside tanks about 50 percent of the time the filter will be at the tank. I am sure that oil furnaces are not as near as common as where you live, and when needing replaced are usually replaced with a heat pump or gas furnace. You are right, residential furnaces should not require more than a 3/8 line. However some manufactures recommend a 1/2" line if the run is over a certain distance or a high lift. I have only been doing HVAC service for 28 years, so I haven't seen it all yet.
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Old 06-02-2010, 03:27 PM   #19
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dkramer View Post
tcianci, here in Bob Drake country, most of our above ground tanks, and all in ground tanks have a fitting on the top of the tank for the fuel lines. The supply line is kept 6" off the bottom, the return line, if used, is only a few inches into the tank. As there is not a condensate issue here the bottom fitting is either plugged, or a valve can be installed for draining. Here in Oregon there are many tanks in the ground, so filters are installed at the furnace. However on outside tanks about 50 percent of the time the filter will be at the tank. I am sure that oil furnaces are not as near as common as where you live, and when needing replaced are usually replaced with a heat pump or gas furnace. You are right, residential furnaces should not require more than a 3/8 line. However some manufactures recommend a 1/2" line if the run is over a certain distance or a high lift. I have only been doing HVAC service for 28 years, so I haven't seen it all yet.
In Maine you'd rarely see a duplex bushing in a 275 or any other aboveground 2oil tank. You might see it in an above ground skid tank(500 or 550) used in a commercial application. Most of our tanks have a fitting on one side of the tank about 1 inch up from the bottom,sometimes directly in the bottom, a firomatic valve(shuts in a fire) and then the filter.
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:53 PM   #20
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Default Re: Running new fuel line for oil burner

DK Thanks for the info on the tanks, As I thought it's a regional thing. Oil fired furnaces and boilers are extremely popular out here. The most common storage tank is a 275 and underground tanks have all but disappeared in these parts because of perceived environmental problems. Outdoor tanks are pretty uncommon as well except in the trailer parks where there is no basement or crawl space for a tank. Gas conversions are popular especially right now with NG prices costing less per therm than oil but believe it or not even some of the newer developments do not have NG. I have it on my street but not in the house. Originally I thought that the competition between oil dealers would keep prices in check as opposed to the gas company who was the only show in town and you did not have the option to shop the gas. My oil fired (Carlin gun and HB Smith) boiler is 32 years old now and considering the space I have given up in the basement of my house for storage, office and kid related junk, the space that the oil tank lives in is looking pretty valuable to me!
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