Because it is automatic, the oil burner is often neglected until the day when it suddenly fails to deliver any heat. Failure of the burner can often be prevented by having it checked at the beginning of the heating season by an oil burner expert. Arrange to have him come and examine your equipment before it is turned on.
The best time is late in the summer, before everyone else is trying to do the same thing. If you are in doubt as to qualified experts in your community, write to the company that manufactures your oil burner and ask them to name someone in your locality who is familiar with the equipment and can do a satisfactory job.
If the oil burner is put in proper condition by an experienced and well-trained man at the beginning of the season, you should have satisfactory service throughout the entire winter.
A modern oil burner is a very complex piece of machinery and it is not recommended that the home mechanic try to make any repairs unless he is very familiar with the equipment. A good plan is to have a serviceman explain how to make any adjustments that might be needed, and what steps to take at the end of the season for turning off the burner and preparing it for the summer.
The type of fuel used in the burner will have much to do with how efficiently it operates. Find out what type of fuel the burner requires, either from the manufacturer or from the serviceman, and use it rather than a cheaper and inferior grade.
A properly adjusted oil burner should not smoke at all, except when it first starts, and then for only a short period. This is because the fire box is cold and complete combustion is not taking place. If smoking continues, it is probably due to the fact that the burner is out of adjustment or that a low-grade fuel is being burned. Smoking means that fuel is being wasted.
Kerosene oil heaters
One of the most widely used small oil heaters is the vaporizing kind known as the blue flame heater. The main portion of the burner consists of a wick at the base of two or more perforated cylinders. This type oil heater is used extensively for hot water systems, kitchen ranges, and space heaters. It produces a considerable amount of heat for its size and requires little maintenance besides cleaning and keeping the fuel tank full.
Most of these heaters are equipped with small fuel tanks, but they can be connected with larger tanks on the outside of the house, thus limiting the need for daily filling. Adjustment of the flame is done manually.
When one of these heaters is used constantly, it is wise to shut it down every few months and give it a good cleaning.
Remove all the carbon from around the burner with a brush, clean out any foreign matter and inspect the condition of the wick. In all probability it will need replacing and you will do well to take the old wick down to your heating or hardware store when you purchase new ones so as to be absolutely certain of getting the right size and shape.
Oil burning space heaters of the blue flame kind can be had in many sizes, from small portable ones that require no chimney or flue to large units which require a flue and are capable of keeping many rooms comfortable. If a chimney or flue is required, it is important that it meet with the manufacturer's specifications.
As all these heaters are of the gravity feed type, they must sit levelly if they are to operate properly. The kind and grade of fuel used is important from the standpoint of efficient operation. Most manufacturers recommend kerosene, a good grade range oil, or No. 1 distillate. The heater should have a separate flue if other heating mechanisms use the chimney. This flue should be free of sharp angles.