How To Troubleshoot Fuel Supply Issues With Your Oil Boiler

Oil boilers can seem temperamental at times, and this is one reason why it is important to work with a heating contractor who can complete general maintenance every year before the heating season begins. Even if maintenance is performed though, you may still run into some smaller problems throughout the winter that leave you without heat. Oil supply problems are often the culprit if your oil boiler suddenly will not run. If you are experiencing this issue, then keep reading to learn about the things you can do to swiftly correct the problem.

Measure Oil In Your Tank

Understanding The Tank Gauge

Most home heating oil tanks are large enough to hold several hundred gallons of oil. A gauge will sit on top of the oil tank to tell you how much oil is contained inside. The gauge works with the assistance of a bobber that floats on top of the oil. As the fuel level drops, the bobber drops and pulls down on a metal pole that is attached to the gauge. As the bobber and the pole drop, the gauge also lowers. Unfortunately, the gauge relies on the movement of the metal pole that can stick in place. When this happens, the bobber is held up several inches or more above the oil level and this produces an inaccurate reading.

Taking Your Measurements

If you have not scheduled an oil delivery in some time and the weather has turned frigid enough to cause your boiler to run more often than normal, then it is possible that the oil gauge is stuck and you have run out of oil. To see if this is the case, twist off the plastic cover from the top of the tank gauge and use your finger to push the gauge down to unstick the bobber and pole. If the bobber does not move and you think that the gauge is not accurate, then you will need to measure the contents of the tank manually. You can do this by removing the cap on the tank and placing a yardstick straight down into it. Remove the stick and look at the wet spot on the bottom of it. Measure the spot and use this formula to calculate home many gallons of oil are left in the tank.

As you figure out the number of gallons in the tank, you will also need to make sure that the oil level is above the height of the line opening or spigot on the side of the tank. Place the yardstick next to the spigot making sure it is parallel with the bottom of the tank. If the wet mark on the stick sits below the spigot, then the small amount of oil left in the tank cannot reach the opening. This means an oil delivery is needed. Use your calculation and the size of your tank to figure out how much oil you need to fill it.

Clean The Filter

Your oil boiler will have what is called an inline filter that removes dirt, rust, and gel from your oil before it enters the boiler. While this filter typically only needs to be replaced once a year during your maintenance check, the filter may need to be cleaned off on occasion. If you run out of oil occasionally or run your boiler immediately after the oil tank is filled, then it is likely that the filter is clogged with debris that has been kicked up from the bottom of your oil tank.

To remove the debris from the filer, place a small amount of heating oil or kerosene in a bucket. Use a socket wrench to remove the bolt from the top of the filter casing and gently pull off the cap and remove the filter. Use a clean rag to remove debris from the outside of the filter and then place the filter in the bucket. Move the filter around in the fluid to rinse the dirt stuck inside of it. Use a rag to wipe the inside of the filter casing, replace the filter, secure the cap, and tighten the bolt back in place. 

For professional assistance, contact companies like Controlled Comfort.