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Oil Boiler Problems: Three Common Issues

boiler troubleshooting massachusetts

Oil-fired boilers are one of the best heating solutions for a New England home – efficient, powerful, and reliable. But that doesn’t mean they’re immune to problems: like any piece of heating equipment, a boiler will eventually develop issues that could leave you in the cold.

Boiler Basics

Of course, knowing what could go wrong with a boiler starts with understanding how it works. Here are the basics:

  • A boiler-based heating system consists of a burner, a fuel tank, a network of pipes, and either radiators or baseboards.
  • The burner draws fuel from the tank; once the burner reaches a target temperature, it transfers heat to a volume of water inside the boiler.
  • Once the water is hot enough, the boiler circulates it through the pipes to the radiators and baseboards in your living space.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Sounds simple, right? Usually it is. But here are three things that could go wrong along the way – and what to do if they happen:

  1. Your boiler doesn’t start –  If your boiler won’t start, the first thing you should check is your oil tank: you may have run out of fuel and not realized it. If that’s the case, schedule an emergency oil delivery right away. It is also possible that operating the boiler has tripped the circuit breaker: try resetting the breaker, then hit the reset button on your boiler to re-start it. If the boiler still doesn’t start, contact us for service – you could have a blown motor on your burner assembly.
  2. Your boiler starts but doesn’t produce heat – If your boiler powers up but doesn’t produce heat, it’s probably because fuel isn’t getting into the burner; a clogged burner nozzle may be to blame. A burner nozzle’s tiny opening is prone to getting clogged with mineral deposits, dirt, or sludge (old, degraded oil that’s been sitting on the bottom of your tank). Replacing the burner nozzle may fix the problem, but that’s a job for professionals to handle. Avoid problems like this by keeping your oil tank at least one quarter full at all times, and by getting routine maintenance for your oil-burning equipment every year.
  3. Your boiler produces smoke or soot – This could be a serious issue, as it often indicates a clogged flue pipe or a cracked heat exchanger. If there is any obvious dirt or debris clogging the flue pipe, remove it, and check for any obvious worn gaskets or cracks. Left untreated, a cracked heat exchanger or clogged fuel pipe could cause a build-up of carbon monoxide in your home, which can be dangerous or even deadly to your family. If you see smoke or soot coming from your boiler, contact us right away for an emergency heating repair.

Having problems with your boiler? We can help! Our heating experts can diagnose boiler problems and make quality boiler repairs as needed. If we can’t fix your equipment, we offer COMPLETE boiler installations in Middlesex and Norfolk Counties, MA, along with boiler maintenance to keep your equipment running smoothly for years to come.

Contact Needham Oil Complete Heating and Cooling today to learn more, or to get a free estimate on a high efficiency boiler today!