Oil heating presents a special set of challenges and unique heating repair problems. Some of these challenges and problems can be fixed in the typical ways, but not all homeowners can do that. Before you call an HVAC specialist, you could try a few unusual but effective approaches to clearing blockages in the oil heating line. (Just make sure your oil heating furnace is shut all the way off first!)
Cleaning the Intake Valves
As oil travels from the outdoor tank inside to the line that feeds the furnace, the line gets smaller and smaller. While the purpose for that is clear (i.e., it prevents too much oil from flooding the furnace all at once), the particulates and impurities that remain in the heating oil can get stuck. Then the particulates and impurities begin to build up, similar to the way fat plaques block up arteries in the human body. If you go out and buy yourself a bag of premium pipe cleaners, you can fix this issue, no problem.
Just follow these simple steps:
- Match the size of the oil intake valves to the size of the pipe cleaners.
- Insert the pipe cleaner as far as it will go, without dropping the pipe cleaner inside the line or the intake valve.
- Pull out the pipe cleaner and check it for residue.
- If the pipe cleaner comes out with thick, pasty sediments on it, repeat the process until the pipe cleaner only retreats with the viscous oil on the end of it.
Make sure you get high-quality pipe cleaners, too. Do not opt for flimsy ones where the fibers are falling off/out of the wire body every time you run your hands over them. These lesser-quality pipe cleaners can leave fibers inside the line and the valve, and then it is no better than if you had left the these components dirty and clogged in the first place.
Suction or Pressure
If pipe cleaners will not work for your system because of its shape and design, or you are just too worried that the pipe cleaner fibers will get stuck, try suction or pressure.
If you use suction to clean out the line:
- Turn the oil valve off on the tank so that you are not trying to manually pump things via suction.
- Use a small industrial vacuum tool that has twice the suction of the best house vacuum you can buy.
- Place the suction end close to the exposed end of the fuel line.
- Turn on the suction and wait for globs of hard, resin-y material to exist the line. Then it is done.
If you use pressure instead:
- Apply the pressure to the end of the exposed line, in the direction of the ignition component. This forces the blockages toward the flames that will burn up the blockages and help you use every last drop of fuel.
- Sharp, hard, short jolts of pressure helps. Do not detach the pressure from the line until you are certain the blockage is gone.
- Check after about five short jolts of pressure. Use a flashlight or an articulating borescope to see inside the line.
- If the blockage is through, the line is clear. If you can still see something stuck, repeat this process until you cannot see anything in the line but loose oil and long pipe.
All three of the above approaches are considered somewhat unconventional, but when you cannot get a repair technician out to your home, trying one of these is the next best thing. It is also important to have a clear fuel line, or your oil furnace will not function properly and may even rupture. For more information or assistance, contact companies like Advanced Heating & Cooling.