A modern oil burner performs an incredibly important function within the heating system: it provides the energy that allows the rest of the system to operate. However, in order for the burner to ensure that the system run efficiently and reliably, it needs a good source of three main components: fuel, air, and heat. When an oil technician makes adjustments to the burner and these components are kept in the right balance for proper operation, an oil burner can continue to provide reliable, clean energy to the heating system.
When you're working with oil burners, it's important to know the role each of these three components — fuel, air, and heat — plays in the combustion cycle. In this post, we'll give an introduction to oil burners and the main resources they require to function in a reliable way.
3 Components of Reliable Oil Burner Operation
Fuel: Oil burners require a dependable source of oil, purchased by the consumer, in order to deliver energy to the rest of the heating system. This process is carried out by the fuel pump, which draws oil from the fuel supply system and delivers it to the burner's nozzle. The nozzle breaks up the oil into small droplets using a process called atomizing. This process readies the fuel for utilization as the burner vaporize the droplets and mix them with air.
Clean air: Without air, it's impossible for the burner to maintain a clean flame. The heating appliance draws air from the space it's installed in or from conduits that direct air to the burner. Inside, the burner pressurizes the air to rapidly oxidize the fuel, creating a flame then pushes the combustion gases through the heat exchanger to the exhaust venting system.
- Heat: Finally, heat it required for flame ignition. Ignition comes from the system's high voltage ignition source, which creates an arc that lights the atomized fuel as emitted from the burner nozzle. After ignition, if the burner and the appliance are well-matched, the flame continues as long as the burner can provide fuel and air. This is known as auto-ignition.
Periodic maintenance is absolutely key in order to ensure that an oil burner has the right balance of these three main components. A properly trained technician should regularly service the burner and other heating equipment to avoid malfunctions that can throw off the balance of the combustion cycle. For example, if the heat exchanger is not kept clean, gases won't be able to leave the appliance, creating a restriction to the flow of gas through the system. This will disrupt the balance of fuel, air, and heat that the burner needs to deliver energy.
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Oil Burner Safety
When an oil burner is installed so that it meets national codes and is properly maintained by a professional technician, the consumer can be assured of a safely operating system. However, there are some additional steps that should be taken in order to ensure the safety of all consumers using oil burners and oil heat. Aside from contacting a technician for regular system maintenance, consumers should be aware of how to detect an oil burner malfunction.
If the consumer notices unusual odors or staining around the heating appliance, the consumer should call a technician immediately for an inspection to ensure the system is operating correctly. As with any fuel burner — whether it uses oil or other gases or solids — there is a possibility that a malfunction could cause the emission of harmful gases. Every building using an oil burner should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed to alert occupants in the unlikely event of a harmful gas leak.
A positive to note is that modern oil burners and modern fuels provide energy while protecting consumers from greenhouse gases. When modern oil is used in a properly set up oil burner, the burner has the potential to operate cleaner than competitive fuels.
Problems and concerns with oil burners can be easily avoided with regular maintenance and service. By keeping the area around the appliance clean, purchasing fuel from a reliable source, and having the equipment serviced by a properly trained technician, consumers can be assured that their system will operate safely as well as provide reliable heat with all the necessary components in balance.