Kerosene and Diesel will Restart an Oil Burner

411 plumb This winter many people will probably experience either running low or running out of fuel oil. Many oil dealers have minimum deliveries of 100 gallons and many people in this economy may find them selves juggling money against a dwindling oil level in the tank while they hope for one more paycheck before filling the tank. Here are a few tips that may help you.

Oil burners will operate okay burning Kerosene or, Diesel fuel these fuels are available at many gas stations and are sold in small quantities. However the cost per gallon will be higher than the cost of fuel oil especially with Diesel fuel where you will be paying a road tax when you buy it.

A couple of five gallon cans can add a few more days without having to buy a full 100 gallon minimum delivery. It is always better to keep the burner from running out of oil.

When your oil burner runs out of oil the flame goes out and the burner briefly continues to run, but, there is a photo cell that detects the light of the burner flame. Without a burner flame detected the burner runs briefly on a timer then goes out on reset. This is a safety device designed to prevent the burner from filling the fire box with oil if the burner is not firing. This is a dangerous situation that can result in a fire or explosion.

The problem is that if you run out of oil there will be air in the line and in many cases the pump on the burner will not prime and pump oil to the burner for relighting, on pushing the reset alone. To bleed the air you first need to locate the bleeder screw on the pump located on the side of the burner. You will need a wrench to loosen the bleeder I prefer a box wrench to keep you from fumbling around with a wrench that slips off. Open the bleeder screw then close it gently. You will also need something to catch the oil that comes out of the bleeder. Sometimes the bleeder may be in a location where the oil cannot be caught easily. In these cases I slip a hose over the bleeder to direct the oil flow to a container without making a mess. Hit the reset and open the bleeder about ½ a turn while the burner is running. You will see a spitting flow as the air comes out, then a milky look as the fine bubbles mixed with fuel come out and then finally a nice clear liquid. At this point the air is out and you can close the bleeder. The burner should light as soon as you close the bleeder. If the burner goes out on reset while bleeding close the bleeder as soon as the burner shuts off, then wait a minute then hit the reset again and open the bleeder again until the air is out and close the bleeder.

This shows the approximate locations for the bleeder screw and reset button on a oil burner.

This shows the approximate locations for the bleeder screw and reset button on a oil burner.

Hopefully you don’t need these tips but if you are pushing the limits of your oil supply keep it in mind that carefully monitoring the level of fuel and a trip to the gas station for a 5 gallon can or two can keep you warm and not let you run out of fuel oil, so you can avoid the bleeding procedure.