How to Troubleshoot a Rumbling Oil Heater

If you have an oil boiler heating system and notice the furnace starting to rumble as it turns on, then your furnace is not receiving the fuel it needs to fire properly. When this problem develops, then there is a good chance that your heater will stop running. Thankfully, the issue can be addressed and resolved with the following tips.

Add Kerosene Fuel or an Additive

Most people will place a specific type of heating fuel in their oil tanks called no. 2 heating oil. If you purchase the oil from an oil delivery business, then you may receive a winter mix that contains an additive that stops the oil from gelling or freezing. This is often enough to keep the oil flowing freely to your boiler. 

If you have decided to save yourself some money by placing diesel fuel in your oil tank, then gelling may be a concern. While diesel fuel is identical to home heating oil, it will not contain an additive that stops it from thickening in the cold weather. If temperatures have started to drop recently to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit or below, then this is likely the issue. 

There are several things you can do to keep your fuel line from completely clogging. You can add some kerosene fuel to the tank, since kerosene has a much lower freezing point than diesel fuel. A mixture of about one-third or one-half kerosene to two-thirds or one-half diesel will work well. Look at the gauge on your fuel tank to estimate the amount of fuel that is already in the tank to determine how much kerosene to purchase. For example, if you have a 100 gallon tank that is about 50% full, then you can add about 25 gallons of kerosene to see if this helps your heater run more smoothly. 

If you already have some kerosene in the tank or if you have purchased No. 2 heating oil, then try adding an anti-gel additive to the tank. You can use a diesel fuel variety made for commercial trucks or you can purchase a product made specifically for heating systems. Keep in mind that commercial additives are typically cheaper and larger than the ones made for heating systems. When adding the fluid, just look at the bottle to see how much you need for your fuel tank. If you have a great deal of fuel in the tank or if you feel as though the gelling issue is serious, then you can add the entire container of the additive to the tank. It will do no harm if you add too much of it. 

Look for Tank Leaks

Sometimes a rumbling heating system will be caused by a lack of fuel moving through the fuel line. If gelling issues have been addressed, then the issue is probably an abundance of air or water entering the system. Air enters the system through small holes in the fuel line or in areas where the fuel line is loose or not connected properly. Inspect the line by looking at areas where it connects to the fuel tank, filter, or the fuel pump. Also, if the bleeder valve connected to the bottom of the fuel pump is loose, then air can mix with the fuel. 

Inspect all the areas where the fuel line is connected and look for wet spots on the ground. You can also use a crescent wrench to tighten the nuts connected to the line in these areas. 

When checking for leaks, also look closely at your fuel tank. A leak in the tank may be allowing water to enter the tank and mix with your fuel. Check to make sure the fuel cap is tight and the fuel gauge is not cracked or loose. Also, you want to make sure that all snow is removed from the top of the tank. Snow can melt and slowly enter the tank around the threads of the fuel cap. 

To learn more tips or to get further assistance, contact companies like Apollo Heating & Air Conditioning.


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