8 Reasons Your Waste Oil Burner Won’t Light

Here at the shop at #USFiltermaxx we built a #wasteoilheater using an old 100 lb. propane cylinder.  (You tube video on construction coming soon to the USFiltermaxx You Tube Channel)!

After it was constructed, the trials and errors began.  I am going to share these nuggets of information with you because these #wasteoilheaters rock and #youneedthis for winter!

They are surprisingly trouble-free once you get the learning curve down on how to operate them.  So….why won’t it light?                    505

  1.  Your design is flawed.  We have encountered customers who have created an exhaust that is too restrictive which in turn created too much back pressure inside the heater.  The safety features will not let the burner light because it does not want you to heat your house or shop with a potential bomb.  This is easily corrected by enlarging the exhaust, making sure it is vented properly to the outside.
  2. Too much light.  Once again, this is customer design flaw.  There is an electric eye in the flame gun and if it detects light prior to starting up, the unit will not ignite.  This is another safety feature to prevent fires.  Sooooo you cannot test the burner in broad daylight (or even in dim daylight) without the gun portion being completely enclosed to keep the eye dark.  Also make sure your exhaust is at the far end of your heater, away from the gun so no light creeps in.532

4″ exhaust at far end of tank.

3.  Your oil is too dirty.  I must say I am truly amazed at what these heaters will burn.  We put some really disgusting, dirty, nasty oil in ours.  It even had some antifreeze in it, yet it fired right up and burned flawlessly for hours; however, it does have its limits.  If your oil is too dirty the siphon pick-up tube that feeds the flame will become clogged.  No fuel, no ignition. This is corrected by filtering, centrifuging  (see what gets removed from waste motor oil hereor, at the very least, settling your oil for at least 10 days prior to use. Don’t draw your oil from the bottom of the tank where  all the dirt and water settles. Take it at least 4 to 6 inches inches up from the bottom of the tank. Higher is better. Should your intake tube or screen become clogged you can spray carburetor cleaner into it to clear it when the burner is off and cooled.wasteoilheater, clean tank

Clean tank with oil filter screen in place.

sludge, oilburner

Screen removed to reveal sludge clogging siphon tube.

4.  Your air pressure is too high or too low.  I just couldn’t understand it.  My fuel was good.  Igniter was fine.  Design (of course) perfect.  Air was flowing.  No ignition.  Although these waste oil burners do come with their own air pump if you want it, we had hooked up the shop air hose to it.  Turned out the pressure was too high and we were just blowing out the flame before it could catch.  Conversely, if your air pressure is too low you will not get ignition either.  This is corrected by having your air pressure at about 5 to 7 PSI (for this particular model).

5.  There is too much water in your oil.  Oil burns great.  Water, not so much.  Your first clue will be bubbles and steam rising out of the reservoir tank. Your next clue will be the oil/water boiling over the top of the tank and spilling onto the ground.  Finally, it just won’t light.  Just as with dirty oil, this is corrected by centrifuging or settling the oil prior to use for a great start up and a clean burn.

6.  Your fuel is not hot enough.  There is a dial on the outside of the oil reservoir tank to adjust the oil temperature.  The oil should be between 100 and  120 degrees Celsius (248F) to ignite.  Simply increasing the temperature of the oil solves many lighting issues, especially on colder days.burner dials.jpg

White air pressure gauge center.  Black temperature adjustment dial right.

7.  Coking of the nozzle.  The heat from the furnace can cause the oil to produce carbon or “coke” which can clog the nozzle.  Particles in dirty oil can also clog the nozzle.  Preventative maintenance is much easier to affect than a post flame-out fix.   A weekly check of the nozzle when the heater is off and cool will will assure its open and unobstructed.wasteoilburner on stand. Nozzle.

Close up of nozzle

8.  Insufficient fuel supply.  Always make sure there is enough oil to sustain your burn.  If the oil pump runs dry the pump will seize, the coupler will melt or burn up the motor.

There are 138,000 BTUs in one gallon of oil and this furnace will burn about 3/4 gal of oil in an hour for every 100,000 BTUs.  This 200,000 BTU oil burner requires 1.5 gallons of oil for every hour of run time.

We at US Filtermaxx hope these troubleshooting tips will help you stay warm this winter!


4 thoughts on “8 Reasons Your Waste Oil Burner Won’t Light

  1. I have the same burner,its bubbling over and you confirmed it is water in the oil, I thought it might have been air so thanks for that as it can be very serious as the float gets swamped and then drops like a stone so the oil just keeps on flowing…. nasty if your burner is in the roof and you have no return line to the tank.
    Car engine oil works fine at 80 to 90c veg oil needs hotter.100 to 110c

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan,
      Glad to help. I would certainly get a tank return line. It is very important. If the float or relay ever sticks you will be swimming in oil.
      Antifreeze holds water and dissolves in oil and you can’t tell it’s in there. It’s hard to get it out without a centrifuge. I would look for a better source of oil.
      Thank you for your input! We always appreciate comments and good information!


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