Oil-fired burners are used in many parts of the country as the basic heat source for warm air and hot water heating systems. Most of the home oil systems in use today are called pressure burners. In this type of system, oil is sprayed into a combustion chamber at high pressure, propelled by a blower, and ignited by an electric spark. The oil continues to burn as the mist is sprayed.

Most oil furnaces in use today are called pressure burners.
© 2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Most oil furnaces in use today are called pressure burners. In this type
of system, oil is sprayed into a combustion chamber at high pressure.

An oil furnace is a complex assembly. The maintenance and repair work for this type of furnace is limited to simple parts: the filters, the blower, the motor belts, the switches, and the thermostat. Electrodes, an oil nozzle, air tubes, a transformer, a pump, and other components require special tools and testing equipment and are best left to a professional for service.

To become familiar with your oil furnace, remove the access panel covering the burner blower by removing the retaining screws around the rim of the housing. You can access the air blower and filter through a metal panel on one side of the furnace. The panel is held by either hooks or retaining bolts; slip the panel up and off the hooks or remove the bolts and lift the panel off. Most furnaces have switches and reset buttons located on the motor or in a switch box outside the furnace housing. These are usually identified with stampings or labels, such as DISCONNECT SWITCH, RESET, and so on. The stack control sensor, a safety device that monitors burner operation, is positioned in the stack and held with a series of retaining bolts.


There's not much you can do to fix an oil furnace, but routine maintenance can forestall many problems. On the next page you'll find a list of tips to keep your furnace running smoothly.


For more articles on home repair, check out the following links.
  • Furnace Maintenance: Save yourself time and money by learning the steps to keep youor furnace in prime condition.
  • Major Appliance Repair: If the furnace isn't the only thing in your house on the fritz, you can learn how to fix other machines in this article.
  • Small Appliance Repair: Once you've tackled the furnace, a toaster or blender seems like child's play. Find out how to fix them here.
  • Thermostat Maintenance: To make sure there's actually a problem with your heating system, you may want to check the thermostat, too. Learn how to calibrate a thermostat.

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