How To Clean and Replace Oil Furnace Filters

The oil filter should be changed or cleaned at the start of the heating season and about midway through the season. Here's how to clean or replace the filter:

Step 1: Close oil shutoff valve between fuel tank and filter.

Step 2: Unscrew bottom or cup of filter housing, and remove filter.

Step 3: If filter is disposable, insert new one of same size and type. If furnace has permanent filter, clean filter according to furnace manufacturer's recommendations.

Step 4: Replace old filter gaskets with new ones.

Step 5: Screw in bottom of housing, and open oil shutoff valve.

Clean the pump strainer after cleaning the oil filter.
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Clean the pump strainer after cleaning the oil filter. To reach the strainer,
unbolt the cover of the pump housing and lift off the cover.

Some oil furnaces have a pump strainer, which is located on the pump attached to the burner/ blower unit. Clean this strainer when you clean the oil filter. Here's how:

Step 1: Unbolt cover of pump housing (where oil line enters burner), and lift off cover.

Step 2: Remove thin gasket around rim. Find and remove strainer, which is a cylindrical or cup-shape wire mesh screen.

What You'll Need
You'll want to have these tools on hand to clean the pump strainer:
  • Wrench
  • Kerosene
  • Old, soft toothbrush
  • Replacement pump strainer and gasket
Step 3: Soak strainer in kerosene for several minutes to loosen any built-up sludge. Carefully clean strainer with old, soft toothbrush.

Step 4: Inspect strainer. If it's torn or badly bent, replace it with new pump strainer of the same type.

Step 5: Set strainer into place on pump, place new gasket on rim, and bolt cover of pump housing back on.

Sometimes the problem is not in the filter but the stack control, a safety device that shuts down the furnace. Find out how to check it and what to do about it on the next page.

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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