Oil boilers and furnaces can provide a great deal of heating to a home while at the same time helping to offset electric heating bills. There are many old houses that have an old oil boiler or furnace and use the device in question to keep the house warm and generate hot water. However, it is very important to note that an oil furnace or boiler will only function properly if it is regularly maintained and cleaned.
Generally speaking, an oil boiler or furnace should be cleaned on an annual basis. The cleaning is best done right at the end of winter, as most individuals no longer use the boiler or furnace once the weather starts warming up. However, those who live in very cold climates and/or use the boiler or furnace for fall and winter may want to have the device in question cleaned twice a year.
When in doubt, it is better to clean the boiler or furnace too often instead of not often enough. Oil furnaces in particular produce carbon and sulfur and these substances can leave a nasty mark on the chimney or even the wall area surrounding the furnace or boiler. Worse yet, the soot buildup in the chimney can prevent harmful carbon monoxide, water vapor and nitrogen from getting out of the house, causing a serious health hazard for the home’s residents.
DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
An average person who is in good health can usually clean a boiler or furnace without professional help. However, if a boiler or furnace has not been cleaned in a long time, it is best to hire a professional to do the job. Hiring a professional is also the best option if the device in question does not seem to be functioning properly.
Before cleaning an oil boiler, a homeowner should turn the device off and allow it to cool down. Once the boiler is no longer hot, the oil filter should be changed. The motor and draft regulator should then be vacuumed using a vacuum cleaner brush attachment, after which a person should wipe the motor and regulator down with a cloth in order to get rid of built up oil.
Once a person has cleaned these parts of the boiler, he or she should vacuum the floor around the area to get rid of dust and lint particles. It is also a good idea to remove thermostat covers and dust these off to ensure that they remain accurate and free from damage.
Cleaning an Oil Furnace
Cleaning an oil furnace takes a bit more work than cleaning an oil burner, but it is still a very doable job. To start with, a person will need to open the panel door and check the filter. A permanent filter will simply need to be cleaned using a special chemical agent that is made for just this purpose. A temporary filter should be replaced with a new one.
After replacing or cleaning the filter, a person should unplug the fan unit and clean the blower. This can be done with an old toothbrush, after which a vacuum cleaner can be used to eliminate the dirt residue. If the blower motor is sealed, then it may need to be lubricated after it has been cleaned.
Cleaning the Chimney
While the chimney is not a part of a boiler or furnace, it is extremely important to keep this part of the home clean so that soot and CO gas does not build up. Once again, this is something that can be done without professional help. A person simply needs to purchase a good set of chimney rods and brushes, move the furnace or boiler out of the way and then brush the soot and dirt down onto the floor. This should be done until there is no more soot or dirt left on the chimney walls. The mess can then be cleaned using a vacuum cleaner.
Some maintenance tasks are tied in with cleaning a boiler or furnace. Replacing the filter on either of these devices is something that is generally done as part of the cleanup job, as doing maintenance at the same time as a cleaning job can be a good idea.
At the same time, a boiler or furnace should always be maintained or at least examined by a professional. Those who do not have experience cleaning and/or monitoring these devices will often fail to catch potentially serious problems that are not immediately visible to the naked eye. A professional can ensure the boiler or furnace is operating just as it should and give good advice on parts replacement or repair.
Choosing an Inspector and/or Cleaner
Some people would naturally prefer to hire a professional to clean and/or examine a furnace or boiler instead of doing the job on a DIY basis. Those who would like to have a third party do this job should be sure to hire a company or individual who has the experience and tools needed to do the job right.
When hiring an inspector, it is very important to note what the inspector will and will not do. Some inspectors will tweak or adjust a part of a furnace or boiler but this does not mean that the inspector is providing all needed maintenance for the device in question. A person should always ask the inspector what will and will not be done and ensure that all recommended repairs are dealt with in a timely manner.
When hiring a cleaning company, it is important to choose a company that has been in business for a long time and that has a reputation for doing a good job at a reasonable price. Calling a number of companies for a price quote can be a good way to find a good deal, but it is also important to do some research online and make sure the company is licensed and has a good reputation in the local area.
Anyone who has an oil boiler or oil furnace at home should make sure the device in question is cleaned as often as needed. In most cases a person only needs to clean the device annually, but a device that gets used on a very regular basis may need to be cleaned twice a year. The cleaning job can be done either by a professional or by a homeowner. However, those who are cleaning a boiler or furnace without professional help will still want to have the device inspected once a year to make sure it is functioning properly and there are no hidden problems.