We also discuss how to diagnose oil burner electrodes or nozzle problems, how to inspect, clean, and adjust oil burner nozzles, electrodes, and air turbulators used on heating oil burners found on residential & light commercial oil burners.
Oil burner nozzles have the job of spraying heating oil into the combustion chamber in a spray pattern of the right size and shape to properly fit the equipment and to assure a fine spray that in turn assures as complete combustion of the heating oil as possible.
Oil burner nozzles get grubby during use, but actually they are a beautiful and precision-made and sophisticated device. Our third oil burner nozzle (below right) shows the outlet end of the nozzle and you can see that there is a stainless steel insert with a small opening that forms the spray pattern for this device. Before manufacturers started using these beautiful steel inserts the entire oil burner nozzle was made of brass - and the spray opening would wear during the heating season, leading to a bad spray pattern. In an emergency oil burner texts suggest cleaning this filter or even removing it and trying to de-clog the nozzle orifice. When the service company buys oil burner nozzles (in huge quantities in their case) each oil burner nozzle comes in a (usually color-coded) plastic container such as the one we show at left, indicating the gph rating and the nozzle angle and spray pattern. The number of oil burner nozzle sizes and spray patterns is quite large because the nozzle properties have to accommodate not only models of oil burners themselves but more critically, different sizes and shapes of combustion chambers in boilers, furnaces, and water heaters, and different combustion chamber designs (wet base, dry base, for example). You can find that in the installation and service manual for the oil fired device, you can ask the manufacturer, or you can use a nozzle guide such as the W.M.
You will see that for each brand of oil burner, or boiler, furnace, or water heater, and for each model within that brand, there is a listing of the required oil burner nozzle. In a shorter or smaller combustion chamber, to keep from impinging heating oil in the combustion chamber rear wall (too much impinging means incomplete combustion) we use a more wide-angle spray pattern, perhaps a 60 degree model.
The duplication in codes accommodates not only a range of oil burner nozzle manufacturers or OEM specifications, but also some special features. Watch out: a change in the oil burner spray angle is potentially a more serious error that you seem to be avoiding - by staying with the 80 degree angle. Changing the burner angle or spray pattern (for example going from an A=Hollow Cone to a B=Solid Cone spray pattern or more important, going from a long narrow 60degree angle to a short wide 80 degree spray angle may make the flame size and shape no longer fit properly in the combustion chamber - leading to improper and unsafe oil burner operation.
Changing the heat anticipator in your room thermostat has nothing directlly to do with the choice of oil burner nozzle size. Short oil burner on cycle time can indeed be due to a too-large nozzle, but it could be due to improper control settings, burner adjustments, or other snafus too. Check the data tag on your furnace or boiler to see what the manufacturer says is the acceptable oil burner nozzle size range that is permitted for your equipment, then call a service technician who knows how to service and adjust the system properly.
This article series answers most questions about central hot water heating system troubleshooting, inspection, diagnosis, and repairs. Our sketch (above) shows how an oil burner gun atomizes and sprays heating oil into the combustion chamber - Audel Oil Burner Guide. An oil burner adjustment template provided by Beckett Corporation and shown just below summarizes the adjustment of the ignition electrodes & their positioning for Beckett oil burners.
And for eight oil burner head designs the template recommends oil burner nozzle firing rates (in gallons per hour or gph) and spray pattern or style. As you will read below, there is a very large array of oil burner nozzles and spray patterns provided by a variety of manufacturers. Loose, damaged, misaligned oil burner electrodes (use a simple oil burner nozzle gauge or a small steel rule to see that the position of the oil burner electrodes in their gap apart, their distance above the oil burner nozzle orifice, and their distance forward or backwards relative to the face of the oil burner nozzle are according to the manufacturer's specification.
The nozzle and nozzle adapter and oil delivery tube are to the right of the gauge face and you can see an electrode in line with the upper + mark in the sketch at right. If you try to adjust or replace the oil burner nozzle, electrodes, or electrode ceramics (this is a job for a trained service technician, but an amateur can clean the outside of these parts if working with care not to disturb the adjustment).
Be careful not to over-tighten or damage the brass nozzle-end fittings - the connection between the oil burner nozzle itself and the brass oil burner adapter. The result was damaged threads on the oil line to which the nozzle adapter was mounted, or damaged threads between the nozzle adapter and the nozzle itself - leading to oil spray leaks, improper firing, and having to replace these parts damaged by heavy handedness.
The articles at this website describe how to recognize common oil-fired heating appliance operating or safety defects, and how to save money on home heating costs.
Continue reading at HEATING OIL USAGE RATE or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below.

Most likely you've got a system that is not running properly and is stinking up things at start-up.
Watch out: if this condition continues the risk is a puffback that can damage the equipment and blow soot around the building.
A blocked or dirty chimney or lack of combustion air or other causes could be present - ask your heating service company manager to send a technician who will diagnose and fix the problem.
Joe, take a look at the oil burner diagnostic suggestions beginning at OIL BURNER INSPECTION & REPAIR. Question: I kept my oil furnace running for two hours - would that damage the electrodes or transformer? I kept the oil furnace running continuous for about two hours, then it stopped running by itself. I cleaned my nozzle and bumped my electrodes but I think I got them set back where they go. If there is an oil burner adjustment or cleaning or draft problem, one result could be back pressure in the combustion chamber. If you mean that the door to the boiler room (or furnace room) has to be open for an oil burner to work, that suggests it's air starved - we need about 1 sq. But lack of combustion air usually leads to sooty operation and the oil burner going off on reset, or worse, loss of heat. Watch out: backpressure in the combustion chamber can cause heat to back up the combustion tube and cook the transformer. Anyone know what can goes wrong with the valve in the oil gun assembly and where can I buy the gun assembly with the valve and the nozzle adapter?
Armed with the brand and model of oil burner you could certainly buy an entire assembly, even the burner tube, and replace those parts, but before considering that I'd look for normal maintenance replacements instead.
The usual parts that are replaced are the electrodes if the ceramic is cracked or damaged, and of course the nozzle at annual service.
If someone heavy-handed has worked on the system and over-torqued the nozzle into the nozzle adapter there could be damage and leaks at the nozzle adapter or at the connection of the adapter to the oil tube. The turbulator, if your oil burner gun has one, is cleaned but rarely would need replacement. I have an old Brock engineer oil furnace and black soot comes out of the damper on the floor.
Richard, it sounds like an oil burner clean out and tuneup are needd along with a chimney and combustion air check. I think that you're ok as long as the electrodes, including the metal electrodes themselves and the ceramic insulators and their end connectors that marry the oil burner transformer power supply contacts are in all regards the right dimensions.
The ABC's of Retention Head Oil Burners, National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, TM 115, National Old Timers' Association of the Energy Industry, PO Box 168, Mineola, NY 11501. Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. OK so if you don't know a reason to change, install the same oil burner nozzle type that was already on the burner.
At the right side of the nozzle assembly you can see the sintered bronze filter that protects the oil burner nozzle orifice from clogging. This is not the case any longer and the nozzle below will have no wear problems provided it is replaced during annual maintenance. Second using a wire in the nozzle orifice will likely damage it and ruin the spray pattern.
We need to know the equipment specifications for the oil burner nozzle recommended by the manufacturer. For example, the Special Design AR nozzle is designed to minimize oil burner flame noise or rumble.
I am trying to eliminate the short cycle and short time on which is the problem I've having now. We describe how to inspect, troubleshoot and repair heating and air conditioning systems to inform home owners, buyers, and home inspectors of common heating system defects.

Our photos (above) show how a stainless steel oil burner nozzle and electrode adjustment gauge is used to align the oil burner electrodes, courtesy of Beckett Corporation, a supplier of oil burners including the model shown at the top of this page.
Early in our oil burner service experience we thought it was great to make these parts as tight as possible. Because you describe the smell as not continuous, just at start-up, I suspect a dirty system that needs cleaning and service. Once strong draft is established and the system is up to full operating temperature (typically 5 minutes), the draft improves and combustion may improve enough to keep going.
During the heating season the techs are overworked and over committed and sometimes will just clean the system without taking the time to diagnose an actual problem and fix it.
Usually when a system is limping along as yours is described, the operating problem is going to get worse.
The oil burner may start and run, but back pressure sends heat back up the burner tube where it can overheat (and destroy) the ignition transformer and it may also heat up the primary or cad cell control mounted on the same assembly. When a fuel unit keeps pumping oil into the combustion chamber without ignition, later ignition can cause a dangerous puffback explosion. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department.
But of course if oil reaching this point is dirty (say you never installed that oil filter or it's leaking debris), this final filter will clog.
2 heating oil that the nozzle will pass, assuming that the oil burner fuel unit is set to 100 psi. Every once in a while it will not re-light I press the reset button, it might run perfect for a week or two, then one day it will not light Press button again,starts right up and runs perfect, maybe for two days or two weeks again, then all of a sudden it will not light Any suggestions what to look for.
I'd look for an air leak in the oil piping, a dirty oil burner, a clogging filter, a draft problem. On the coldest windiest day of the year in a poorly insulated home an oil burner might run almost continuously for hours. If we don't have enough combustion air to ignite then we shouldn't have enough combustion air to keep going. I suspect the transformer was already failing and a normal 10,000V spark would have blown the carbon filament away.
It is the proper matching of nozzle size and type and spray pattern to the equipment that is critical.
Nozzle guide - a book that lists literally thousands of oil burner nozzles for every application. No one, not even the factory, is going to be able to adjust the electrodes with that kind of tolerance!
I figure you need a service call from an expert heating service tech who will check the condition of the burner, combustion air setting, cleanliness of the flue vent connector and chimney, the draft, and a few other parameters. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home.
I checked to see if working properly by pushing red switch when running and when pushed down it stops and let up it continues.
The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order.
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