Oil Burner Carbon Dioxide Test
How to Measure & Set Oil Burner CO2 Levels
for Efficient Oil Burner Operation
OIL BURNER CO2 TEST - CONTENTS: Guide to oil burner operating tests: Bachrach or Bosch Kit Carbon Dioxide Level measurements for oil burners. How to measure oil burner CO2 level to evaluate system efficiency and operation. How to inspect & repair oil fired central hot water heating boilers or warm air furnaces
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Oil burner carbon dioxide level testing, which in turn reflects combustion air & temperature adjustment is necessary for safe, efficient and reliable oil burner operation: this article explains and illustrates how an oil burner CO2 test is performed - a key step in oil burner adjustment. An oil burner adjustment of combustion air, operating temperature, oil pressure, and other factors such as nozzle spray pattern selection all affect the completeness of combustion which in turn is reflected in the CO2 level measured in flue gas exhaust sampled in the breech. Page top image: the traditional Fyrite CO2 tester from a Bachrach oil burner tuning kit.
This article series answers most questions about central hot water heating system troubleshooting, inspection, diagnosis, and repairs. 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.
The basic measurements made by any competent oil heat service technician include the stack temperature, draft, smoke level, and carbon dioxide level.
Along with OIL BURNER SMOKE TEST, the second common test performed by an oil heat technician evaluates the oil burner efficiency by measuring the carbon dioxide level or CO2 level in the oil burner exhaust.
While there are electronic sensors used by some technicians for this purpose, many oil heat service tech's continue to use the time-tested Bachrach Fyrite™ oil burner tester shown below.
Our photos above show the rubber bulb and tubing used to pump oil burner exhaust gases into the CO2 level tester (the bulb and tubing atop the smoke tester, above left), and a closeup of a well-used CO2 tester (above right).
Measurement is made at the same flue vent connector location as we discussed above.
Shown at left, a modern approach to measuring CO2 using the Fyrite II from Bachrach.
Watch out: if your heating oil company does not provide working test equipment for the service technician, setting the oil burner adjustments is going to be done by guesswork.
The result is likely to be either higher heating costs over the season for a system that is running too hot, or higher heating service costs for a system that runs too dirty.
In fact when the author (DF) attended oil burner school we were taught to make two openings into the flue so that smoke level and CO2 measurements could be made through one opening while a thermometer or draft gauge monitored those two additional data points at the second opening.
The CO2 tester is filled with a red fluid that changes volume in response to carbon dioxide level. The Fyrite test unit is inverted, returned to upright, tilted at 45 degrees, to prepare it for use and to calibrate or set the "zero point" on the CO2 gauge. A cap on the unit is depressed to vent the unit to the atmosphere and the zero point is set on the adjustable gauge.
Exhaust gas is pumped into the CO2 tester, the tester is treated with flue gas exhaust for the required number of strokes (18) to purge the tubing and bulb and analyzer (tester).
Why so many puffs of the rubber bulb? Remember you have to purge ambient air out of the tubing, the bulb, and the test instrument to be sure your sample in the instrument is of flue gas.
The analyzer is inverted, then returned to upright, tilted 45 degrees, returned to upright, and the CO2 scale is read.
The Carbon Dioxide vs Oil Burner Efficiency chart below explains how the percent of carbon dioxide in oil burner exhaust gases translates into oil burner efficiency. Bachrach Fyrite instructions and Oil Burner efficiency chart below, source: Audel's Oil Burner Guide.
The chart at left illustrates combustion efficiency, stated as fuel loss at an oil burner, for a given CO2 level at different stack temperatures.
[Click any image or table to see an enlarged, detailed version.]
Watch out: It's easy to make it look as if oil burner has been set for very high efficiency: just stand with your leg blocking the air intake at the oil burner air shutter while making the CO2 measurement.
But that nonsense, while it may make the burner adjustment look "good" is likely to waste fuel during the heating season and may result in smoky sooty operation leading to a loss of heat.
We want good oil burner efficiency, up to the point of improper operation. The illustrations at left and below, from our Bachrach manual, explain how the Fyrite CO2 analyzer is operated and give a chart useful to read oil burner efficiency levels for different CO2 levels at different operating temperatures.
Combustion Analyzer Recommendtions & Sources of Oil or Gas Burner Combustion Testing Kits include CO2 Measuring Devices
Bachrach Inc. provides the Fyrit ® Classic Oil Kit (shown in the case photos above) for testing oil or gas burners, as well as a number of other test instruments such as the Fyright® Insight® Plus (electronic), Fyrite Intech®, the ECA450, and the PCA 3 portable combustion analyzer.
Website: http://www.bacharach-inc.com/combustion-test-kits.htm, Bacharach Sales/Service Center
621 Hunt Valley Circle
New Kensington, PA 15068-7074
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.
Readers should see HEATING SYSTEM INSPECTION PROCEDURE. There we explain an organized approach to inspecting the entire heating system, beginning outdoors, continuing indoors, and ultimately in most detail in the boiler or furnace room.
Continue reading at OIL BURNER WONT RUN or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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 Beckett Corporation, 38251 Center Ridge Rd.,
North Ridgeville, OH 44039 440-327-1060 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org supplies residential and commercial oil burners for boilers, furnaces, and water heaters - see www.beckettcorp.com/
 Thanks to Bottini Fuel service. Bottini Fuel is a residential and commercial heating oil distributor and oil heat service company in Wappingers Falls, NY and with offices in other New York locations. Bottini Fuel, 2785 W Main St, Wappingers Falls NY, 12590-1576 (845) 297-5580 more contact information for Bottini Fuel
 Audels Oil Burner Guide, Installation, Servicing, Repairing, Frank D. Graham, 1947 edition (obsolete, out of print). See Brumbaugh, James E. Audel HVAC Fundamentals, Volume 2: Heating or see various versions of this guide available in editions from 1947, 1950, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1965, 1967, and at prices from around $3.00 to nearly $70.00 - useful for simple, clear, but not current, explanation of how heating equipment works. The original retail price was $1.00. Used copies are available at Amazon.com
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, 2010, $69.00 U.S., is available from Carson Dunlop, and from the InspectAPedia bookstore. The 2010 edition of the Home Reference Book is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. InspectAPedia.com ®
sup> author/editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Audels Oil Burner Guide, Installation, Servicing, Repairing, Frank D. Graham, 1940's edition (obsolete). Updated versions of this guide are available in various editions, 1947, 1950, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1965, 1967, and at prices from around $3.00 to nearly $70.00 - useful for simple, clear, but not current, explanation of how heating equipment works. The original retail price was $1.00. Used copies are available at Amazon.com
Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners, Charles H. Burkhardt, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York 3rd Ed 1969.
National Fuel Gas Code (Z223.1) $16.00 and National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (Z223.2) $47.00 American Gas Association (A.G.A.), 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 also available from National Fire Protection Association, Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department. American Gas Association, 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209. Catalog #XHO585. Reprinted 1989.
The Steam Book, 1984, Training and Education Department, Fluid Handling Division, ITT [probably out of print, possibly available from several home inspection supply companies] Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, October 1990, offers an update,
Principles of Steam Heating, $13.25 includes postage. Fuel oil & Oil Heat Magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004.
"Residential Hydronic (circulating hot water) Heating Systems", Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
"Warm Air Heating Systems". Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Volume I, Heating Fundamentals,
Boilers, Boiler Conversions, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23389-4 (v. 1) Volume II, Oil, Gas, and Coal Burners, Controls, Ducts, Piping, Valves, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23390-7 (v. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23383-5 (v. 3) or ISBN 0-672-23380-0 (set) Special Sales Director, Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY
Installation Guide for Residential Hydronic Heating Systems
Installation Guide #200, The Hydronics Institute, 35 Russo Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
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. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. Booklet.)