Updating Your HVAC Unit

Burning Money: How Oil Furnace Pump Faults Increase Running Costs

One of the fringe benefits of using an oil furnace, instead of gas or electric furnaces, is that it is very easy to keep track of fuel consumption. If your furnace is using more fuel than it should, you will need to purchase more oil or schedule more frequent oil deliveries, putting a very noticeable dent in your household budget.

There are many underlying problems that can increase fuel consumption in oil furnaces, and issues with the furnace's oil pump are common causes of inefficiency. 

How Can Oil Pump Faults Increase Running Costs?

The oil pump, sometimes referred to as a fuel unit, is one of the most vital components in any oil furnace. It sprays a fine mist of heating oil into the furnace's combustion chamber, where it is burned to produce usable heat.

To function efficiently, this pump must operate at specific pressures. Excessive oil pressure can cause too much oil to spray into the combustion chamber too quickly. The oil will still burn and produce heat, but because the oil-to-air ratio within the chamber is too high, it will not burn efficiently. Your oil furnace will use more oil to produce the same amount of heat, and you may notice thick gray or black smoke coming from the furnace's exhaust flue.

Oil pumps are also fitted with nozzles, which regulate the spray pattern of the oil entering the chamber. If this nozzle is damaged, badly calibrated, or is simply the wrong type of nozzle for your oil furnace, it may spray too much oil into the chamber, or allow oil to leak out of the pump. These problems can also allow too much oil into the combustion chamber, increasing fuel consumption and reducing efficiency. 

Your Oil Furnace Is Burning Too Much Fuel — What Should You Do?

If you have noticed your oil furnace is using more fuel than it should, you should call in a furnace repair contractor as soon as possible to inspect your furnace. Acting quickly can save you hundreds of dollars that would otherwise literally go up in smoke.

The contractors will inspect your furnace's oil pump assembly and determine whether it is causing your fuel consumption woes. It may be that the pump is simply set to operate at too high a pressure or that the nozzle has been poorly adjusted during previous maintenance. These problems can be fixed quickly, which should return your furnace to full efficiency.

If the nozzle is damaged or is not the correct nozzle for your furnace, it can usually be replaced quickly and inexpensively. Faults with the pump itself can be more of an issue. If the pump is operating at excessive pressure because of component wear or electrical issues, it may be repairable. However, it may be more economical to simply have the entire pump replaced, especially if your oil furnace is quite old.

Your repair service will also inspect other components which can increase oil consumption and running costs. Faulty thermostats, damaged heat exchanges, and dirty air filters can all cause your furnace to use more oil than necessary. Once any other faults have been rectified, you should notice an immediate drop in running costs.

For more information on furnace repair, contact a professional near you.