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Heating Oil Burners: How Do They Work?

In our previous blog, we took a close look at the various controls that are used in oilheat systems. Heating oil systems are like any other systems; they require all components of the system to work together. But some parts can be considered more important than others. The part that’s key to the efficient and effective operation of a heating oil system is its burner.

The burner is truly the engine of the heating system. It is responsible for the beginning of the energy process and for the transformation of heating oil into the delivery of heat to your home.

Here’s how today’s oil burners work

  • An electric motor in the burner drives the fan and fuel pump.
  • The fan pushes air to the burner’s air tube to support combustion
  • The pump draws oil from the tank and delivers it to the nozzle
  • The regulating valve, located in the pump housing, produces the right amount of pressure to atomize or break down the oil.
  • The ignition/transformer produces a high-voltage spark that provides enough heat to vaporize the atomized oil from the nozzle and achieve ignition.

Once the atomized oil is ignited, the rest of the system plays its part to create hot water or hot air and circulate it throughout the home.

When to replace your oil burner

If the rest of your oilheating system has remained in good condition and operates to your satisfaction, there’s still a good chance that the oil burner is out of date. Your heating oil service provider may be able to retrofit it with a modern, efficient burner.

Usually, the rule of thumb for the industry is if the efficiency of the heating system is less than 75%—even after a system tune-up has been done—a new burner is advisable. A new high-efficiency burner often pays for itself in just a few years through lower heating costs.

The newest burners contain electronic pre-purge and post-purge controls to ensure ultra-clean starts and stops. New two-stage burners also have an efficiency level that’s 5–15% higher than older ones because they have been designed to conserve fuel.

Please reach out to us to your Wisconsin oilheat service provider to find out more about how your burner—and the rest of your heating system—works.