Friday, September 30, 2011

Water Heater

I recently had to clean out a sooted up oil fired water heater.  This first photo shows the inside of the heat exchanger after I was done cleaning it.  The heat exchanger is basically a large tube inside the water tank.  The inside of this tube has hundreds of these steel fins welded to it.  The oil burner is at the bottom of this tube and the hot exhaust flows up past all these fins and heats the water.

This photo shows the water heater.  In order to clean it out I had to remove the chimney from the top of the unit.  In this case the chimney was also tied in with a couple of boilers for heating the building.

When I first removed the barometric damper (the piece with the little door that flops around) from the chimney and looked inside this is what I saw.  The entire thing was plugged up tight.

After cleaning off the top and removing the core from the heat exchanger I could see that all of the fins were packed full of soot.  Compare this photo to the first one.  The cause of this all this soot is an improperly running burner.  Typically the nozzle wears out or gets plugged up, this causes the oil to burn erratically and produce soot.  Once a little soot accumulates in the heat exchanger it starts to restrict the air flow.  This restriction in airflow then causes the burner to run worse, this makes more soot and restricts the airflow further.  Eventually the whole thing ends gets clogged up solid and someone calls me to fix it.

I used a long wire brush and a shop vac to clean the soot out.  The wire brush has a long flexible handle that allows it to be pushed between all the fins from the top opening.  It takes a lot of scrubbing to get into every little space.

I also removed the gun from the bottom of the tank so that I could clean the soot out of it.  On this unit the oil lines are plumbed from a Tigerloop with flexible lines.  This allows the gun to be removed without disconnecting anything.
To avoid these problems you should change the nozzle and filter annually and if anything seems out of the ordinary have the burner adjusted by a qualified technician.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fuel Oil Tank

All of the buildings that I maintain are heated with fuel oil that is stored in outdoor tanks.  Outdoor storage tanks are prone to collecting water from condensation.  Part of my fall maintenance plan is to check each tank for water. 

Water is more dense than oil so it sinks to the bottom of the tank.   To check for water in the tank I use a product called "Kolor Kut".  It is a yellow/brown colored paste that comes in a tube.  To use it you rub a little on the end of a dip stick and lower it into your tank.  In this case I am using an old piece of pipe for a dip stick.

When Kolor Kut comes in contact with water it changes to a red color.  In this photo you can see that the paste on the end of the pipe has changed to a pink color.  There is about 1/2" of water in the bottom of the tank.

On many older tanks there is a drain on the bottom of the tank that can be used to remove the water, but newer tanks normally only have openings in the top.  To get the water out of the bottom of this tank I used a Super Syphon.  The Super Syphon is a handy little one way valve connected to a piece of clear plastic hose.  It is a great way to transfer liquids from one container to another.  They normally come with only 6' of hose but I put a longer piece on this one to use it on large tanks like this.

To make sure that I got the siphon all the way to the bottom of the tank I connected it to the dipstick with zip ties. This allows me to move the siphon around on the bottom of the tank to make sure that it is in the lowest spot.  I have also used this technique to clean water or dirt out of the bottom of snowmobile gas tanks.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Polaris Sportsman 500

I had a Polaris Sportsman 500 in the shop with electric starter problems.  It had a few corroded wires and loose connections between the battery and the starter solenoid and wore out brushes on the starter motor.

ATVs around here get used like automobiles in suburban America.  People make lots of short trips around town.  The engine gets started and stopped frequently.  This leads to a lot of wear and tear on starters and the electrical starting system.

This photo shows the brush holder assembly for the starter.  The brush on the top is completely worn out and the lower one is also getting short. 

I change these often enough that I keep a few spare brush sets on hand.  For some vehicles I have the complete brush holder assembly and for less popular models I have a few universal brushes that I can solder onto the original holder.  The universal brushes are cheaper, but the extra time to solder them on cancels out any savings.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Busy Day

Some days I work on a great variety of projects.

I started the day by replacing the rollers in the clutch from a Yamaha Grizzly

Then I replaced a compressor in a freezer at the local store.

Before lunch I had a little time to work on one of my own projects.  I bent a few pieces of stainless steel to make a holder for the anchor in my boat.

After lunch I worked on a boiler in a home heating system.

I then traveled to the nearby village of Teller to fix a toilet.

After working on the toilet I used my boat to haul a load of lumber to Brevig.