Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wrestling with the beast

UPDATE: I'm done for the day, sort of cleaned up and in need of a gasket and a ceramic ring around the burner gun. That aside, it seems to be passing exhaust, not sure why it acts plugged. I've spent another 6 hours on it and I'm done. It either works perfectly after said parts are installed, or I start looking for a contractor to install a new, propane-fired number. oil furnaces suk monkey balls.

There was point this evening that I should have had PW take my picture. Mr. Bud would have appreciated the sight of me literally covered head-to-toe in soot. I spent a fair part of the day attempting to clean out and get my fuel oil-fired furnace running, again. This spring, the exhaust side plugged, it began to burn very rich and filled itself with soot. Mr bud found it, dead, some days later as PW was out of town and I was at sea.

So, today I tried to bring it back from the dead. If you've ever owned a fuel oil furnace, you might have an idea of how unpleasant this can be. I began by pulling the entire motor, pump and burner assembly in order to access the burn chamber. I should note, I spilled a fair amount of fuel oil from the pump and the supply line at this point. The burn chamber, like the rest of the furnace was filled about half full with soot. My little shop vac would not do the trick so I blew into town with LP and got a man-size shop from mr. Bud. I vacuumed out as much as possible, then tore off the exhaust pipe running to the chimney and sucked as much soot as I could from it. Still, I knew there was a lot of soot between the burn chamber and the exhaust pipe, so I decided to take advantage of the fact that the shop vac included a removable blower.

I thought to test the power of the blower by sticking into the exhaust pipe to blow the unreachable soot back into the burn chamber. Instead, I blew a shitload of soot directly back into my face and then all over the basement. Soot doesn't taste bad, exactly. Neither does it taste particularly good. After much gagging and spitting black shit on the floor, I decided on a better plan.

Jurry-rigging the exhaust back to the chimney, I plugged the large hole to the burn chamber and inserted the blower into the observation port. Turning it on, I re-learned that Mr Bud does not mess around with tools. It blew soot from the burn chamber, up into the heat exchanger, through the exhaust and into the chimney. It also blew it out ever half-assed seal from the other furnaces and wood stoves connected to it over the last 101 years. And out of every joint in the exhaust pipe and poorly sealed burn chamber directly into my eyes. Fuel oil soot burns in the eyes (and in cuts).

Nonetheless, I had accomplished the mission of clearing the burn chamber. I unhooked the exhaust, cleared it one more time, as well as clearing the chimney. Next, I opened two, small access ports to the heat exchanger. In order to get at one of them, I had to remove the control box mounted on the inside of the motor space. A series of vacuum tools connected to assorted improvised "things" such as a washing machine drain hose and some sort of rubber doohickey sucked soot out of the access holes, scraped down from the upper burn chamber with a bent coat hanger. I scraped and vacuumed, over and over for 3 hours, hunched down into the motor space with a small Maglite flashlight in my mouth. LP came down for a short tutorial, determined her dad is a disgustingly dirty idiot and left.

After putting it all back together (stripping one bolt and kinking the copper fuel oil line) I fired it up. I had to bleed the fuel line and the pump, but it fired right off, blowing soot, smoke and fire about 2 feet straight out of the observation port and I am back to square one. Somewhere, the exhaust side is plugged. I also noticed I need a new cork gasket between the burner gun housing and the burn chamber. I've spent at least a grand on this fucking beast in past 3 years and it doesn't work, dammit!!

Anyway, it took an hour to get myself passably clean, I had some cold pizza for dinner and later I made myself a chocolate malt. It's 2am and I'm watching Escape from Alcatraz. Why?


Blondie said...

When I read these things, I remember to be happy that I don't own property. And only the people who own property regularly use the words "shop vac" by the way. Ma, Pa, and Dorothy are totally guilty of it. Shop vac this shop vac that....blah blah blah.

One word: Goggles.

Freddie said...

Damn. That sucks.

Hope you get it resolved soon.

Guess cleaning the blinds isn't so bad after all...

Newfie'sWoman said...

Reading that makes me awful glad me rents me little place in Hell know as NW Nuthouse. LOL ;)

And me will NOT tell you how inempt me is with tools and fixing things and leave that to yer imagination. ;) LMAO

Mr. Bud said...

yeah. leave this shit to the landlord people. oy.

lest we remember where 'my' tool from hell came from? don't say. i think it would be incriminating... might show we drink to much.

the phone calls make my day :)

this is why i can't except your harder earned dollars then mine. The beast will be tamed grasshopper. patience. it'll fly, it's just a controlled explosion. that's all.

as carbon based units. that shit's good for ya. :)

Fyremandoug said...

Dude thats why I have the service guy out once a year in the late summer and Pay him to get all freekin sooty, I change the filters and the belt and thats that

Mr. Bud said...

oh, i so want to comment. but this ain't my space. and i know your all sooty again....

snack and tools.. and i'm back at it.. cells on again...

Kim said...

Pirate! I must fix my blogroll.
2am? Why not? It's the perfect time for children to roll in and to ruminate on the world's ills.
Or have heartburn from the pizza.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

You know I really enjoy your writing right? Like, you are one of my favorite reads and nothing makes me happier than stories of being pistol whipped in a windowless room in Jakarta or another installment of The Celery Stalker.

That being said. I read this and my brain shut off. It was the weirdest thing. Like, I hit "gasket" and my cerebral cortex gave a shudder and by the time I reached "exhaust side plugged" most everything after that looked like blah, blah, blah.

Hope you get the furnace back up and running soon. I'm going to forward this post to my husband. I think there's enough home improvement references to keep him aroused for at least a week.