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How to Clean an Oil Burner

How to Clean an Oil Burner

Oil burner cleaning is essential to maintain your burner and keep it running efficiently. However, failure to clean your burner regularly could lead to soot and grime buildup over time, making your burner work harder, causing strain, and ultimately increasing energy costs.

Here is how to clean your oil burner to ensure that it’s in pristine condition all through the year:

How Often Should an Oil Burner Be Cleaned?

It’s best to clean your oil burner on an annual basis. The cleaning is best done at the end of winter because most people stop using the furnace or boiler as soon as the weather starts warming up. However, if you live in a freezing climate and use the furnace or boiler for winter and fall, it might be best to clean your oil burner at least twice a year.

Why Should I Clean My Oil Burner?

Cleaning your oil burner is critical. Here are some of the reasons why you should clean your oil burner:


It would help if you cleaned your oil burner more often to get the most BTUs out of your heating oil. For example, when there’s a lot of soot on your Burnham oil boiler, the burner doesn’t burn oil as well, decreasing burn efficiency. When this happens, it can constrict the flow of warm air into your home. In short, if there is soot buildup, you’re paying money for oil, which isn’t being transferred into actual heat for your home.

Additionally, if your oil is not flowing well, you could have sludge in the lines. In this case, the burner might not be burning as hot, and you could be losing heat. This factor might also cause an unexpected outage during winter.

Reduced Cleaning Costs

After the recommended cleaning time, cleaning your burner could cost more and take more time. However, cleaning it every year could take at least an hour or less. After all, oil burner cleaning is a simple routine that saves you money, headache and might help you avoid a possible breakdown.

How Do You Clean an Oil Burning Boiler?

Oil burning boilers produce heat by pumping fuel oil mist through a nozzle, igniting flames through ignition electrodes. Burner blowers and ducts distribute the hot air produced by this ignition to heat your home.

Dust and debris buildup can reduce your boiler’s efficiency and make it very unsafe to use. However, the specifics of each boiler vary depending on the make and model; therefore, it’s crucial to read your manual before cleaning. Cleaning oil-burning boilers don’t have to be a hassle; you can perform some basic cleaning procedures and seek professional help for more complex ones.

Here is how you can clean an oil-burning boiler:


It’s always best to shut off the electricity powering the boiler before performing maintenance or cleaning. After this, allow the boiler to cool completely and then do the following:

  • Wear safety goggles and thick gloves.
  • Have a dust mask to avoid breathing in soot.
  • Wear pants and long sleeves when working on the boiler
  • Work in a well-ventilated area.

Furnace Cleaning

You can follow these steps if you want to have a clean furnace:

  • First, access the service door and vacuum debris, soot, and loose dust inside the boiler.
  • Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the interior compartment and the burner motor of the furnace to ensure it’s free of grease, dust, and oil buildup.
  • Do not touch electrical wires during the cleaning process.
  • After cleaning, lubricate the burner motor based on your boiler’s manual instructions.
  • Wipe down the interior of the service door and replace it.
  • Wipe the exterior unit with a clean and damp microfiber cloth.
  • Let the boiler air-dry before turning the power back on.

Cleaning the Chimney

The chimney is not part of an oil-burning boiler; however, it’s crucial to keep this part of the home clean to avoid soot and carbon monoxide buildup. You can do this without professional help. All you have to do is to purchase a great set of brushes and chimney rods, move the boiler out of the way, and then brush the dirt or soot down onto the floor.

It would help if you did this until there’s no more soot or dirt on the chimney walls. Then, you can clean the resultant mess with a vacuum cleaner.

Other Maintenance Tips

These tips can also help you ensure that your boiler is clean:

  • Sweep and mop the area around the furnace because the unit might pull dirt and lint into the burner, leading to soot buildup and inefficient operation.
  • Change the fuel oil filter as needed. You should find guidelines for filter replacement on your boiler’s manual.
  • Remove the thermostat covers and brush away any dust using a small, soft brush.

Should I Get a Professional to Clean My Oil Burner?

More complex maintenance requires professional assistance. You can determine if you should seek professional help by inspecting your burner mounting plate. This is the plate that connects the burner blower to the furnace shell, and if there are any streaks, it might indicate leaks.

Additionally, look for any signs of corrosion on the exhaust stack and leaks from the fuel storage tank. Suppose you note leaks and any signs of corrosion. In that case, it’s best to find licensed professionals to replace exhaust stacks, burner nozzles, fuel tanks, belts, electrodes, burner mounting plates, and other essential parts.

You can also hire a professional to perform an annual efficiency test and vent system inspection. If you have not cleaned your oil burner in a long time, it might be best to hire a professional to do the job, especially if the device in question doesn’t seem to be functioning correctly.

How Much Does It Cost to Get an Oil Burner Cleaned?

Oil furnace cleaning costs can range from $150 to $ 500 as part of an overall service. If you do not service your burner, it can turn from an essential HVAC appliance to an unreliable and potentially dangerous unit in your home.

Regular cleaning of your oil burner ensures no mineral buildup and that the system can run reliably.

How Do You Clean Soot From Oil Burners?

If your oil burner is operating correctly, minor or no soot should be generated as the fuel is burned to create the heat needed to warm your home. However, one leaky or a clogged burner can create a dangerous situation leading to an explosion known as a puff back.

A puff back sends soot throughout your ducts and can fill your home with black marks and oily smoke that can linger for several years. It’s best to understand what caused the problem and how to handle and how to handle the potentially hazardous materials released by your furnace.

Here is how you can clean soot from oil burners:

Find Professional Help

It would help if you treated soot blown around the house by a malfunctioning furnace professionally. It’s best to neutralize the oily residue and carefully scrub or wipe it away to prevent causing damage to the carpeting, drywall, upholstery, or another surface the soot settles on.

Change the Filter

You might have to change the air filter after a puff back. However, a puff back leaves a lot of residues that might clog up even a new filter; therefore, buying a new filter is a small investment that you might have to undertake as you’re awaiting repairs. In addition, a new filter prevents debris from being blown around the vents and ducts the first time you start the heating system up again.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Oil Burner?

Failure to clean your oil burner regularly could result in the distribution of harmful debris around your house. This can cause several health problems, including colds, viruses, and other germs, because they are not adequately cleaned from your air ducts.

How to Clean an Oil Stove

It’s best to clean your oil stove at least once a year. Here’s how to do it:

  • Turn off the stove.
  • Open the stove wide to help you see all the parts involved. You might come across a cylindrical metal piece in the center; lift it with your chosen scraper, and push it in to find out how thick the muck is.
  • Scrape off a lot of black residues, scrape the sides, and reach down to get to the corners way underneath.
  • Clean off the glass plate in the front using a non-toxic gas cleaner. You can wipe off whatever you can with a paper towel and then clean the residue with a glass cleaner.
  • Vacuum using a long attachment hose and eliminate all the debris flakes in the stove. After this, replace the cylindrical metal piece.
  • Go to the bottom of the stove to look for a second door or a second panel beneath the main door and open it. You should find a valve that you can turn clockwise and then counterclockwise.
  • If the valve hasn’t been turned in a while, it will stick; therefore, it’s best to get it unstuck.
  • Try the stove and ensure that you’re getting a blue flame. A blue flame means that you have a healthy stove.

Check this too: How to Clean Mold from an Ice Maker Dispenser

How to Clean Oil Lamp Burner

You can restore the former glory of your oil lamp by deep cleaning it using a few tools and cleaning supplies. Here’s how to do it:

  • Clean the burner under running water using a metal brush to eliminate any ash from the mechanism.
  • If there are any carbonized pieces of wick in the mechanism, you can remove them by brushing with a toothbrush under running water.
  • Let the burner air dry.
  • Replace the old wick and trim any loose threads using a pair of sharp scissors.
  • Slide a new wick into the mechanism at the bottom of the burner.
  • Roll the threading screw regulator to raise the wick above the opening of the burner.
  • At this point, the lamp reservoir will be exposed. Refill it with liquid paraffin or lamp oil to at least half full. Ensure that you don’t use alternative fuels.
  • Screw the burner back into place and let the wick saturate in the fuel before trying to light.

Cleaning an oil burner also involves cleaning the oil-burner nozzle to increase the furnace’s performance. It’s best to know when you can clean an oil burner or look for professional help to assist with the task. Regular cleaning and maintenance ensure that your oil burner operates appropriately during the winter season.