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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Legacy system



My oil furnace guy came over today. That’s one job I’m perfectly happy to not do myself. I have serviced it in the past: changed the filters, vacuumed the combustion chamber, replaced nozzles, and adjusted electrodes. I was so broke I had to do it myself, even though I lacked the proper test equipment and had to wing it. It ran fine when I was done, but what an ugly job.

The furnace is 20 or so years old. Originally, I wanted a gas furnace. In fact, that’s what I thought I’d bought. The salesman said no problem, the installers said no way. It was complicated, but to make a long story short, the oil furnace ended up costing them more than it cost me.

So there I was, stuck with an oil furnace. Many years oil was much cheaper than firewood so I burned oil. 20 years ago my wife and both had full time jobs and really didn’t have the time to deal with wood. It’s one thing when you have the time and ability to gather it yourself. It’s another thing when you have to get it delivered cut and split. Even so, I always could and did burn wood. Some years not much wood, other years mostly wood.

So the furnace guy was able to clean and service it without anything major needing replacement. It’s one serious breakdown from being scrapped. The furnace is a legacy system from the time of cheap oil. It’s worth keeping up, but only for as long as it doesn’t cost much to keep going.

Oil heat isn’t in my budget, at least for day to day usage. I’m going to use it for special occasions. When wood is your only source of heat, someone has to load up the stove every day. If we wanted to go away for a few days, a friend or a relative would come over to keep the home fires burning. An automatic heating system allows us a bit more freedom. One year everyone in the house had the flu. Sure was nice to be able to not bundle up and trudge through the snow to the woodpile.

Since the furnace is rarely used, I don’t even bother with an oil delivery. There’s a 125 gallon minimum delivery and I’m not sure I want to tie up that kind of money, especially with my lack of commitment to oil heat. Instead, the furnace is running off-road diesel. Diesel and heating oil are pretty much interchangeable. Off-road is a bit cheaper because it lacks the road taxes of regular diesel. The diesel is pumped into 5 gallon fuel containers and then hand poured into the fuel tank.

By the way, don’t get caught using heating oil or off road diesel in your vehicle. Sure, it runs just fine, but if you get caught, the fines are substantial. The government takes their road taxes seriously.

-Sixbears

8 comments:

  1. Could you use fry oil in your furnace, or would it be too much bother?

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    Replies
    1. Discovered the hard way that the furnace gun doesn't deal very well at all with fry oil. Even fairly small percentages of veggie to petro will shut it down.

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  2. This is a very useful article for the readers, especially for me

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  3. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)September 8, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    We have both oil & wood. We only use the oil for hot water and the wood stove keeps the entire house warm. Here you have to buy at least l50 gallons. If the price keeps going up, we might be heating water on the stove!

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    Replies
    1. Or buying diesel by the 5 gallon jug?

      My house sitters heated a lot of bath water on the kitchen wood stove. Theyused barely anything other than wood and solar electricity.

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  4. Could you change the jets to take veggie oil?

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    Replies
    1. No. The whole gun would have to be changed -maybe the whole furnace. Even then, filtering is very important.

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