Helpful Hints for the Customer
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Below are tips that may help you out if a problem occurs and the problem may only be a simple solution to fix it, and save you a service call.
If you are heating with oil and the burner does not turn on and the thermostat is calling for heat. First check that the Emergency Switch by the door to the cellar stairs is switched on. It should be about 5 1/2 to 6 feet up from the floor and it should have a red cover stating it is an Emergency Oil Burner Electrical Switch. It looks like a typical light switch, except it is high on the wall and has a red cover with writing on it. Sometimes, it is either incorrectly installed at a lower level, or installed in the wrong place, and sometimes, it has the red cover removed and a typical wall switch cover installed in its place. Someone might have thought it was a light switch and may have turned it off. If it were off, turn it on. If the burner doesn't start up, check to see if the breaker or fuse has been tripped. replace or reset. If the burner still doesn't come on, check to see if the service switch mounted on the boiler, or very close by, is off. Turn it on if it is, and if the burner still doesn't come on, check to see if there is enough oil in the tank. If there is at least an eighth of a tank and the burner still won't come on, then call your Service Technician. The red reset button on the burner should never be pushed more than once, because it may send too much oil into the fire box. You should call your Service Technician first and only push the red reset button on his suggestion.
If you are heating with Natural Gas or Propane Gas, follow the same procedures above, with the exception for Natural Gas, that you won't be able to tell if you are receiving gas to the burner. With Propane Gas you will have a tank, either above ground or below. There will be an access cover over the fill and the percentage gage. Lift the cover and you should have at least the needle pointing to the number 10, which means 10% of fuel left. If it is below that, call your Propane Gas supplier and let them know and call your Service Technician also. Keep in mind that, even though you are heating with gas and it is not required to have an Emergency Switch by the door to the cellar, there still may be one there. The Gas Appliance may have replaced an Oil Appliance and no one bothered to remove the Emergency Switch from the circuit.
†††† If you are heating with Steam and you go down to the basement to add water to the boiler and you Do Not see any water in the sight glass, you should first turn off the service switch, or turn off the breaker or remove the screw in fuse, or turn down the thermostat all of the way. Some of the old Gas Fired Steam Boilers do not have any electrical power going to them and if you need to, shut off the gas supply valve that should be in line on the gas piping near the boiler connecting to the burner. Next, determine that the boiler isnít over filled. If not, leave the boiler off for an hour and call your Boiler Service Technician. NEVER start adding water right away. If there wasnít any water visible in the sight glass the Low Water Cut Off has probably failed and the caste iron in the fire box of the boiler where the burner flames are may have the caste iron red hot, and adding water right away will cause a very loud noise and crack your boiler. Giving it an hour to cool down is the best solution. If after an hour the Boiler Service Tech has not gotten back to you, you may start adding water slowly to the boiler until you see it appearing in the sight glass. If water is not coming out of the sides or base of the boiler by the time you bring the water level up to the proper place in the sight glass, you saved yourself the cost of a new boiler. Turn the power back on, or turn the thermostat back up to normal temperature, or turn the gas valve back on and follow the instructions to lighting the pilot.†††† What has happened is the Low Water Cut Off failed to shut off the burner when the water level was too low in the boiler for safe operation. You still should have your Boiler Service Technician take a look at it as soon as possible and fix the problem.
†††† Some Steam Boilers have a float type Low Water Cut Off with a drain valve at the bottom of it. It is good practice to open up the valve and flush it out into a pail every time you go to add water to the boiler. For your peace of mind I suggest that you flush it while the burner is operating. If you have to, before going to the basement to add the water, turn up the thermostat to start the burner to operate. Open up the flush valve to the Low Water Cut Off and as the water in the sight glass drops out of sight, the burner should shut off, and start back up again when you add water back into the boiler and the water level is up to where it should be in the sight glass. If the burner fails to shut off, call your Boiler Service Technician and have the Low Water Cut Off problem fixed. In case you have an auto feed device installed to fill the boiler automatically, it is still good practice to flush out the float type Low Water Cut Off once a week.
If you are heating with Steam and it is very hard to see the water level in the sight glass, have a Qualified Service Technician come and clean it out for you. It should have been done every time the boiler had its yearly cleaning. If you mistakenly over filled your steam system because the sight glass was too dirty, and water is coming out of the radiator steam vents, shut off the service switch and make sure the manual shut off valve is off. If it was off, then it is leaking through and you will need a Qualified Plumber to replace it. Connect a garden hose to the boiler drain on your boiler and drain it down until you see the water level in the sight glass again. Shut off the boiler drain and disconnect the garden hose. Then, turn back on the service switch.
†††† There are many things you could do to help your heating system to operate more efficiently. Some of these simple procedures should be part of the routine boiler cleanings your Service Technician should be doing. One procedure is flushing out the bottom of your steam boiler and also flushing out the returns. This keeps the boiler sludge from building up. If you are heating with steam or circulating hot water, it is a good idea to insulate the steam piping in the basement to make the system a little more efficient. Even insulate the hot water pipes in the basement to your plumbing fixtures. If you have condensation dripping from the cold water plumbing pipes, insulate them as well and it will prevent the mess of water stains on your floor and your possessions.
Install or have installed Set Back Thermostats on your heating and even your cooling systems. They do work and they do save you money in the long run. If you install them yourself, shut off the service switch or the breaker to that appliance before you start. Don't forget to turn it back on when you are completely done.
At least once or twice a year, drain off about 5 gals of water out of the drain at the bottom of your water heater. It will last a lot longer if you do this. It is even recommended in the owner's manual that came with the water heater.
For a Garbage Disposal that has stopped working. There is a tool that comes with the unit that is similar to an Allen Wrench. An Allen Wrench of the proper size can be used in its place. At the bottom of the garbage disposal, in the center is a spot that the tool fits into. MAKE SURE THE POWER IS OFF!!! Insert the tool and rotate it side to side to make sure the motor is not jammed up with anything. Remove the wrench tool from the garbage disposal. Also at the bottom of the garbage disposal is a small red button. This is an electrical reset for the motor. Try pressing it with your finger. It should snap back into place to reset. Make sure the wrench tool is removed from the bottom of the garbage disposal and try to turn the garbage disposal back on. If it works, the problem is solved. If not, call a Professional Plumbing Service Technician to take care of the problem.