Our Company Blog

Oil Furnace Flue Cleaning

With the start of the New Year have come bitterly cold temperatures, especially in the Long Island area. Most have rightfully taken shelter indoors, huddling under blankets with the furnace running on high. In order to keep that furnace functioning at its best, it requires some regular maintenance. Experts recommend having a technician service it yearly, but these service calls do not always include cleaning the flue for oil furnaces. If a flue cleaning is not performed, it is important to have it done anyway, even if that means a separate appointment.


When the furnace runs, the burned oil produces a variety of substances, not the least of which is soot. This soot is black and messy, and it is meant to be expelled out of the furnace through the flue. However, as the soot travels through the flue, it often clings to the interior of the flue. Over time, it builds up and can even close off the air flow through the flue. In turn, the toxic flue gases produced by burning oil are forced back into the unit and sometimes into the house. Breathing in these poisons can lead to long term effects like cancer from soot or short term issues like an irritated respiratory tract from carbon monoxide.

Another issue that arises from soot in the flue is the degradation of the flue lining. The carbon and sulfur mixture in the soot mixes with water vapor produced by the fire to form a highly acidic compound. If the flue lining is exposed to this compound for an extended period, it can cause damage. Ceramic flue tiles show damage by splitting, cracking or spalling, and stainless steel flue lining becomes riddled with holes after being eaten away by the acid. Damaged flue lining, no matter the material, can lead to flue gases leaking into the house or even structural damage to the flue. Fortunately, any issues related to soot in the flue can be avoided by having regular cleanings performed.

Not all of the soot vents from the furnace or clings to the flue lining. What does not ends up falling back into the furnace, sitting on vent. As soot is allowed to build up on the vent, the furnace must work harder to force air through the vent. In general, a clogged vent will cost the homeowner more money. It lowers the efficiency of the furnace, costing more in fuel consumption, and it shortens the life of the appliance, which has a significant replacement cost.

If your oil furnace flue has not been cleaned within the past year, or if it appears to need some extra servicing, contact a flue expert to schedule an appointment. For service in the Suffolk County area, contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc..

Proper Maintenance of an Oil-Fired Appliance

Nearly half of fall has already passed by with the arrival of November. Winter is just a few weeks away, and the weather is here to prove it. Long gone are hot afternoons full of shorts and sandals. Instead, most people do not leave the house without bundling up in a jacket and scarf, and everyone has the impending winter season on their minds. Homeowners especially should at least begin turning on their heating appliances to ensure they are in working order, and for those who rely on oil-fired appliances, now is the time to schedule annual servicing. Oil-fired heating systems can consist of boilers with hot water distribution or furnaces with forced air distribution. Both setups contain finely tuned mechanisms that require regular maintenance to keep them working safely and efficiently.


An oil-fired appliance functions by spraying a fine mist of fuel oil into a combustion chamber along with a steady flow of air, and igniting the combination with a spark. The resulting flame creates hot air that heats up the heat exchanger walls before flowing out through the exhaust stack. The heat exchanger walls transfer the heat to the distribution medium (either water or air), which is then forced throughout the home. Boilers utilize this mechanism with the distribution medium of water, and the heated water travels throughout the water pipes in the home to radiate heat in the various rooms. A furnace also uses this mechanism, but it heats up air instead of water, which is blown through ducts to the rest of the house.

Whether the system uses water or air does not affect the fact that the oil-fired appliance will still need servicing. A number of problems can arise with the oil system that requires a professional eye to find and repair. One such problem is an inefficient mixture of air and oil entering the combustion chamber, which can cost extra money every winter in surplus fuel burned. Different situations can cause this problem, such as an old or clogged burner nozzle, an improperly calibrated fuel pump, and incorrectly adjusted air volume and draft controls. While these fixes are simple, they should only be made by a professional to ensure they are done correctly.

Another common issue with oil-fired appliances is failure to create a flame. This can be a result of a variety of problems, and fixing it immediately is crucial to avoid explosions or poisoning. The combustion chamber could be leaking, the stack control may not be functioning properly, or the ignition electrodes might be dirty or broken. A professional can spot and repair these issues quickly and effectively.

If your home utilizes an oil-fired appliance for heating, call to schedule its annual servicing before the temperatures drop any farther. For those living in Suffolk County, New York, you can contact Chief Chimney Services, Inc. for a professional consultation.

By John Pilger on October 30th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Proper Maintenance of an Oil-Fired Appliance