Tips on Diagnosing Oil Burner Noises

A furnace with an oil burner is one of the most common heating systems for homes. Being an oil-fired system, it tends to make noises during operation. Not all of these noises mean trouble, however, but here are some tips for diagnosing oil burner noises.

TIP: Check the Source of the Noise

Start by trying to isolate the source of the noise. If you’ve had your furnace for a while or if you’ve had it when it was new, you already have an idea of what each part would sound like. More importantly, you should be able to recognize noises a typical home heating system shouldn’t be making. The oil tank and furnace are two separate units, and you should be able to isolate the source of the noise from the normal operational sounds.

TIP: Identify the Noise

Once you have isolated the source of the noise, try to identify what it is. The electric motor will produce a noise that’s similar to a generator while warm air blowers will sound like a quieter version of a vacuum cleaner. Oil-fired furnaces make less racket, so a whine, rattle or buzz should be identifiable.

Certain sounds may indicate danger and require the immediate attention of an HVAC professional. For instance, a loud bang that happens during startup, followed by a puff of soot and smoke, is often caused by unburned fuel in the combustion chamber. A roaring, freight-train sound, amplified by the chimney, is usually caused by a large chimney fire. In both cases, you should turn off the furnace until a specialist is able to perform an inspection.

TIP: No Noise Can Also Mean Trouble

You should also take note if, on the other extreme, the furnace is too quiet as the furnace may have become non-operational at this point. A blocked chimney flue also tends to dampen normal operational sounds, in addition to keeping toxic fumes inside the house and potentially damaging the burner itself.

Heating Peace of Mind With Sierra Air

To learn more about furnace troubleshooting or for more information about home heating systems in general, call Sierra Air today at (775) 800-5500. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.