Cost of tools to maintain/service oil furnace


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Old 12-17-18, 12:57 PM
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Cost of tools to maintain/service oil furnace

I have an oil, forced warm air furnace. Every year, I pay several hundred dollars for a service plan that includes a yearly tune-up, and covers the cost of certain repairs if something breaks -- insurance, basically. However, I've had issues with no-call, no-show technicians, sloppy service, etc., and I am thinking about ditching the service plan and doing it myself. (The system is quite far out of warranty, so no concerns with voiding anything there).

I'm even willing to go so far as to enroll in the night and weekend HVAC training program at the local community college. I could complete their program for around $1,500. Since I'm paying about $350 a year for my service plan, it's about a five year return on investment. I'm hopeful I'll live at least that long.

However, I have no clue what expenses I'm looking at for the tools to do the work, or even what tools I would need. How much should I expect to spend to equip myself to do the yearly tune-ups and any repair work that comes up?
 
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Old 12-19-18, 01:11 PM
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You could always pay for the maintenance but not get the insurance part of it.

Take the money saved each year, put it in a separate bank account and use it for repairs.

I don't know oil but believe you need a $1000+ combustion analyzer to properly tune them.
 
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Old 12-19-18, 10:38 PM
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I would suggest a combustion test kit for the final adjustments. A sight below will show you some options and a SOOTMASTER vac. Some try to use a shop vac but they are not made for soot, and some cleaning brushes which are cheap.

The rest are basic hand tools unless you're doing something special like ductwork or soldering.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...t+kit&_sacat=0

https://www.bing.com/search?q=sootma...logo=CT3210127

https://www.bing.com/search?q=oil%20...logo=CT3210127

The above sights will show you some options.

Hope this helps a little.
 
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Old 12-20-18, 10:22 AM
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Thanks, Spott. I never even knew there were non-electronic ways to measure gasses like that!

User10, the biggest problem is my lack of faith in their ability to respond. They prioritize customers with a service plan, and they couldn't even get out to those customers in a timely fashion last winter. Without paying for the insurance, I don't know when I would even see a tech.

I know I wouldn't have access to a truck and warehouse full of parts like a company tech, but with the Internet and next day shipping, I'd probably be OK.
 
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Old 12-20-18, 01:26 PM
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Those kits you see on ebay are all we used for years before the electronic ones came out. The electronic ones are expensive and need replacements parts every now and then, namely the O2 sensor that have a life span and for just your self these kits are just as good.

Since I retired I use this kit myself instead of spending money constantly replacing sensors.

What you can do is make a list of parts for your burner. Unless you have a Riello burner, parts the burner motor, pump, transformer are basically standardized and parts you can keep on hand if you cannot attain them easily or quickly.

Nozzles and filters are cheap enough where you can keep multiples on hand. You may want to keep a set of electrodes on hand just in case.

That covers your burner. The controls you can list and look up and decide for yourself but there is generally a way around those for a short time until you get what you need if you have a failure.

Just as an option people that convert to gas or for whatever reason sell there used complete burners for short money on ebay if you see something you are looking for and then you just cannibalize that burner for parts.

If you have to buy on line below is a good sight. Prices are right, fast delivery and you call for info if needed and they deal with the public where some will not if not licensed.

https://www.supplyhouse.com/
 
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Old 12-22-18, 09:50 PM
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Good to know those kits are tried and true. The price is certainly right, compared to the fancy electronics.

I have a Beckett burner, so parts should be pretty common. I checked out that website, and they could get me a lot of things the next day, even with standard shipping. Very good to know!

Thank you, Spott!
 
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Old 12-23-18, 05:45 AM
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SuperSquirrel I worked for a service co. and just the opposite. Cash customers were serviced first, I have been pulled off a call (before I arrived) to go service a cash customer. Co. thought we already have these guys sewed up so push them back. I thought it was wrong but did not run co.
 
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Old 12-23-18, 09:25 AM
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Honestly, that doesn't surprise me. I was fed all sorts of excuses -- there was a computer glitch and we lost your appointment, the tech who was supposed to come out quit unexpectedly, etc. -- but they may have just been swindling me. Even the service plan paperwork used to say, "Service within 24 hours, scheduling ahead of non-service plan customers" now it just says "Priority service."

It just reinforces my belief that nobody cares more about you and your house, car, whatever else, more than you do. It never inspires confidence when you hear a technician grumbling about being overbooked and needing to be done by a certain time.
 
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Old 12-23-18, 09:55 AM
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If you're truly interested in learning about and servicing your own system, remember, nobody will care about you or take better care of your equipment than you.

As much as I hate to say it about our own trade, pride in workmanship seems to have gone right out the window for the most part. It's all about the bottom line and it doesn't matter how it's achieved.
 
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Old 12-23-18, 06:10 PM
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You are absolutely right. And I don't think it's just one trade. Everything now is about more production, more revenue, quicker turnaround, and doing more with less. The options are either, do a quick sloppy job to keep on schedule, or do the job right, and blow your scheduling. I've seen it with car repair, doctor's offices, appliance service, etc.

Thank you for your help and advice.
 
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Old 12-31-18, 06:38 AM
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Setting up an oil fired burner is not as easy at looks. In most cases it takes years of experience to do the job correctly. A little or lot of schooling and a good and expensive combustion analyser does not a service person make. A good service tech experienced in fuel oil service can do a fairly good set up with the naked eye and "yes" years of experience. If you want to opt for a fairly good job and don't want to spend a lot of money, buy a smoke spot tester for around $150.00, But remember there is more to a good job than just good readings. If you want the job done right call a professional and ask for an older person with years of experience. my 2 cents
 
 

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