How to Remove Oil Burner Soot

Written by brandon getty
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How to Remove Oil Burner Soot
Keep your oil burner free of soot for greater efficiency. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Oil burners provide small buildings and residential homes with an inexpensive and environmentally friendly source of heat energy. The heat produced by the burning oil can be dispersed through a home's ductwork or harnessed for other purposes, such as boiling water or powering a water heater. Although the amount of refuse produced by an oil burner is not on the level of a wood- or pellet-burning stove, the ash and soot it does produce should be removed annually to ensure proper function.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Face masks
  • Gloves
  • Hand broom
  • Chimney brushes
  • Shop vacuum
  • Small paintbrush
  • Solvent
  • Rags

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  1. 1

    Put on your face mask and gloves. Check that your work area is well-ventilated and sufficiently lit.

  2. 2

    Check that your burner is removed from its power source and that it is completely cool.

  3. 3

    Open the door of the oil burner's chamber. Begin by brushing off the caked soot on the inside of the door with a hand broom. Avoid using a chimney brush on the door, as some models are fitted with an asbestos gasket.

  4. 4

    Scrape away all of the soot and ash inside of the main chamber -- where the oil is actually burnt -- using chimney brushes.

  5. 5

    Insert the hose of your shop vacuum into the chamber and collect all of the loose soot. Run the hose along the walls of the chamber and the inside of the door.

  6. 6

    Remove the lid of your oil burner to reveal the burner's ignitors, or thin metal rods that protrude from the top of the burner. Depending on your specific burner, tools may be required to remove the lid (typically a socket wrench, Allen keys or Phillips screwdriver).

  7. 7

    Brush away surface soot from the ignitors and surrounding components with a hand broom.

  8. 8

    Dip a small paintbrush into your solvent of choice (white spirit or potent vinegar will suffice) and apply it to the ignitors. Brush the solvent onto the small nozzles at the front of the ignitor tubes. Allow the solvent time to dissolve the soot, applying more if necessary.

  9. 9

    Saturate a rag with solvent and clean away any soot that may be caked on the outside of the burner or objects surrounding it.

  10. 10

    Let all of the solvent dry and evaporate before replacing the lid and using your oil burner.

Tips and warnings

  • Since oil burners vary in style and construction, consult the owner's manual of your particular burner for more specific cleaning instructions.
  • All of the cleaning supplies required for this article can be found at your local home improvement store.
  • Never attempt to clean an oil burner that has been used within the last several hours or that is still connected to a power source.
  • Do not allow children or pets near your work area.
  • Do not leave any containers of solvent near your oil burner once you have finished your work.

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