DIY: Cleaning the Oil Boiler

Written by sal marco
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DIY: Cleaning the Oil Boiler
You must clean your oil boiler regularly to maintain performance. (campfire image by Galyna Andrushko from

An oil-fired boiler or furnace accumulates dirt, dust, debris and soot, reducing its ability to heat your home. In order to maintain top performance, an oil-fired furnace requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Cleaning is necessary once a year in order to save money on heating costs and keep your furnace running smoothly. This general cleaning is no substitute for a professional tune-up and safety inspection.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Scrub brush
  • Rag
  • Wire brush or toothbrush
  • Vacuum
  • Crevice tool attachment

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  1. 1

    Shut off the oil supply valve usually located along the oil supply pipe.

  2. 2

    Turn off the electrical power. Look for the switch with a red plate around it at the top of the basement stairs or near the furnaces.

  3. 3

    Lift and remove the access panel or use a screwdriver to remove screws holding the panel in place on the furnace.

  4. 4

    Remove and replace the furnace air filter even if it does not look dirty. The filter is made of mesh and framed in cardboard, and slides in and out of place. Exactly match the size and type of filter.

  5. 5

    Use a dry scrub brush to brush soot and ash off the blower, which is located just behind the furnace filter and looks like a fan. Wipe with a rag and use a small wire brush or toothbrush to brush off soot and dirt from hard-to-reach places.

  6. 6

    Wipe down the blower motor behind the blower with a clean rag.

  7. 7

    Scrub the vent fins on the furnace with a dry scrub brush.

  8. 8

    Vacuum off all services and bottom of the furnace with a crevice tool attachment.

  9. 9

    Place the access panel back in place and tighten screws if applicable.

  10. 10

    Turn the electric on and open the oil supply valve.

Tips and warnings

  • Schedule service appointments yearly to thoroughly inspect and maintain the boiler or furnace.
  • Inspect the interior for broken and damaged wires and parts while it is open.
  • Hire a professional to change the oil filter, clean and adjust the oil burner.

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