This is a follow-up to the article called “Lazy Servicemen” and keep the comments coming, it’s nice to know there’s life out there. Most criticisms I received were about my pump technique and these specific comments:
“By coming in through the bottom I leave the cover hole open and my cover is easy to get off. On tune-ups the cover comes right off. With the cover hole available I have a place to easily install a vacuum gauge on troubleshooting calls. And with the cover hole available, I have a way to fill my pump before bleeding and power purging.”
I’ve written a bunch of words on proper filtration and things that make nozzles and filters work and more importantly not work as we thought they would. OEMs and others print millions of words to show us how to install and properly use their products, but many would rather follow the teachings of some guy who has never set foot in a classroom and done it all by the seat of his pants. That may be okay with you, but in these days of liability and litigation a very dangerous path to walk. If you do it the OEMs way you stay out of trouble and make money, it’s that simple.
Anyway, here it is. A few told me that they didn’t agree with my coming in through the bottom since they had pumps plug at the opening. They removed the piping and found it plugged. Okay, but look at the drawing in Figure 1. Notice that the opening has a taper and in fact does slow down the flow of fuel at the opening, but what’s that got to do with it plugging? That taper is in fact a trap and in many cases it did its job and that dirt didn’t make it into the pump and damage or destroy it. In other words, more protection for the pump.
Now the solution is filtration again, double, triple, high square surface area, low micron rating, proper GPM flow, better filtration. It’s not the pump or bottom piping that’s at fault, but rather old, antiquated, inadequate, not even close to reality, obsolete filters. I did speak to a few of you on the phone and my guess is that they mirrored most of you that objected, but again pay attention and my thanks to those again for asking questions.
“I disagree with your pump piping and it’s because of the pump piping plugging, etc., etc., etc.,” most said.
“Okay,” I responded, “but what kind of filter is on the job and how many?”
“An FB4 and there’s only one,” most say, and there’s the problem.
Look at Figure 2. These are all replacement cartridges for the venerable FB4. The second from the left, in the line-up, is the original with a filtration capacity of 40 micron. To the left of it is a ‘gear type’ coming in at 25 micron, a better filter simply because it filters smaller pieces of debris. The two on the right are both 10 micron, so the question for an owner or manager should be, “Why not just buy the felt type?” Because that’s only part of the story. The one on the far right is an element comparable to that which is in a spin-on filter and there lies the answer.
Although the felt type will filter to the same level another key piece to selecting the right filter has to do with ‘square surface area’ or how much filter is put up against the flow of oil and everything in it. The comment I hear all the time is, “Holy cow! That spin on type element is four to five times the cost of the felt. That’s expensive!” Not really. Remember your parents and others teaching you that you get what you pay for? Well, they were right! You see the surface area of the felt type is 85 square inches, but the spin on is 500 square inches, so you do get what you pay for and if you don’t buy the best, your service contract budget and your customers pay the price.
Fuel quality has been an issue for over 90 years and the bad news is it isn’t going to improve soon. Most seem to think that biofuels and ULS by themselves will save the oilheat industry. In my opinion, they’re wrong because even together they won’t. As many, including Brookhaven, use to say, “We’re losing this in the basements” because if the customer’s burner isn’t running worth a damn, the fuel doesn’t matter! The most difficult problem for the oilburner service industry has been the simplest to fix!
The solution is not the fuel make-up or better burner service or better customer relations, it’s using all of it and making a lot less service as far as the consumer is concerned! “Propane and pipeline gas doesn’t have these problems,” have you ever heard that?
Finally, I’ve preached about additives for a long time and those that use them have fewer problems. I’ve also preached about double and triple filtration even longer and yet we keep nickel and diming ourselves to oblivion. If you follow the OEM’s wishes, do it right, get down in the dirt and get lazy and truly frugal. You’ll find that better filters not only pay for themselves, but save customers too and don’t blame us lazy servicemen for trying to do it right!
*George Lanthier is the owner of Firedragon Enterprises, a teaching, publishing and consulting firm. He is an industry trainer and the author of over 25 books on oilheating and HVAC subjects.
He can be reached at 608 Moose Hill Road, Leicester, MA 01524. His phone is 508-421-3490, fax at 508-421-3477 and his web-site and chat room can be found at www.FiredragonEnt.com