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Discuss Oil Smell from Warmflow, Whitebird 70/90 Boiler in the Oil and Solid Fuel Forum area at UKPlumbersForums.co.uk.

  1. Peter Bichener

    Peter Bichener New Member

    This boiler is 13 years old and housed in the downstairs WC. Recently it began to smell strongly of oil (I don't think fume, see later) my engineer could find nothing wrong. We went away for two weeks and the boiler was turned off; on our return the smell was very very bad (obviously not fume). I removed the front cover and the flexible hose joining the copper supply pipe to the boiler was wet with oil (I guess previously it just evaporated when the boiler was warm). The leak was not big enough to cause any puddle. The engineer replaced the flexible a week ago but the smell persists. I have let the boiler cool for 12 hours plus and when the pipe work (that I can get at) is cool it is completely dry to the touch but the smell persists. The engineer is returning tomorrow but on the phone he is mystified. Can anyone give me a steer as to where he should look. I am NOT going to touch any boiler workings myself!
    Thanks, Peter
     
  2. ShaunCorbs

    ShaunCorbs S. Mod Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

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  3. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Don`t do oil however dabbing dry tissue paper around any joint shows up any liquid leak no matter how small.
     
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  4. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    The leak might be inside the boiler casing.
    However, when wa the last service?
    Did they change the nozzle, it should be changed once a year as well as the filter. You could check all visible pipeworks from the tank to the boiler. Check around the tank is there anything visible. You should get someone from OFTEC as the fumes aren't very healthy.
    The issue with oil is it will go through anything even concrete and tiles (if there is a leak) walls. You really need to find the source where it's coming from. Maybe sniff around and try locating the strongest area to then find the issue. Perhaps the fumes backing up inside the property , did your plumber check carbon monoxide?


    Where is the tank located ?

    There are really only two places the oil smell can come from. The oil burner or the tank/lines. So if for instance the tank is located outside it will eliminate the tank unless there is a leak there.
    Does your boiler misfire ? This could be an issue too or something wrong with the flue itself.
    Boiler should be checked for any small weep.
    Last service,when was that?

    How does the flame look like is it more blue ish or yellow and dancing around ? Did the plumber test combustion with his analyser ?

    Kind regards

    Ron
     
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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  5. Peter Bichener

    Peter Bichener New Member

    Ron

    Thanks for the comprehensive reply; answers to your questions:
    Boiler was serviced in September, I don't don't know if the nozzle or filter were changed.
    The oil tank is outside and very remote from the house.
    I don't think it is fumes as it was at it worse when we returned from two weeks away with the boiler completely off the whole time. Also I have had the boiler off all day and the windows and door open and the smell persists (albeit not as strong) so I don't think it is fume.
    There is no misfire.
    The engineer did test combustion in September but not since, not sure about carbon monoxide, I have an alarm (for a wood burner) I can put that in the room with the boiler.
    I can't see the flame.
    I have tried sniffing around but the smell is so strong I really can't tell anything.
    I appreciate oil can soak into tiles and the floor but the boiler has a steel tray at the bottom and even when I found the flexible hose was damp to the touch there was no evidence of oil beneath it.
    When I first had the engineer back he only checked pipe work and, apart from a plastic cover didn't dismantle anything. When I found the pipe was damp with oil both he and I thought we'd found the root cause.
    I hope when he comes tomorrow he will look in a bit more detail. I shall be keeping the door to the WC that houses the boiler closed to maximize the smell for his benefit!
    Thanks, Peter
     
  6. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    If the smell persists, you'll definitely have an issue at the burner or the supply pipes from the tank to the burner.
    Perhaps, improperly installed nozzle (leaking)?! There must be something visible if that's so persistent.
     
  7. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Hello Peter. What sort of burner is it on your boiler?
    As Ron (Matchless.plumb) mentioned, kerosine can soak into concrete floors etc and take a few days for the smell to disappear.
    As you say you hadn't been using the boiler for a while and still had smell of oil, then probably not the nozzle loose.
    A few things for your engineer to consider, - if the oil line is buried beneath the floor, then it could be perished, perhaps even close to boiler and leaking below the floor. It usually won't show on surface, but can smell. Hopefully also no joints are below ground level (and soldered joints are not allowed anymore, plus leaded solder joints will eventually leak with kerosine pipes.)
    Have all joints checked carefully including at oil tank because a leak there can travel towards boiler if oil pipe is inside a sleeve pipe.
    Finally, your oil pump could have a leak, either at some of the connections and parts, or at the seal at shaft (hidden) and best usually to have brand new oil pump fitted by an oil engineer only.
    Edit, - When I mention the oil pipe can be perished, that includes a copper oil line that would appear to be well protected and installed. Copper oil pipes will leak from the inside if water and crud can enter the oil line from oil tank and open oil tube sight gauges
     
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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  8. Gazzt

    Gazzt Active Member

    If its a warmflow most likey riello rdb burner. Start at the tank and work towards the house as mentioned in other replys, check any fire valves especially wheel head type which leak. Check oil pump especially pump pressure adjustment it can leak. Also one last place is get the engineer to check the solenoid valve is shutting the oil off correctly, if dirt is holding it open oil will seep into the boiler gradually causing a smell. Please keep us updated if you source the problem.
     
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  9. Gazzt

    Gazzt Active Member

    If your not using your boiler, turn the oil off at the tank valve, just incase there is a leak in the pipework. It will help prevent contamination until you source the fault.
     
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  10. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    If there's nothing visible then I would get an Engineer to check the pump over as Best said. The shaft which is hidden from view could leak. The Oil has had changes made to it over recent years and some older pumps are not lubricated as well as they should be by the new standard of oil. Worth getting it checked.
     
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  11. Gazzt

    Gazzt Active Member

    If its a riello g40 the air hydraulic ram can leak oil as the rubber seal can perish.
     
  12. Peter Bichener

    Peter Bichener New Member

    Thanks for the three replies from Best, Gazzt and Last Plumber.
    The burner is an R.B.L model RDB1 70 -90
    The copper pipe comes under ground from the tank, I presume it is sleeved all the way, it is at the start.
    It comes up out of the ground and then through the wall of the house and, fortunately, is above the floor all the way to the boiler. Unfortunately the gap between the wall and the boiler means I can't reach the pipe all the way to the point of entry but there are no unions, the pipe appears dry and is dry as far as I can reach.
    The fire valve is outside of the house.
    I shall make sure the engineer checks all the items you mention.
    Thanks, Peter
     
  13. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!


    Let us know how you go on please
     
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  14. Gazzt

    Gazzt Active Member

    I know this might sound strange, but is there any oil smell coming from the toilet ( if there is a toilet beside the boiler). And is your property attached to other properties, just thinking it could be leaking from another property into a drain and you could be getting the smell through the toilet. I might be way off but just a thought.
     
  15. Peter Bichener

    Peter Bichener New Member

    Gazzt
    Thanks but definitely not the toilet. We are on our own septic tank, the only smells from the toilet are the normal ones! Preferable to oil fumes....just!
     
  16. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    I love the smell of Kerosine.
    It is like aftershave on me.
    I can barely detect Kerosine smell unless strong or in a confined space, especially my van if any oil rags are left overnight. Serious in a heated room though
     
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  17. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    I tend to burn them in a baking tray outside rather than leave em in the van.
     
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  18. lame plumber

    lame plumber Guest

    basically you will either have an issue on the burner somewhere, a careful check can find one there or your oil line is weeping, that needs a pressure test to prove if it is or isn't. if your lad is knowledgeable, and he has set the burner up right, any issues with flue seals failing or otherwise should have been picked up. Dont go hunting for dancing yellow flames, not all internet advice is that reliable
     
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  19. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    I love the smell too though:) since when you are not allowed anymore to solder the pipes for oil? I believe we can still solder in Germany. So you are using instead compression ?
     
  20. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Thought it was flared fittings on oil, could be wrong or is that old hat now.
     
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  21. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    The fumes can be dangerous and may signal a crack or misalignment in your oil burner, so I'd suggest checking that too.
    Have you got a oil leak alarm installed?
    What oil tank ypdo you have, is it double wall or single wall ?
    Did you check the vegetation around your tank, can you see any loss or changes?
    Did you check for oily sheen in your basement or waste?

    How does the separator look like, is there a lot of water or condensation it could be a sign of a leak.

    As @Best@Best mentioned check for rust around the pipes as well as the oil pump.

    I'm looking forward to know what it was.

    Kind regards
    Ron
     
  22. Gazzt

    Gazzt Active Member

    Soldered joints are forbidden by oftec because solder joints can fail if fire breaks out, flared joints and compression are approved methods.
     
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  23. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    No soldering allowed as far as I know on oil lines.
    Frankly I think that is a rule too far, because there are some instances where soldering (with lead free solder) would be a good job, - like where you have no choice but to connect to an existing underground copper oil line where an oil tank has to be moved. Regs are for if there was a fire then no soldered fittings to melt, but there is always plenty of other weak spots.
    Leaded solder joints will eventually leak after a lot of years as the kerosine attacks the solder
     
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  24. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    But what about gas then ? They would fail too wouldn't they?
     
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  25. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Spot on Ron! But your logic won't be used by the people that make the regs! :) I have always thought that about copper gas pipes
    But we have to respect the rules that would be suitable for a brand new entire job. Obviously an oil pipe should be all in one piece with no joints below ground, and only the minimum above ground at oil tank and firevalve to burner. And therefore no soldered joints should have been allowed. But on existing work on some occasions, I disagree with the regs.
    Too many people however, bend the rules. No need for solder joints on new work anyhow
     
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  26. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    How does the fire valve look like have you got a link ? Maybe I know what it is but cannot remember.
    Sure Gary, we can only stick to the rules and personally I would not bend the rules. I would love to work on oil boiler but being in London is a bit tricky to work on them. It's no point for me doing the oftec now, but maybe in the future. I can only agree the pipe should be in piece without having joints under the ground.
     
  27. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

  28. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    That's a nice looking piece of kit and I am sure it isn't cheap!
    I can't read German and just wondering the details of that.
    It is only domestic oil work mainly for me and I use Coopers type paper element oil filters nowadays normally.
    The firevalves are usually Teddington KBB remote firevalves.
     
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  29. ShaunCorbs

    ShaunCorbs S. Mod Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    (£46 plus deliy)
     
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  30. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    They are not expensive, around £47 but these work absolutely great though. You can use the, in both domestic and commercial. It has got an automatic AAV
    Read here the advantages and what's included. I am sure you'll like it. Next time try installing this one. You can get that for single and double line

    AFRISO-EURO-INDEX - Optimised fuel oil de-aerator FloCo-TOP-2
     
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  31. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    We also use a special paint for tank rooms against oil so oil cannot penetrate through the tank ground and will stay inside the tank. It will not harm the environment neither the manholes. Etc. Do you use things like that too ?
    Heizölstopp Farbe für Tankräume, wasserbasierend, mit TÜV Zertifikat, grau u. rotbraun Farbenhaus Metzler

    We also used to use cat litter when working with oil so in case you spilled a little oil it will soak the oil and won't go into the ground.

    Oil burners — Weishaupt

    The Mercedes in Berlin for installing an oil burner, top range boiler. An absolute beast
     
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  32. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Cat Litter I have bought and used before. I thought I was the only person who had the idea! :smile:
    Special paint to seal against oil, great job, but I never have needed it.
     
  33. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    You see Gary, you aren't alone with the cat litter idea :) it may sound silly but works great :)
    The paint it great, I remember when we had services to do we had to make sure that the tank room is fully painted and not cracked/crumbled. Basically, we painted the walls 1m above the floor, and then the whole floor, so nothing will go into the ground.

    IMG_1470.jpg
     
  34. Peter Bichener

    Peter Bichener New Member

    Thanks for all the advice. I didn't expect my original post to generate a discussion on cat litter and boiler room paint!
    Some of you asked me to report on the resolution of the problem.
    The engineer came today, the boiler had been off for 5 hours and when he felt around the pump casing he got some oil on his finger. Taking note of your advice I asked if it was an idea to replace the pump but he thought not. He removed the pump and burner assembly and checked the tightness of all the nuts. There was no further leaks during the 30 mins or so he was here so he said he couldn't really understand where the smell was coming from. He suggested we see if the smell clears in the next few days. I am no heating engineer but I did work for over 40 years in engineering companies and based on my experience he hasn't done enough to fix the problem. The smell has been there for sometime getting gradually worse. I am well aware how little oil is needed to make the smell and I suspect when the boiler is running the very small weep of oil evaporates quickly. You will recall (my original post) that after a two week holiday the flexible hose was wet with oil; I now believe this was tracking down from the oil pump; it wasn't much but the smell was dreadful. Next week I shall be looking for a new engineer; any suggestions for North Shropshire?
    Thanks for all the suggestions, Peter
     
  35. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Thinking that is the right move Peter, maybe a new post "Oil boiler engineer wanted, North Shropshire" as this thread maybe overlooked now.
     
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