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Oil Burner in the Attic


Kyle Kubs
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Hey All,

Weekend inspection turned up something I have never seen. An oil burning forced air furnace in the attic. It got flagged for several other things, not the least of which was that it was installed horizontal and it was a vertical only, upflow furnace. They even left the oil burner mounted sideways. But as I said I have never seen any oil burning appliance in an attic before and have to wonder if there is a reason for that. I've seen plenty (too many) gas fired forced air systems in the attic, nothing wrong with that, but never an oil burner. I can't find anything in the code about it not being ok and off the top of my head I really can't see anything wrong with it except that it must be a bear to get it primed the first time. Anyone know of other reasons this may not be allowed or is not commonly done?

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Originally posted by zeb

The first thing that comes to mind is the weight of the oil storage. I'm not sure what type of pump would be used if the tank was in another area. Do you have any pics?

275 gal. of oil in the attic...Ouch No,the storage tank was outside at ground level as is typical. No pump, save the one in the burner that usually does the job. Not really different then having an inground tank that is supplying oil to a first or second floor utility room, as long as the line doesn't lose prime it can lift the oil.

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thats a huge lift with oil. With water to get 150 psi for a 1 1/2" line ( fire dept. fog nozzel)you need to add 10 psi per floor. water is less than 10 lbs per gal. Not sure what oil weighs. Maybe the unit was in another location and then moved and converted in the attic. Poor judgement anyway.

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If someone's going to bring fireground hydraulics into this, let's do it right. You add 5psi per floor(10ft) above the pumping engine, not 10psi. Flow doesn't matter; nozzle doesn't matter; tip pressure doesn't matter. Also, I've never heard of a nozzle operated at 150psi. If it's a 2-story house, the burner is in the attic, and the tank is at ground level, the pump will have to add an additional 10psi to compensate for the two-story lift. That's approximate, of course.

I never see oil appliances, so I don't know what pressure the oil pumps work at, but I think maintaining the prime would be a greater problem.

I figure the east coast guys might have something to offer on the real question: why is it not usually done? I'm very curious. If Kyle, a Jersey guy, has never seen it, there has to be a reason.

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I've only found one. The installation manual was available and clearly stated: "This down-flow furnace is not intended for attic installations", so it was an easy call.

I don't remember anything specifically prohibiting it, but I'll try to find my NFPA 31. (Anyone looking at oil systems should have a copy. I should also update my '97 edition)

Oil burner pumps probably operate between 100 & 200 psi into the nozzle for atomization. I don't know what they can pull. If a line pump is installed, pressure at the supply inlet to the appliance can only be 3 psi or less.

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