Boiler locking out after engineer visit to measure tank!

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Good morning

Long story short I replaced my broken oil tank monitor a number of months ago with a smart monitor provided by a popular oil broker. The meter has not been reporting accurate levels so they sent an engineer to measure and get details of the tank to ensure the monitor is calibrated correctly.

The engineer turns up, has a moan that he can't remove the monitor as its been glued on (not true!) and that the tank installation is dangerous as its not supported across its base and when my wife explained that its been like that for a long time he decided to counter that by telling her its clearly been done recently. Well I can tell you now that it was installed around 24 years ago and is fully supported across the entire of the base.

Anyway thinking no more of it we woke up to a colder than normal house and went to run the shower and to our surprise the water was cold. Going to have a look at the boiler the heating and hot water was set to be running on the controller and the pump was circulating nicely but the boiler was dead. Looking behind the front panel and to my surprise the lockout button had popped. I pressed this and the boiler fired but the flow pipe was only getting slightly warm. A couple of mins later the boiler shut down again. I went outside to have a look at the tank and specifically at the oil tank shut off valve and to my surprise while this was not closed it was not fully open either and was very very easy to turn despite the red handle on the top of the valve having long fallen off I could turn this freely by holding the stem. I opened this fully and then nipped it back a fraction. It is without doubt in my mind that the engineer that came out to simply measure a tank and its oil level shut off the oil to my boiler and starved it. It would have certainly been running at the time as our hot water is on continuously and this was not long after the mid morning rush.

Thats the background now comes the ongoing issue! The boiler continued to lockout at random times in the day then did stabilise yesterday. I was running the heating for most of the day to check everything seemed ok. The hot water is now on the immersion. The heating fires this morning and sounds all normal but after around an hour I notice the radiators are cold.... same thing again its locked out!

This boiler has been as solid as a rock for 20+ years and never done this. I must confess it does not have the best service history and this is long overdue but if anyone has any idea what may be happening it would be appreciated. I don't believe that its a pure coincidence that my boiler would develop a fault after 20 years at the exact time someone was fiddling with my oil tank - certainly someone that had an attitude problem and didn't fill us with confidence.

Naturally I am not going to do anything myself that is not considered to be safe for the competent DIY'er but I would applicate if any experts here have any tips or give me any "fuel" to give the company a good talking to.

Thank you in advance
 
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This valve on the tank outlet......did it originally have a red circular wheel to turn it - called a gate valve? For sure, I've never been able to turn the valve stem by hand and I think your first investigation should be to find out if the valve is actually passing kerosine.
Be careful what you undo though, you don't want an oil flood!
At the same time, it's worth checking the filter bowl that should also be there for sediment or water within.
John :)
 
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You can talk all you want to firms but there’s not many who take any notice
of you, just get on with sorting out the prob. If you have a valve inside the boiler take off the oil flexi and gently open the valve after putting a dish underneath it to catch the oil if it flows ok with no sign of water in the oil then you have a fault on the burner so you need an engineer. Try to get a reputable one and see what it is. Bob
 
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This valve on the tank outlet......did it originally have a red circular wheel to turn it - called a gate valve? For sure, I've never been able to turn the valve stem by hand and I think your first investigation should be to find out if the valve is actually passing kerosine.
Be careful what you undo though, you don't want an oil flood!
At the same time, it's worth checking the filter bowl that should also be there for sediment or water within.
John :)

Thank you John

Yes that’s right it is a gate valve (thank you for the correct term!). The boiler has been running at non stop since I posted but it’s cut out now and there’s a bit of an exhaust smell in the garage (not crazy).... I have carbon monoxide detectors all over the house but still I’ll shut it off for now!

I have taken a couple of photos of the valve and what I think is the filter housing.
 

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CB291713-2CE9-48BD-B232-3DEF42FF99B7.jpeg BF65E9ED-3413-4581-8F4B-DCF850621255.jpeg
You can talk all you want to firms but there’s not many who take any notice
of you, just get on with sorting out the prob. If you have a valve inside the boiler take off the oil flexi and gently open the valve after putting a dish underneath it to catch the oil if it flows ok with no sign of water in the oil then you have a fault on the burner so you need an engineer. Try to get a reputable one and see what it is. Bob

Yep I would think your right there Bob, to be honest I’m better of spending effort getting things running again than wasting time going into a battle - doesn’t mean I won’t give them a hard time though

No valve close to the boiler I can see unfortunately.
 
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Yes, thats an elderly gate valve with the hand wheel long gone followed by a Crossland filter with the two bleed valves on the top.
If you do as Bob suggests you’ll see if there is enough kero flowing through the filter and down the pipe.
I’d be very cautious about undoing anything on your set up there, just in case you get a leak which you can’t stop, but if I had to it would be the one one the pipe exiting the filter.
John :)
 
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Understood and yes a leak would probably not be a fun thing to have on a Sunday! Unless there is no major harm in keeping it running and resetting it I’ll try and cope until I can get a reputable engineer to come out. In my mind it was starved of oil and needed a good “run” to sort things out but now I’m not so sure what is causing it other than someone came to look at the tank to measure it and now my boiler is playing up!

Thank you kindly for the suggestions
 
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Looking at that sight gauge I’d say there’s water about as that looks like emulsified oil and water so be careful not to drag any through the fuel pump. Bob
 
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You can close off the tank, and then open the vent screws . Open the tank valve to how it was, and you will soon see if the oil flows, and be able to close the tank off quickly.
If it is now running for a reasonable period before locking out, then the fault could be in anyone of 4 areas, especially if the service is long overdue. The fuel may be contaminated if the tank is 24 years old,(the sight gauge shows signs of this) or the filter could be clogged, the oil pump may have developed a fault ot the photocell may be obscured, or the nozzle may be worn. These can be the cumulative effects of a long period of non service.
Why has it taken several months for you to decide the new gauge is faulty? The only adjustment for these is based on tank depth, and is easily measured and checked. This is something that should have been done when fitted. You need to also adjust the level to the outlet rather than the bottom of the tank as that is about 3-4 ins above the base.
 
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Thanks oilhead and Bob. That’s a fair point about the sight gauge as it was left in the open position (presuming my photo shows it closed) assuming the engineer did this. Maybe that has leaked some water into the fuel and contaminated it.

The problem with the smart meter was it was reporting 350L in the tank when there was more like 100L. I had already provided a “dip measurement” to the company to calibrate it so they sent an engineer to measure the tank. Shortly after this visit the problems with the boiler started so I guessed the engineer shut the oil off while the boiler was in use or maybe tried to get that sight gauge to work and introduced water into the fuel by doing so.

Either way a service is definitely on the cards would just prefer to get though the next few months without visitors to the house due to the current situation.
 
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