Although you probably don’t think much about it, your furnace’s oil pump is easily one of the most important features in your Louisville, Kentucky home. When this component fails, your first defense against cold weather will no longer function. Being able to identify developing oil pump problems will help you get the timely service your home heating system deserves. Following are three signs of a damaged oil pump along with their possible causes.

1. Excessive Noise

On cold winter days, some heating system noises can be downright comforting. Hearing your furnace tick, hum, or gently whir usually means that this equipment is kicking into action. As oil-fired furnaces age, these and other sounds become increasingly common. However, certain noises are always a cause for concern. This is especially true when they originate at the fuel tank or right near it.

Several noises that are likely indications of oil pump problems include:

  • Loud, pulsating, or vibrating sounds
  • Knocking or thumping noises
  • Persistent rumbling

Rather than being a sign of general wear, the development of these noises usually means that certain parts of the fuel delivery system are improperly sized or incorrectly installed. This may be the case if you’ve recently replaced your heating oil tank, have altered your home’s envelope by adding more insulation or windows, or have changed out the heating system’s oil burner nozzle.

Creating a tighter home envelope by making the building more efficient can alter your furnace’s requirement for nozzle sizes. Thus, even if your oil pump was working perfectly before you invested in efficiency upgrades, there’s a good chance that you’ll need burner nozzle modifications immediately after them.

When these and other strange noises develop at the fuel pump, the underlying problem may be possible to resolve by replacing the current nozzle with one that has a wider spray angle. If thumping is the issue, a solenoid with a delayed opening can be installed on the nozzle instead. The goal is to get a balanced flow of fuel that perfectly meets your home’s heating demands.

2. Smoke and Strong Smoke Odors

There are many reasons why you might see smoke coming from the oil pump when your furnace is on. One of the most common causes of smoke is insufficient furnace and tank maintenance. Build-ups of oil, soot, and grime around the burner’s air handling parts will burn off as the mechanism heats up. Although the resulting smoke isn’t an indication that the burner is broken, it is a sign that damage is impending. Excess dirt in this area can keep the burner from working efficiently. If left unchecked, it can also lead to overheating.

Build-ups of grime and loose materials such as sediment within the oil can eventually cause the oil pump to burn out entirely. The excess heat generated when these substances combust gradually wears this component down. Both the burner tube and the combustion chamber can fail. This may be the problem you’re experiencing if the smoke coming from the oil pump is heavy, dark, and extremely odorous.

Oil burners can also emit smoke when nozzle sizes are wrong. If you have smoke odors or visible smoke near the burner and have problems with excess noise as well, this is likely the case. An HVAC technician can inspect the nozzle and choose the right nozzle size and spray angle for your home, your home’s heating demands, and your heating system.

3. Strong and Unpleasant Odors

Smoke isn’t the only thing that you’ll smell if your furnace oil pump is coated in grime or damaged. It’s not uncommon for these components to emit musty, dusty, and rotten egg odors when they’re having problems. These are smells that often develop due to flue obstructions and other venting problems.

Delayed ignition can be the culprit as well. Delayed ignition often occurs at the fuel pump due to:

  • Damaged or faulty electrodes
  • Cracks in the insulator
  • Blocked nozzles
  • Air shutter issues
  • Incorrect electrode settings

When you suspect problems with your oil pump, it’s always best to put a licensed HVAC company on the job. Timely repairs will keep minor issues from spiraling out of control. They’ll also give knowledgeable professionals the chance to identify problems that may pose a health hazard to building residents.

[Company_name] proudly serves residents of Louisville, Kentucky, and the surrounding area. We provide air conditioner and furnace installation, maintenance, and repairs. We also have an outstanding preventative maintenance program. If you think your furnace’s oil pump is malfunctioning, we can help. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!

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