LANCASTER, PA - “But I don’t want to go to school.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? I heard myself saying it as I got ready for my 8 a.m. seminar at the Burnham Big Event here at the Franklin & Marshall College Alumni Sports and Fitness Center. But I dutifully trudged up the steps to the opening session of this summertime event.

“If you’re not careful, you’ll learn something,” as Ben Stein would say. Going to summer school here, contractors could learn about hydronic basics as well as new technology.

May I vent?

The early-bird opening seminar was called “Venting Solutions,” presented by Bob Williamson, vice president, sales and marketing, Effikal International, Inc., Orion, MI.

Vent dampers, he said, “can improve [boiler] performance 6 to 7 percent.” They also provide energy savings for the homeowner.

These units allow the chimney to cool between operating periods. They can be installed in a vertical or horizontal position. Stainless steel construction provides corrosion protection. They are designed to operate with 24 vac ignition systems. Wiring harnesses are available for easy installation.

Barometric draft controls assist with a cleaner burn and minimize soot. Again, Williamson emphasized, “There is as much as a 6% drop in efficiency if no damper is used.”

To maintain a constant overfire draft, the damper must be installed in the chimney pipe downstream of the appliance. It meters the right amount of additional air to flow through the chimney.

“The blade is trapped in the pipe and cannot be dislodged or expelled if the boiler ‘burps,’” he noted. The unit can be installed in a vertical or horizontal position.

I could've had a v8

The session called “What’s Under the Hood of the V8?” was presented by Andy Olcott, sales engineer for R.W. Beckett Corp., Elyria, OH.

The new boilers, like Burnham’s V8, are smaller and more efficient, so Beckett updated the AFG burner. Its solenoid supplies cleaner cutoff and the normally closed unit provides added protection. The improved motor with capacitor start needs fewer amps to start, he said.

Limited reset is an attractive feature for those contractors whose customers like to punch reset over and over before they call for service. “For your button pressing customers, it’s three strikes and you’re out,” said Olcott.

Interrupted ignition is quieter and safer. Pre-purge ensures smoother starts. “You don’t get delayed ignition,” he stated.

Finally, with post-purge, “you push everything out when the boiler shuts off.”

Get under control

For the seminar titled “Oil Control Systems Today,” Chip Troost, senior product manager for Honeywell Home and Building Control, Golden Valley, MN, focused on development of the new Flame Quality Indicator that the company will be introducing in the fall.

He noted that Brookhaven National Laboratories did the initial development in conjunction with the Department of Energy (DOE) to assist the fuel oil industry in implementing improvements to oil heating appliances that would enhance performance and reduce service costs.

Research showed that the burner has repeatable characteristics. Prototype controls were built, and in conjunction with Insight Technologies and other oem’s, field testing was begun.

The basic concept is that a miniature computer inside the control looks at the cad cell resistance on a regular basis and compares readings from one cycle to another until it senses a significant change in resistance. Instead of alarming on just one different reading, decision capabilities were incorporated that require more than one cycle to actuate an alarm. DOE patented the device and Insight purchased the first rights to the patent. Insight’s control has been in the marketplace for a couple of years. Honeywell, Insight, and Brookhaven now are proposing a new field test in combination with some advanced monitoring capabilities.

On an average, said Troost, the control “will give an alarm about three days prior to the time the oil primary control would trip out on safety.” Also, it will alarm before extreme sooting occurs, reducing the amount of time on the job cleaning out the appliance.

The newer units “are simpler to install,” he added. Also, “you can connect the alarm terminals to the homeowner’s security system.”

As far as savings, Troost said there are no guarantees but testing indicates on average contractors will save about $17 per year per installed device in off-hours servicing and reduced cleaning of fouled heat exchangers.

At the end of his talk, contractors were invited to sign up to evaluate the control and provide their input to the engineers.