Beginning in 2012 Firedragon will be doing a lot more gas seminars as well as our oil seminars. Don’t get upset, it’s something we have to do to survive and evolve. In addition, I’m not defending myself I’m just going with the flow and the flow is energy. Gas, oil, who cares as long as it’s heating.
We are working on these courses now and may have more as the demand dictates: Advanced Carlin Gasburner Workshop, Advanced RIELLO Gasburner Workshop, Servicing Gas Conversion Burners, Oil to Gas Conversion Workshop and Getting New Gas Installs Right the First Time and it’s that last one I want to focus on for this article. Now, some of you are probably still sitting there saying, ‘A gas article in Fuel Oil News?”
Well, consider these two facts: the first is that the largest oil company in the oil business is owned by a propane company and second, 80 percent of all New England propane dealers sell oil, so the question is why not?
When I started in this business in the USAF, I did as much gas as oil, but ended up doing more oil throughout my career. So most think of me as an oil guy and I am, but if you’re going to be in the heating business down the road you have to be an ‘energy marketer” or a ‘Btu merchant”. If you want to hang all of your future on one peg, it is probably time to say good-bye.
While building these seminars, I’ve seen a lot of similarities and have to tell you that a good oil tech will probably make a great gas tech. First of all we know and are use to testing. Gasfitters and plumbers have not seen the need to test, but they’re learning and it’s at the school of hard knocks! A lot of the mistakes on gas have direct similarities to the biggest boo-boos on oil.
Draft, holy moly and you gotta be kidding me! What is it about this subject people don’t get? I’ve seen guys play pump pressures up and down, go through a box of different nozzles and try every other trick in the book and still end up with their head up their butt. If the draft is not right, everything else is a waste of time. Is that also true of gas? You bet, and in some cases even more so because gas doesn’t burn as hot and it produces a lot more water vapor. Draft and the venting process is a major part of the combustion process, it has to be right!
Remember this quote from so many of my articles over the last 20 years and from my book Advanced Residential Oilburners?
‘Faulty draft conditions cause more flame and combustion problems than any other single factor.”
Although that statement was first made in a manual on the installation of the low-pressure Williams Oil-O-Matic oil burner published in the 1930s, it has never been more accurate than it is today about setting up any burner because, please pay attention, nowhere in that statement is the fuel being burnt mentioned.
Draft continues to be the most misunderstood and the most important factor to deal with when setting up any burner, oil or gas and even a coal stoker for that matter and yet oil guys keep screwing it up running in parallel with the gas guys. If you don’t own a draft gauge, buy one or even better buy a digital manometer that you can use for monitoring and setting your draft conditions and gas pressures. Yup, one good gauge, can do most of it if you work with gas, the other is a gas analyzer and that doesn’t have to be electronic, but why not?
Speaking of pressures, many of you who are already doing oilburner setups wouldn’t think of setting oil pressure without a pressure gauge and yet some people think all burners are set perfect from the factory. That every oilburner pump pressure is ‘purfuct”(sic), that every gasburner is set right on regardless of the gas inlet pressure and that the correct manifold pressure is set at the factory. You need to wake up, that just isn’t reality.
You can’t trust anyone but yourself with your future and if you haven’t heard the oil business is going to the dogs and if you don’t become an Alpha puppy, you will just be another in the pack. If you want to survive you have to be better than the rest; it’s just the way it is.
Every day, I get calls asking ‘Do I really need an analyzer?” You’re kidding, right? Look, no magic bullet is going to save the oil business, nothing, n-o-t-h-i-n-g! Stop believing all of the hype and get close to your customers. If you want to keep them you must service their burner better than anyone else because it’s already been proven over and over, anybody can deliver oil.
Buy an analyzer, a good one, not the cheapest, remember you get what you pay for, and learn how to use it. Nothing sets up a burner, gas or oil, faster than an analyzer, so yes you need one. If you come to our classes (oil or gas) we can show you how to do that and even tell you what you need.
Learn all you can about draft and venting, setting pressures (oil and gas) and if you get those items right the rest of your setup on gas or oil will be one you can be proud of, will make for a happy customer, and make you money.
Finally, in my opinion only three things are going to save the oil business: great customer relations, fantastic burner service and conservation. All the rest is just consultants and gurus taking your money and padding their pockets while they lead many of us along with their feel good crap, period!
*George Lanthier is the owner of Firedragon Enterprises, a teaching, publishing and consulting firm. He is the author of over 40 books and manuals on HVAC subjects and can be reached at 608 Moose Hill Road, Leicester, MA 01524. His phone is 508-421-3490, fax at 508-421-3477 and his website can be found at www.FiredragonEnt.com