Here is an answer to an often asked question. Oil Burner Electrodes can vary from furnace to furnace and are not always obvious with the furnace burner and serial number as burners are sometimes exchanged by service professionals from the original. Therefore the electrodes might have been changed and need to be matched with that burner. Sometimes burners change within model numbers too. We have found the best way to find which oil burner electrodes you need to purchase is to match the electrodes by shape and size. We do not have a simple way to identify them from your oil burner model number.
Please be advised that our shopping cart estimates some products. These are mostly large items that require either freight delivery or can not be sized correctly shipping via UPS. We try to set estimates to be close to what actual shipping costs are, but there are times where we just have to guess.
When we get the order with estimated shipping on it, we determine the exact shipping charges and if it is under the estimate, we will ship it and adjust shipping charges to match the actual cost. We will refund the difference between what the shopping cart authorized and the actual cost.
If the actual shipping charges are more than the estimate, we contact you (via email and/or phone) to get your approval before we ship. If you paid with a credit card, we also have to get your credit card information, for our staff does not have access to your credit card information. We do this for security reasons.
The problem occurs when we can’t reach you or you provided invalid contact information. In this case we are stuck between a rock and shipping truck. If the order appears to be time sensitive, we feel badly that we have to hold up the order to resolve the additional shipping costs. You can help by providing correct contact information, making sure you listen to our voice messages and make sure our emails do not end up in your spam trap.
We continually work to improve our shopping cart in order to avoid this dilemma, but until we resolve it, be advised your order may be delayed.
Submersible Water Pumps, 2 or 3 Wire. What is the Difference?
Submersible pumps, the kind of pump that goes in your well or cistern, are available with two wire motors or three wire motors. There is also another ground wire which is not counted, so if you look at the pump the actual number of wires will be three or four. The two wire pump will have two black wires and one green ground wire. The three wire pump has a black, red, yellow and green wire.
You are probably thinking, “That’s nice, but what is the difference to me?” The main difference is the three wire pump uses a separate control box which includes a capacitor and relay to start the pump. The control box is located inside your house or pump house. The two wire pump does not use a control box. Everything is built inside the motor of the pump. All motors larger than 1 ½ HP are only available in the three wire version because you need the control box to start the heavier motors. Most residential pumps are smaller horsepower. Our top selling pump is just ½ HP.
Many years ago we sold mostly three wire pumps. We believed that having a separate control box above the well would sometimes save people the time and expense of pulling the pump when they experience a problem. If the problem is in the control box it is a simple and relatively inexpensive fix to replace the box, as opposed to pulling the pump and replacing the motor or whole pump. This is the main advantage of the three wire pump. Then, probably 25 years ago, a local plumbing contractor insisted he had far fewer problems with two wire pump systems. We slowly shifted to selling more two wire pumps and our experience seemed to agree with the contractor’s observations. Also, two wire pumps are less expensive, the wire used to install them is less expensive and the installation is easier because you do not have to wire through the control box. Of the pumps we now sell, at least 90% of them are two wire.
Which size wire and breaker do I need for an electric water heater?
The wire and breaker size depend on which heating elements are in your water heater. Find the watt rating for the elements. This rating is usually on a tag on the side of the water heater. It is also printed on the elements. You can find the elements on the side of the heater under a plate attached with one or two screws.
For elements up to and including 2500 watts, the minimum wire size would be 12 gauge. With 12 gauge wire, use a 20 amp breaker or fuse. For elements over 2500 watts you must use 10 gauge wire and a 30 amp breaker or fuse. It is important to match the wire size to the correct breaker or fuse. The breaker protects the wire from overheating. You can use 10 gauge wire for lower wattage water heaters. If you are running wire for a new water heater, it is a good idea to use 10 gauge so that you are covered for any water heater you might buy in the future.
You can find wire on our web site at: https://keithspecialty.com/elec.cable_wire.htm
How Do I Determine Which Element I Need for My Electric Water Heater?
If you run out of hot water faster than you used to, have only lukewarm water or no hot water at all, it is possible that one of the elements needs to be replaced. How to accurately diagnose a faulty element is a topic of another post. This post assumes you have already determined that you need new elements. It discusses how to determine which element you need and how to replace them.
There are two types of elements found in the majority of water heaters: a flanged element or a screw-in threaded element. There are some other types on older heaters, but they are becoming very rare.
Always turn off the power supply to the water heater and drain the water from the tank before working with the elements. Most water heaters have two elements while some have only one. The elements are located on the side of the tank behind a metal plate attached with one or two screws. Remove the plate. There will be two wires attached to the element. Loosen the screws and remove the wires. Don’t worry about remembering which wire went to each screw, it doesn’t matter. It will now be obvious which element you have. If you see four bolts, it is a flanged element. Remove the bolts and pull the element straight out. If you have a screw-in element, you will see a single large hex head on the element. A 1 ½” deep socket can be used to remove the element or you can purchase an element socket wrench.
The wattage and voltage will be printed on the head of the element. Some elements will have two different listings such as 3500W at 208V and 4500W at 240V. Use the larger number when ordering. You may want to replace both elements while you have the tank drained, even if only one is bad now.
Important reminder! After installing the new element, always refill the tank with water before turning the power back on. Open a faucet while you fill the tank to be sure there are no air pockets remaining inside the water heater. Since elements are made to be submersed in water, they will burn out in seconds if you turn on the power to the tank before it fills completely.
Other informational sources:
What is a limit switch and why does it shut off my furnace?
The limit switch is a small, silver bi-metal disc about the size of a dime or quarter which turns off the furnace if the temperature inside the furnace gets too hot (see another example) It is a safety device and should not be disabled or bypassed. Limit switches do go bad sometimes, especially if the furnace routinely overheats. However, you should try to determine why your furnace is getting too hot before you replace the switch. An overheated furnace is usually the result of inadequate air flow through the furnace or a furnace that is too large for the building. An overheated furnace is not only inefficient, it will shorten the life of the heat exchanger in the furnace.
The first thing to check is your registers. Make sure all registers are open and not blocked by furniture or other items. Be sure the filter in the furnace is clean. If you have recently added air-conditioning to your system, it may be possible to increase the blower motor speed. Get a furnace technician to do this if you are unsure how to safely change the speed.
If you have tried all of the above and replaced the limit switch but the furnace still overheats, the size of your ductwork or furnace is suspect. Do you have at least as much cold return air coming back to the furnace as there is warm air going to the home? If not, add more cold air runs or increase the size of existing runs. You may also need more warm air runs to get the heat away from the furnace. The main trunk or ductwork may be too small to handle the needed air flow. Call a trusted HVAC technician to do a heat loss and/or heat gain assessment for your house to see if the ductwork and furnace are properly sized.
More information can be obtained at the links below:
More about high limit switches at furancecompare.com
Interesting forum entry regarding limit switch on DoItYourself.com
Duct tape, ductboard tape, flex duct tape-what is the difference?
You might have heard the joke that all a DIY person needs is duct tape and WD40. If something is supposed to move and doesn’t, use the WD40. If it moves and isn’t supposed to, use the duct tape!
Before the advent of fiberglass ductboard and insulated flex duct, gray cloth duct tape was pretty much all we needed for tin ductwork and a million other uses around the home, and it is still great stuff to have on hand. Today there is also ductboard tape, sometimes called aluminum foil tape, as well as flex duct tape.
As the name implies, ductboard tape was designed to construct and seal fiberglass duct work. This tape is pressure sensitive which means you must go over it with a small squeegee to make a good seal. Ductboard tape is available with or without the UL 181 approvals. The UL 181 is clearly marked on the outside of the tape and must be used when the ductwork will be inspected. Surprisingly, the non-UL 181 tape has a higher adhesion rating than the UL 181 approved tape. Most of our local contractors prefer the nonlisted tape unless a job must be inspected. Our flex duct tape is a very sticky, black tape designed to bond, protect, hold and patch flexible duct pipe. Flex duct tape is not recommended for metal duct.
Now you can get the right tape for the right job. We will discuss the WD40 later!
Often we are asked how many BTU’s are in a foot of baseboard heating.
To answer this, the following must be considered: is the baseboard heating system electric, steam or water? For this post we limit it to hot water baseboard.
Finding (1) the temperature and rate of the water passing through the baseboard, (2) the size of the copper tube and (3) the specifications of the baseboard from the manufacturer will provide a more precise answer.
We sell Argo Low Trim II baseboard which can produce 570 BTU/hr at a water temperature of 180 degrees, at a pump rate of 1 gal per minute. You can find this information at Argo’s website for Low Trim II.
This amount of BTU’s per foot, combined with a heat loss calculation, can determine how many feet of baseboard are needed to heat a room. Heat loss calculation is a complicated number to determine. It involves knowing the average outside winter temperature, how the room is insulated, square footage of the room, and number of windows and doors. There are heat loss software programs that are used to input all the variables to get a result of BTU’s required to heat a room or house. One can use a rough estimate of 50 BTUs/hr per square foot. Keep in mind that a rough estimate is just that, an estimate.
An example is that if you have a room that is 20 x 24 and are trying to determine the amount of baseboard, a rough estimate of BTU’s required would be (24×20) *50 BTU’s/hr = 24000. The number of baseboard feet would be 2400 / 570, or 42 ft of Argo baseboard.
Baseboard is often installed under windows. Can you guess why? Look for future posts to get the answer.
Links that provide more information:
You just had city water installed, and now your hot water tank is leaking out of the relief valve! The following information will provide steps to help you solve the problem.
The first rule to remember is that as water is heated, it will expand. Before getting city water you likely had a pump and cold water expansion tank in your house. As the water heater did its job, the expanded water would push back the line into the expansion tank.
It is common after installing city water to have no expansion tank and a check valve installed in the new waterline. When the hot water tank heats water, the expanded water has nowhere to go, thus building excess pressure and blowing it out of your water heater relief valve.
The solution is to install a small expansion tank on the cold water line above your water heater.
We carry an expansion tank for hot water. It is our item # 41-300, a Zurn XT-8. A tee fitting is required for the cold water line to go to a ¾ “ female pipe thread to accept the tank threads. You will need enough room for the tank to hang. It is advisable to have some support for the water line as well, to avoid putting undo strain on it, causing it to break and create another problem.
You may also want to replace the relief valve, our item 41-274, on your water heater as it may still drip after being opened by high pressure a few times.
Good article on expansion tanks from a code point of view: http://www.wvdhhr.org/phs/water/thermal_expansion2.pdf
Here is a link to Zurn’s installation document. for the XT expansion tank.
If I run out of water, can it damage my pump?
Submersible pumps are more susceptible to damage than jet pumps. Pumps are cooled and lubricated by the water flowing through them. The impellers of a submersible pump will quickly begin to melt and fuse together when the water level drops below the intake screen of the pump. Running without water even one time can cause the pump to lock up or seriously degrade the pump’s performance. A jet pump may run quite awhile without damage but they can also overheat. The impeller, diffuser, shaft seal or motor could be ruined. Because this type of damage is not from a defect in the pump, it is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
A low cut-off pressure switch will prevent damage in most situations but is not foolproof. A better solution is to install an electric pump protection control. The pressure switch turns off the pump when there is a drop in water pressure below 20psi. The pump protector controls sense a drop in electric current as the load on the pump drops when the well goes “dry”.
The low water pressure switch is suitable as a little insurance for a well that doesn’t typically have a problem with water level. We highly recommend the pump protector for low-producing wells. If your pressure switch drops out, you will have to wait several minutes or more for the water level to recover, and then hold the lever on the side of the switch up until the pressure increases above 20psi. The pump control is not only more reliable, it is also much more convenient. The control has an adjustable timer which can be set from two minutes to an hour or more. After the preset time, the control automatically restarts the pump. It sure beats getting out of the shower soaking wet and trudging to the basement to lift the arm on the pressure switch!