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persistent oil fumes

i used to be into running about fixing lots of problems with burners furnaces boilers wells,oil pumps,zone valve wiring boiler controls and a host of related adventures...the idea i have is sorta different...say you had someone install new oil lines and a new L vent for a new boiler ,built in This century...would you expect the smell would likely reoccur?


  • mjjmjj Posts: 22Member
    persistent oil fumes

    One year ago my mom's old oil co. reps. replaced her oil tank and installed an above-ground fuel line ( copper covered with grooved plastic) in place of our old line which was embedded in the concrete basement floor. This resulted in several fuel leaks, which have been thouroughly cleaned and ventilated over the spring and summer. Still there is a persistant oil odour both in the basement and first floor rooms, which must be coming from the fuel line or connections to the tank or boiler (covering it with cement is no longer acceptable).

    Our local TSSA (fuel safety inspector) has been over twice and detected no leaks. He explained that in some cases he can tell that a homeowner has oil heat as soon as he enters their house by the smell of oil (apparently in houses with no oil leaks). Has anyone else experienced this problem? Is there anything that can be done to ammend this?

    Our boiler is about40+ years old, we'd like to have a new one installed, and in spite of the numerous advantages of sticking with oil, are considering converting to a natural gas system because of this problem. Home owners and HVAC professionals, any thoughts on this?
  • Patchogue PhilPatchogue Phil Posts: 32Member

    What happenned to the original copper fuel line in the cement? Did it maybe leak fuel into the cement after they disconnected it?

    Try this stuff if you find a spot where fuel spilled.

    Odorgon™ Powder kills odors and absorbs oil from concrete and other floors. Handy for cleaning up after spills and oil leaks. Leaves a pleasant odor after absorbing spills. Non-explosive, non-flammable and safe. Sifter top for controlled economical usage and clean storage.

  • Joe BrixJoe Brix Posts: 626Member
    If oil has been absorbed by the concrete,

    You might still get an odor. I would try putting down an an oil absorbent on the concrete for a few weeks to pull as much of the oil out. Also wipe down the tubing, flair fitings, to make sure none are slightly leaking. Make sure all the tank vent piping is tight. After sweeping up the absorbent, try sealing the concrete with paint, stain or waterpoofing sealant to prevent fumes from weeping out.
  • J.C.A.J.C.A. Posts: 2,981Member
    What Joe and Phil said, but....

    Try putting down some dry plaster of paris as an absorbant over the old oil line through space. If you notice it turning yellow, it's doing its job and pulling the oil from the concrete.Check once a week or so.... Keep doing it until the yellow dissapears completely. You can mix the "Odergone" powder with it to continue to mask the smell, but if you try to paint or stain over any left over oil you'll have peeling paint in short order.Also check the area along the fuel tank vent and fill lines. If it comes in over a concrete sill and has leaked it could be being pulled into the sill itself and moving along the beam.

    The plaster of paris trick was taught to me by an old cemetary super. One of the backhoes blew a hydraulic line and sprayed down nearby headstones. His crew was out there for about 3 days dry rubbing with it but it finally took all the oil stain from both rough and smooth granite. Chris
  • LeoLeo Posts: 767Member ✭✭

    All of the suggestions are great. One thing to have your service company check is to see if oil got into the tube covering the line, if it is a seperate tube vs the plastic coated line I have seen oil collect in it after a leak. If nothing else gets rid of the oder try vanilla extract, it works and may make you hungry. Walking into a house and smelling oil should never happen if everything is right.

  • mjjmjj Posts: 22Member

    Just as patchogue Phil suggested, the first place we checked was the old pipe opening, which was leaking. Our new oil co. service man yanked out the old pipe, and cemented the hole. It turned out to be mainly a leak at the surface, which I have since cleaned. I've checked the fuel tank vent and fill lines, and all seem clean. I will continue to check the fittings.

    It is possible that oil may have seeped between the tube and plastic liner. The liner is grooved inside, I think this is designed to lead any free oil towards the ends of the fuel line. If this is the problem, should I be able to detect oil at the ends of the fuel tube?
  • Rich P.Rich P. Posts: 60Member
    oil smell's


    Fuel oil smell's are sometimes so difficult to detect all the time. I explain to my customers there are two types of smell's 1. burnt oil smell (smell like a diesal bus or train) 2. sweet smell, kind of like when your at the gas station but different. This sometimes help's me hone in on the problem. Smell #1 is usually a burner malfunction and can happen anytime intermittently. Smell #2 is all the time or when the tank is being filled,a indication of a leak. A leak is not always visible, could have leaked under the floor for years(nobody wants to think about that). Even a small leak at the filter or line or pump is enough to cause a little smell. Do you have a warm air furnace (duct work throughout the home) ??
    This duct work can send smell's upstairs to. Do you smell
    oil upstairs or down only or anywhere in particular?
    If you do find a leak the previous post's are right on!
    Last note: when I go into a house that has natural gas I can smell it too.. Therefore any leaking fuel might cause a smell.

    Last thought sometimes I will find old cans of oil or paint rotting in a distant corner of the basement.

    Rich P.
  • Dan GoodridgeDan Goodridge Posts: 62Member


    The inspector is wrong-- I am a fuel oil dealer and if you can smell oil something is WRONG. It could be an existing leak or it could be an old leak-- Have it checked out by a pro. If your existing oil co. cannot solve the problem-- get a new company. And some dealers can't understand why their customers switch to gas!
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