Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

how can I tell if oil tank is still good?

Angela_2 Member Posts: 67
Hi, We just bought a house with an empty oil tank. We were told that it has been vacant for about 2 years. No telling for sure when the last time the furnace was used (It was last serviced in 2006.)The tank seems to be bone dry. How do we know if it is still usable? My concern is that if the stuff left in the bottom has turned bad, we could damage the burner and/or furnace by using it. Is there some kind of a test for this? What are the chances of doing significant damage by filling the tank with oil and seeing what happens? The tank is small-- probably only about 100 gallons. Thanks, Angela


  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557

    1. I've never heard of a 100 gallon approved oil tank. There are 138 gallon tanks, but usually 2 are installed. Look for a name plate on it to determine if it is really an approved oil tank or something that someone rigged up.

    2. If there is slime in the bottom I would want to get it out of there before I filled the tank. A thin coating is probably not a big deal, but a few inches is too much. No sense starting with sludge.

    3. Your oil company should be able to do a low air pressure test on the tank to make sure that it doesn't leak. You don't want to fill it and then find out it has a hole in it.
  • Angela_2
    Angela_2 Member Posts: 67

    Well, I was just guessing at the size since it looks about half the size of mine-- I guess you're right. Half would be more like 138 gallons (mine holds about 275). Anyway, the tank looks standard, not like anything anybody just made it up and built it. I'm a couple of hours away from it now, so I can't look at it for more details.

    But how do you know if there is sludge? And how would you clean that out if it was there?

    I was wondering if you can tell by bleeding the line-- like we do when we run out of oil and have to prime the burner.  But maybe that would damage the burner if there was sludge? Or maybe you can't even get anything pumped out of there if the tank is empty except for sludge.

    the gauge says 0.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557

    The worst that will happen is you'll get sludge in the filter. Not likely that mechanical damage will occur. It's just nice to start off with a clean tank. Not so easy to clean them out. We have a guy that comes in with a pump and filter contraption and pulls the sludge/oil off the bottom and filters it out. It's not perfect but it helps.

    I assume you can look down in the tank. See if you can get an idea how much goop is down there. If it's 3-4 inches then you should get it out. You might be able to drain a lot of it through the bottom taping on the tank, but I recommend you have a professional do the work so it doesn't become a bigger problem later.
This discussion has been closed.