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Using and Pulling a Vacuum on oil tank to allow oil line repair.

I have seen a soot vacuum cleaner used to pull a vacuum on an oil tank to allow the oil line to be removed and repaired however does anyone know of any technical manual or publication describing the "correct" steps in doing this? (If there are any..)

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,936
    I'd be really cautious about doing this -- it wouldn't take much vacuum to collapse the tank. Which could ruin your whole day...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • burnerman_2
    burnerman_2 Member Posts: 297
    We I have done about 30... I just started doing it a bit different.... Be sure tank is 1/2 full if at all possible,,... Use a tie strap on vent with red rag to block some of vent... be sure fill is tight.. remove plug in basement .. get on floor loosen valve just a bit... put dope on new valve.. have your partner turn on vac... 2 seconds off and 2 seconds on... done...
    billtwocaseBob Bona_4
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Done many that way too burnerman. Alone usually
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    Done it too, it works. But you won't find anything documented.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    edited October 2015
    I have pulled a plug inside the basement...put the hose in, put an extension cord next to me an turn it on when ready....I wont generally do it if the tank is 10+ years...not sure my heart can handle the stress on old tanks...memory serves me right, there used to be an adapter you could purchase. you set the adapter to how full the tank was and it set the vacuum...
    Johnnyengineer
  • vrestifo
    vrestifo Member Posts: 1
    edited August 2020
    Can these vacuums be used to allow oil line repair? It seems to be different than what the OP had in mind.

    mattmia2
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,177
    vrestifo said:

    Can these vacuums be used to allow oil line repair? It seems to be different than what the OP had in mind.

    It's spam. Click the little 'flag' button to the left along the bottom & mark it spam.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,848

    I'd be really cautious about doing this -- it wouldn't take much vacuum to collapse the tank. Which could ruin your whole day...

    I don't think a shop vac will collapse an oil tank.
    ;)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    The trick is you don't need absolute suction. Don't seal the vent, then seal around your hose on the supply.
    I always use 2 people and we talk on the phone.
    Slowly open the valve (pan underneath) and it's basically communicating "a little more, a little less, hold it there". Swap out valve leave it open. Soon as it's in, stop vac, close valve.
    A soot vac can collapse a tank. I use an 18 volt Milwaukee.
    steve
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,848

    The trick is you don't need absolute suction. Don't seal the vent, then seal around your hose on the supply.
    I always use 2 people and we talk on the phone.
    Slowly open the valve (pan underneath) and it's basically communicating "a little more, a little less, hold it there". Swap out valve leave it open. Soon as it's in, stop vac, close valve.
    A soot vac can collapse a tank. I use an 18 volt Milwaukee.

    A soot vac can collapse a tank?
    Are we talking oil canning the sides that'll just pop back out, or?


    I'm just finding it a bit hard to stomach that a simple single stage high volume centrifugal blower could literally crush an oil tank.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,864
    ratio said:

    vrestifo said:

    Can these vacuums be used to allow oil line repair? It seems to be different than what the OP had in mind.

    It's spam. Click the little 'flag' button to the left along the bottom & mark it spam.
    I've deleted the spam. Thanks!
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
    ratio
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,761
    Supposedly the little mechanical pump in old cars could collapse your gas tank if it were not vented.

    How about the old school overhead hanging compression tank,
    could just draining with long hose be enough to collapse it?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,848
    edited August 2020
    JUGHNE said:

    Supposedly the little mechanical pump in old cars could collapse your gas tank if it were not vented.

    How about the old school overhead hanging compression tank,
    could just draining with long hose be enough to collapse it?

    That'd a liquid pump pumping liquid.
    Not even close to the same.

    I'm sure if the hose is long enough, yes it could collapse a tank. Or, a water heater for example.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,198
    edited August 2020
    My business was located near a US Coast Guard base. I was called to a tank leak only to find a Coasty in Dress Blues lying under the tank with this finger on the hole that he had just uncovered by flicking a flake of rust off the bottom. He was in a panic because he was going to be late for his deployment on a Cutter leaving within the hour.

    I plugged in my soot vacuum cleaner and relieved him of duty (as the "Little Dutch Boy" holding back the environmental insurance claim flood dike.)

    This is something I was taught by a service manager from my father's 4000+ customer fuel oil business. Sometimes this is the only way many of the tricks of the trade are passed down.

    Who in the right mind would want the liability of a disaster happening as a result of an idiot trying to follow published instructions on how to properly complete the procedure. As I have said in previous posts: "This is why McDonald's coffee cups say CAUTION: CONTENTS HOT. "

    This is why you will almost never see an official "How To" on this procedure. BUT Geroge Lanthier, a frequent contributor to several HVAC publications, did include the procedure in this article a few years back: https://fueloilnews.com/2016/05/26/a-few-tricks/
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    ratioSlamDunk
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    ChrisJ said:

    The trick is you don't need absolute suction. Don't seal the vent, then seal around your hose on the supply.
    I always use 2 people and we talk on the phone.
    Slowly open the valve (pan underneath) and it's basically communicating "a little more, a little less, hold it there". Swap out valve leave it open. Soon as it's in, stop vac, close valve.
    A soot vac can collapse a tank. I use an 18 volt Milwaukee.

    A soot vac can collapse a tank?
    Are we talking oil canning the sides that'll just pop back out, or?


    I'm just finding it a bit hard to stomach that a simple single stage high volume centrifugal blower could literally crush an oil tank.
    A new tank, probably not. An old tank, weak/compromised tank? I'm not saying it's going to crush like a tin can, but it will pull in, even a little violently (did that by accident once). Especially, if it's an old tank when people were using 14 gauge tanks.
    You could get a soot vac and try it for yourself...:)
    steve
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,198
    edited August 2020
    Agree with @STEVEusaPA above. With an additional observation. Many fuel tanks fail as a result of corrosion from inside the tank. Think about the old tank with several compromised locations that are almost rusted thru. Now, a vacuum will take away the pressure of the fuel holding down some tank bottom deposits on those locations. Maybe some microbubbles start to enter thru the pin-holes. If the repair takes more time, the pinholes grow with the effects of erosion of the air across the openings as long as the vacuum is operating.

    Ok, now you are finished your repair. You turn off your vacuum and... oops, the bottom of the tank starts to weep. Now it is time to remove the oil and replace the tank. But at least the oil is not in the ground! :)
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    STEVEusaPA
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,848
    Point taken.

    However, if the tank is that compromised, wouldn't you insist on replacing it rather than waiting for it to fail in a few months or a year?


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,198
    Yes, Definitely. The procedure works on new tanks that need a new valve that broke off and left the threaded part in the tapping AND on old tanks that need replacing. You keep the oil in the tank and off the ground.

    Once the emergency is over, now you take the time to make the necessary remediation. That can be to just clean up the minor spill on a good tank or to replace the bad tank. I recall another emergency fix I used when I was on a service call alone and had to stop a leaking tank.

    It was an outside above ground tank that was less than 1/2 full. I disconnected the fuel line from the tank valve, put a plug in the vent opening, removed the gauge and plugged that opening also, and pushed the tank on its side. The oil level was now below the leak in the bottom and the top openings where you fill and vent the tank.

    This won't work on a full tank for obvious reasons. Once the oil can no longer leak on the ground, you can take your time and pump into drums.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    ChrisJ
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,936
    edited August 2020
    Just for a giggle check on the collapse possibility. Let's suppose that your vacuum -- soot, shop, whatever -- can develop 2 psi of vacuum That's less than the vacuum picking up a bowling ball ad. Then let's suppose that the tank has a flat side 4 feet long and 2 feet high. That's about 1,000 square inches. The vacuum, given time and no leaks, will exert a force of 2,000 pounds on the sides... might not collapse, but I wouldn't want to bet on it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    EdTheHeaterManSTEVEusaPA
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    ChrisJ said:

    Point taken.
    However, if the tank is that compromised, wouldn't you insist on replacing it rather than waiting for it to fail in a few months or a year?

    Well, a few things. "that compromised" is hard to quantify (qualify)? We're not X-Raying them. Now if it's leaking, that's another thing.
    Second point, if I replaced every tank where people took my recommendation to replace it, I'd be doing mostly tanks.
    Most people just wont replace it until it leaks, weeps or their insurance company or realtor (new buyer) makes them. Or they yank them and switch to gas. Even staining around the end welds on older tanks doesn't scare them.
    Back to the original post topic. This is why I hate firomatic valves. Their failure rate is quite high, as opposed to nearly zero failures on a ball valve. The vacuum trick has almost always been used exclusively for firomatics, and some old gate valves. If the whole thing is rusted, like a side bung on an old tank and valve, I won't put a wrench on it. But I will add a second valve, until tank replacement. I'm done with super speedy filter replacement over a bucket or pan.
    I always use a ball valve at the tank, then a firomatic. Never even had an inspector notice.
    steve
    SuperTech
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    edited August 2020

    My business was located near a US Coast Guard base. I was called to a tank leak only to find a Coasty in Dress Blues lying under the tank with this finger on the hole that he had just uncovered by flicking a flake of rust off the bottom. He was in a panic because he was going to be late for his deployment on a Cutter leaving within the hour.

    I plugged in my soot vacuum cleaner and relieved him of duty (as the "Little Dutch Boy" holding back the environmental insurance claim flood dike.)

    This is something I was taught by a service manager from my father's 4000+ customer fuel oil business. Sometimes this is the only way many of the tricks of the trade are passed down.

    Who in the right mind would want the liability of a disaster happening as a result of an idiot trying to follow published instructions on how to properly complete the procedure. As I have said in previous posts: "This is why McDonald's coffee cups say CAUTION: CONTENTS HOT. "

    This is why you will almost never see an official "How To" on this procedure. BUT Geroge Lanthier, a frequent contributor to several HVAC publications, did include the procedure in this article a few years back: https://fueloilnews.com/2016/05/26/a-few-tricks/

    George is the best. I'm partial to that article as he put my power vacuum bleed pot in it :) Also he mentioned not to do the vacuum trick on 14 ga tanks.
    steve
  • BDR529
    BDR529 Member Posts: 217
    Soot vac.. the best tool (underated) it the the truck.

    Boiler drain, done.
    Fuel tank, done.
    Water heater issue, Done.

    A Slight pressure difference is all that is needed.
    Not trying to implode anything.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,593
    BDR529 said:
    Soot vac.. the best tool (underated) it the the truck. Boiler drain, done. Fuel tank, done. Water heater issue, Done. A Slight pressure difference is all that is needed. Not trying to implode anything.
    I understand the soot vac for the oil tank but how would you use it for a boiler drain or water heater issue? 
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    For a boiler drain or relief valve if I can’t drain what I need, I have used a little pump that you hook to a vs cordless drill (with a washer machine hose) to pull a slight vacuum to swap it out.
    steve
  • Ignatz
    Ignatz Member Posts: 16
    As a retired underground tank tester, we had to go thru a bunch of steps before determining how much "negative" pressure to "pull" on the tank to "lift" the product, to test the bottom of the tank. We had to be certified with the equipment manufacture and State to do this.
    We used expensive manometers, backup gauges, blower motors, and followed a set protocol. It was about $1,200 a year, just for the yearly calibration of the equipment.

    But at the end of the day......we are both "sorta" doing the same thing. Lifting the product off the bottom of the tank.
    So, a tank with 24" of heating oil in it would require about .774 of negative psi to start to lift the product. Then add .5 psi for insurance and you got 1.244 of negative pressure.
    As a tank tester, we talked in positive and negative pressures. For some reason we were told not to say vacuum, not sure why.
    So to comment on Jamie Hall above, 2 psi of negative pressure on a standard 275 heating oil tank would be slightly more than I would pull on it.
    As a note, I would pull the same amount of negative pressure on a 20,000 gallon tank with 24" of heating oil as I would a 275 gallon tank with 24" of fuel oil.
    The 20,000 gallon tank, because of the large ullage (air space) might take 30 minutes to get to the test pressure.
    The 275 tank might 2-4 seconds, because of the small ullage. The small tank would be very difficult to maintain a constant negative pressure and care would have to be taken that it was not going too negative.
    Back when I worked, I was Pa. DEP certified Underground Inspector, Installer, Removal, Tank Tightness Tester and everything else. If I would have used a shop vac and rags to pull a vacuum on a tank, I might have got into trouble, ah no, big trouble.
    But in Pa., a heating oil tank, even a 20,000 heating oil tank is not a regulated tank. Sure there's responsibilities, but its not a regulated tank.


  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,848
    @Ignatz
    Best I can tell, a typical vacuum cleaner produces at best around 2.25 PSI of vacuum.

    Do you feel that could collapse or damage an oil tank that is in reasonably good shape?


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Ignatz
    Ignatz Member Posts: 16
    No, but I would have never been that high. I would have been around 1.5 psi max. Also a smaller tank has more rigidity and is less likely to pull a side in. You never hear about people collapsing home heating oil tanks.
    Years back, there were single wall steel tanks that had compartment baffles in them, so one side had regular, and the other side premium. You had to "pull" them down equally, but many times they "Bonged" where you heard it and felt it thru your feet.
    ChrisJ