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Oil Tank help!

Hi all,
Just wondering if I could get some advice from you guys here on the forum. I moved into a new home last year October 2015 and the home has an oil burner for the steam heat. The oil tank was fairly new (from 2014) and the oil company rep who came to see it before the start of service commented on how new it was. Oil was delivered on schedule throughout winter. In June we noticed that that our oil tank had completely buckled, clearly due to overpressurization or some such. I called the oil company who say that it is not their fault, the vent alarm works fine and that this was a pre-existing condition that I or the sales rep from their own company was not "technically qualified to notice". ie. we are accused of not being able to tell the difference between a completely buckled steel drum vs an intact one.
What options do I have in getting this resolved by them? I would like to talk to upper management about this but need to figure out a way.
Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
michaelsheating

Comments

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,811
    @RI_SteamWorks
    Can you help?
    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: 5,687
    edited September 2016
    Some conflicting info.
    -If the 'vent worked fine' it wouldn't have buckled (bulged).
    -"...that this was a pre-existing condition that I or the sales rep from their own company was not "technically qualified to notice..." That's BS. Practically every insurance company (for an oil co) requires an initial inspection of the storage tank to check for proper piping, leaks, obvious signs of failure, and unsafe conditions, and (mine) requires I fill out a card and keep it on file.
    Now it is possible, that something (small critter, etc.) blocked or partially blocked the vent, the driver delivered at a high speed (volume) and that happened.
    If the vent is sized properly, inspected and no deficiencies found before initial filling, and the tank was intact. Then this happened later during a proper filling, it's kind of hard to blame the oil company-unless the vent is undesized & the driver filled at some very high pressure (volume).
    I strongly recommend not filling the tank again until you confirm the vent is ok. And even after that, I wouldn't trust the integrity of the tank. It takes a lot to make a tank bulge, so much so that I've never seen it happen even with an almost completely blocked vent.
    Can you post a pic of the piping, and a close up of the underwriter's tag on the tank?
    steve
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    @Bostongirl did the tank leak any oil?
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • "In June we noticed that that our oil tank had completely buckled, clearly due to over pressurization or some such."

    I would need a lot more information to include pictures before I could comment.

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,749
    Did it buckle in or bulge out?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,327
    edited September 2016
    This is one reason people switch to gas.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    kcoppBob Bona_4
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    Steamhead said:

    This is one reason people switch to gas.

    It's a huge reason for switching.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
    Bob Bona_4
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Oh yes, another nail in our coffin due to morons. I always do an inspection of the tank, equipment, etc before anything. If it is unsafe, illegal, or whatever, it's either let me make it right, or keep searching for someone who will look the other way. I also have no problem notifying Fire Prevention to save a life customer or not
    New England SteamWorksBob Bona_4
  • Brewbeer said:

    Steamhead said:

    This is one reason people switch to gas.

    It's a huge reason for switching.
    It's not a reason at all! Thousands and thousands of oil tanks and never have I seen this (whatever "this" is). I would venture that there are just as many houses that blow up due to gas leaks as oil tanks that "buckle". -Which is to say, few indeed. So lay off the ad hominem attacks on oil heat please. There are thousands of family run businesses that work very hard to earn a living and maintain a satisfied customer base. What's Big Gas done for anyone lately?

    One hates to cast aspersions, but the report is not credible as written. In June you have what appears to be a major problem with a new oil tank, but don't get around to addressing it until September?
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
    STEVEusaPA
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,327

    Brewbeer said:

    Steamhead said:

    This is one reason people switch to gas.

    It's a huge reason for switching.
    It's not a reason at all! Thousands and thousands of oil tanks and never have I seen this (whatever "this" is). I would venture that there are just as many houses that blow up due to gas leaks as oil tanks that "buckle". -Which is to say, few indeed. So lay off the ad hominem attacks on oil heat please. There are thousands of family run businesses that work very hard to earn a living and maintain a satisfied customer base. What's Big Gas done for anyone lately?
    Unfortunately for the oilheat industry, customers perceive any issue with oil as a reason to switch to gas. That's just how it is.

    I still heat with oil, but that's mostly so I can tell my oil-fired customers that I live with that fuel and it had better work for me, and that I can do the same for them. I'll probably switch if and when I get to retire.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Bob Bona_4
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    edited September 2016
    @RI_SteamWorks, part of my job is to respond to oil spills. I've seen a number of cases where tanks have bulged and worse, ruptured. Tanks more typically spring leaks, but a bulging or burst tank due to overpressure during filling is not an uncommon occurance, its just that such a situation never makes the evening news, unlike the house explosion due to a gas leak.

    I too would like to see a photo, and to understand why someone would wait several months to address a tank problem. @Bostongirl, Is the tank bulging due to excess pressure, or crumpled due to vacuum?
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,687
    edited September 2016
    @RI_SteamWorks...perfect! Well said! The only thing I would add is ALOT more gas explosions with grave consequences vs. cleaning up spilled oil-which in most cases could've been prevented.
    Big Gas-Fracking will destroy the water table, and have cataclysmic, irreversible damage to the country and by extension the planet.
    All the methane leaking from wellheads, 100 year old pipes, and burning of nat gas/propane is doing more damage to the environment than burning heating oil.
    steve
  • Brewbeer said:

    @RI_SteamWorks, part of my job is to respond to oil spills. I've seen a number of cases where tanks have bulged and worse, ruptured.

    Just as a homicide detective is not surprised to see a murder scene...For him it happens all the time and for you too (with oil spills)! Not because it's frequent, but because it's your job to go when it happens.

    How often does a boiler go down and require service? Ask a homeowner and they'll say rarely. Ask a service tech and they'll say "all the time"....

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Bostongirl
    Bostongirl Member Posts: 7
    Hey guys.. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments! @ steveusaPA and @RI_SteamWorks I am including pictures of our now buckled tank. As you can see, its crumpled on 4 sides rather than bulging. What exactly is an underwriter tag?
    I agree that there is no way someone, even a sales guy from the company who placed a sticker on the tank could not have noticed.
    Luckily our home inspector took pictures of the intact tank before we began service with the company.
    Any advice on how to pursue this?
    Thanks again!



  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,687
    I'm telling you in 30+ years I've never seen anything like that, except one hit by a car in a garage.
    Well it's bulging on the ends, which probably caused the 'crumpling'.
    Could you show 2 more pics, a close up of the underwriter's plate, and a side view of the top of the tank where the pipes enter?
    Unless it's 14 gauge, almost totally blocked vent, and someone blasted in oil at over 90+ gallons a minute, I'm at a loss.
    It has to be some bizarre fill/vent issue, but like I said, I can't say I ever saw this before.
    Now how to proceed.
    Is the oil company the same company who installed the tank? If not is there a way to find out who installed the tank (maybe either a sticker on the tank, a sticker on the heater, or some old service/combustion records.
    Maybe you could get the manufacturer of the tank involved to certify this was caused by over pressurization, and not a manufacturer's defect. From there, I would contact the oil company again, have the owner come over, show him the report from the manufacturer, the pictures from the home inspector, and see where it goes. Unless it's hard to get in and out of your basement, it's an easy swap out.
    I guess the question is does the oil company want to keep you as a customer and/or do they care that they may have a driver/truck that is delivering fuel at a ridiculous volume/pressure?
    I guess you could get an attorney to pursue the matter, but if it were me as the owner of the oil company, I would get the tank manufacturer involved. If there is absolutely nothing wrong with the tank and piping, I would swap it out. The cost of the tank and piping is less than a few hours of an attorney's billing rate.
    steve
  • We need some good pictures of the inside tank piping, and of the outside piping as well.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Bostongirl
    Bostongirl Member Posts: 7
    @STEVEusaPA: Thank so much for you thoughtful and intelligent analysis! Yes: The technicians from the present oil company, our home inspector as well as the people from the new tank installation company that came today to take a look and give us a replacement quote, all say the same: that they have never seen anything like this before!
    1. The tank was installed by another company , who in turn subcontracted it to another company that has since gone under. When we contacted the original company we found that a fire permit had not been pulled. This was 2 years ago and way before we bought our home last October.
    2. The tank is manufactured by a Canadian company called Superior Tanks . The Tank is from 2014 and is still under warranty. When we called them they said that this buckling was most likely caused by overpressurization, therefore human error and hence the warranty is void.
    3. Not sure what you mean by underwriters plate but I am also attaching a couple of pictures of the vent pipes inside the basement. (Sorry its too dark now to take a pic of the outside vent). All the technicians from our present oil company say they are the same diameter and look to be installed right.
    4. The technicians have also tested the vent alarm from the outside by blowing in the pipe and hearing the whistle.
    @Hatterasguy, @RI_SteamWorks: thanks for weighing in.. so much appreciated!
    I will upload the pics in the next post.
  • Might be time to think a little outside the box. Something unusual happened here. A good first step would be to identify the date of the delivery when this occurred. Get your oil delivery records together and your best memories and see if you can find the date it happened. Then the oil company can find the driver and the truck. We will also learn how many gallons were delivered, and at what rate the truck pumps. And if the driver is still employed.

    Is the vent pipe low and subject to buried snow in the winter? Was there any construction around the fill pipe area? Something apparently blocked the vent. It worked for two years prior, and it works now, so it was apparently a one-off.

    Take some pics from outside when you get a chance.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Marz
    Marz Member Posts: 90
    Wow... Think it's possible that there's a scully connected to the vent? Pushing 90gpm through a ventalarm could cause an issue I would think. Just a thought.
  • John Levey
    John Levey Member Posts: 34
    I agree with RI Steamworks, something unusual happened & an outside picture showing the fill and vent terminations would help.

    So far the information presented has been helpful but before a conclusion can be reached ALL of the info needs to be reviewed.
  • Bostongirl
    Bostongirl Member Posts: 7
    Thanks again!
    It is virtually impossible to identify the date that this occurred. All we know that it happened between October and June when we noticed it. The energy company had no record of the drivers complaining about any issue.
    We had a mild winter and I always made sure that the area around the outside pipes and vents was clear. Besides the numerous people who have come to investigate have seen no problem with the outside vents.
    This clearly was some sort of one-off blockage that went unnoticed because as I mentioned earlier, the vent alarm works just fine.
    Here are pics of the outside pipes!