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Re-purposing an old heating oil tank.

I just won a dilapidated old house at auction here in Nome, AK. It currently has a boiler and baseboard heating. I'm imagining the boiler is not worth repairing (it looks really rough) and there is a good deal of water damage in the floor around it.

I have a couple Toyotomi and a Monitor direct vent heaters I'm going to install in the place. My question is: How can I use the old existing oil tank (it is sitting on the ground below the level of the floor of the house. There is a filler on top and 2-3/8" copper lines). I have zero experience with boilers, and low level tanks. I assume there is some sort of pump on the boiler to pull up the fuel?

I'm toying with idea of draining the tank (its probably full of water and gore) and putting it up on some sort of stand and using it as a gravity feed to my heaters. It would be nice if i could get an outlet welded onto the bottom of the tank, but I don't think that is much of an option here. Could I somehow just use one of the existing lines, to supply fuel to my heaters? Siphon action? The biggest hurdle I see here is initially getting the flow started, then having to restart the flow if the tank gets too low. Does this seem feasible? Pitfalls? Better ideas?

Thanks,

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,767
    Don't even think about it. You don't know how rusted the tank may be inside. If it leaks, it could turn the house into a Superfund site.

    If you're going to use oil, get a new tank. Granby and Roth make double-wall tanks that can contain a leak.

    Is the boiler still holding water pressure? Post a pic and let's have a look.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    STEVEusaPARobert O'Brien
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 687
    You need to contact an oil distributor to arrange for the proper pumping out of the tank and disposing of the tank. there are specific rules set by the EPA and your state for handling oil tanks and a specific way to cut up and then clean the sludge out and then safely dispose of the tank.

    Otherwise your looking at a world of hurt and paying fines and being provided 3 hots and a cot for breaking the EPA and State of Alaska DEQ/DEC environmental pollution control laws.

    DO you know definitely whether Is this home heated with steam or hot water heat? Are there radiators or baseboard heat in the home.

    If you have radiators are they set up with a single pipe coming through the floor for a one pipe steam system
    or a two pipe system one coming off the end of the radiator and piped into the basement making it a two pipe system for hot water or steam?

    You need a licensed plumber to identify what kind of system you have take care of this for you.

    In your case and location an oil tank with a barrier structure as a secondary catchment basin is a way to do this BUT the water that is captured in the containment basin must be pumped out as needed and properly disposed of by an oil disposal company.
    This can be mitigated by installing a permanent roof over the oil tank that is set in a EPA certified steel catchment basin

    A true tank within in tank catchment system is better ideal and will cost you very little over a 40 plus year life span as the tank is always protected by the external tank.

    As old as your 2 pipe fuel delivery and return lines are you would want to scrap them and install new ones.

    The issue is whether or not your current heaters can be piped as two pipe systems to provide the oil to the heaters.
    The two pipe oil delivery system guarantees that the oil lines will not be air locked. The excess oil is used to cool the oil burner pump and keep the system full of oil when it is working and not becoming air locked(WHICH IS A )(*&^%$%^&*() when your a home owner dealing with bleeding it four+ times per day.

    You should seriously look at a coal stoker boiler for this home as
    you have Usibeli coal in your state and I am sure that there is a coal dealer in Nome AK. There are good bituminous coal stoker boilers available for home heating making steam or hot water heat.


    usofthedog
  • usofthedog
    usofthedog Member Posts: 8
    Thanks Steamhead and Leonz. I appreciate the effort, but Nome is not typical in that it is not on the road system. Yes a new tank would be the way to go, but my only option here is to order one from Greer tank in Anchorage. For the most basic 300 gallon tank and stand the cost is $1000.00 then shipping would be an additional $1000.00 Yeah air freight. ($2/lb plus over size differential).

    It is most definitely a hot water type system with baseboards, but here the hot water is replaced with glycol.

    I'll get some pictures of the unit today, maybe its not as bad as I think
  • usofthedog
    usofthedog Member Posts: 8
    So forget everything that I have posted. I have a pristine very large square fuel oil tank that I want to use to supply fuel to my direct vent Toyotomi heater. This heater is gravity fed, my problem is that the tank just has a filler neck and an outlet hole in the top of the tank. How would I go about plumbing this to feed my heater? I am in bush Alaska and do not have access to welder. Thanks!
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    You still need a qualified oil company to do this for you.
    I'm not familiar with Toyotomi (and I'm glad for reasons o can't explain), but are they only 1 pipe, gravity fed, or can the fuel pumps be converted to 2 pipe?

    I've heard stories about northern oil tanks needing to be 2" if gravity fed and reducing only when the oil line enters a conditioned space. But that would mean a skid tank, in the lower 48 anyway.

    If its only a top fed tank, as much as I hate to admit it, you'll be better off with a 2 pipe fuel system.

    If the Toyotomi can't accept a bypass plug, or be converted over to 2 pipe, I would super insulate the single pipe top fed oil line, use a lift pump and day tank.
    usofthedog
  • usofthedog
    usofthedog Member Posts: 8






  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,767
    An older American-Standard VP. I believe this was the model that morphed into the V1 series which was made for many years after Burnham bought American-Standard's boiler line. These older A-S boilers were built like tanks, and typically last a long time.

    However, the DH burner that's still on this one should have been replaced a long time ago. It was an attempt at a higher-efficiency burner that didn't work out too well. But that boiler should run well with a Beckett AF or AFG or Carlin EZ. These are all current, well-supported models, and if set up properly they should run all year without making smoke or soot. Choose the one that's normally used in your area. And- most important given your location- parts for these burners are readily available. Not sure about Toyotomi parts.

    The primary control should be replaced with one having a 15-second trial for ignition, interrupted ignition and valve-on delay. New burners come with these features.

    Also, the aquastat relay (box with no cover) should be upgraded to a modern electronic type. This can save a bit of oil, and it'll come with a cover.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    usofthedog
  • usofthedog
    usofthedog Member Posts: 8
    HVACNUT , I think I may see the light "lift pump and day tank" I will have to ponder this. FYI there are no "qualified" oil companies here in Nome! We do everything ourselves. There is one 80+ year old fellow here that does boiler repair/maintenance. I helped him thaw some frozen water lines this spring. He knows what he is doing and I may see if he will take moose steaks or smoked salmon in trade.

    I attached some photos of the current boiler system. There are a couple burst pipes, one of which is on the circulating system (glycol) and lots of scale/ corrosion. There are 3 Tacos which I assume are for 3 zones in the house. Whats the verdict, should I attempt to repair this? AHHEMM...... of course I mean a "qualified" oil company technician attempt to repair?

    Nearly everyone here says to get rid of the baseboard and go with multiple direct vent oil heaters. Apparently with the -40 Fahrenheit and 40 MPH winds the boiler/baseboard system will suck the oil tank dry in no time. But I'd give it a shot if it can be repaired fairly cheaply, just to have some heat this winter while I work on the place. FYI the house is about 2500 sq ft 2 stories, about half and half single/double pane windows with about half of them broken. Built around the turn of the century, it is complete with the original "honey bucket" toilet system! Gotta love it!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,767
    Oh, and the smoke pipe looks like there is a moisture issue. Around here that's usually rain water coming down the chimney, not sure if you get much rain in Nome. Need to find the cause.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    usofthedog
  • usofthedog
    usofthedog Member Posts: 8
    Thanks Steamhead, good stuff. I appreciate it! What kind of money would I be looking at roughly? Know any good online sites I could get these parts cheap. Used or refurbished would be good.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    My advice from looking at the pics, is get it running well enough to get you through the winter. In the spring, take the advice of @Steamhead and upgrade the burner and controls. And budget pending, re pipe the boiler using the "pumping away " method. Books on piping are offered here.
    You and Old Man Withers can knock it out.

    What time are the moose steaks gonna be ready?
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 687
    You will not be able to buy chimney components cheap or used.

    Rockford Chimney Supply is a very large distributor of boiler, furnace and stove piping and small parts/roof flanges etc. I have no idea who sells it on the west coast or is as thorough as they are with knowledge and parts.



  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,336
    If you're at all interested in rehabbing the current system, there are a goodly number of books available here, and a wealth of information here as well.

    Listen to the suggestions of the people here, you won't get better for love or money.

  • usofthedog
    usofthedog Member Posts: 8
    Thanks everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it. I just purchased a very good used 300 gallon tank and stand here yesterday! Previous owners just upgraded to larger tank. Woop! I'll give "Mr. Withers" a call, and see what he thinks about the boiler.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    > @usofthedog said:
    > Thanks everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it. I just purchased a very good used 300 gallon tank and stand here yesterday! Previous owners just upgraded to larger tank. Woop! I'll give "Mr. Withers" a call, and see what he thinks about the boiler.

    What about the steaks?
  • usofthedog
    usofthedog Member Posts: 8
    Hey HVACNUT, just let me know when you land and I'll fire up the grill!
    HVACNUT