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Cleaning a fuel oil tank

JeffBean1JeffBean1 Member Posts: 3
How do I clean my 275 gallon that sits outside fuel oil tank? This tank is used to heat my house.

Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,704
    What are the symptoms that lead you suspect you need to clean the tank (I presume you mean the inside...)? If you are always putting clean fuel oil (not biodiesel) into it, and you have and maintain good filters, while there will be some sludge accumulating below the outlet (and possibly some water), it shouldn't need cleaning...

    That said, one can clean a tank. Basically a matter of drain and flush and keep going until you are happy. Problem is, everything you drain out is going to be a hazardous waste, and the solvents you put in for real cleaning are not much fun to work with.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    Canucker
  • JeffBean1JeffBean1 Member Posts: 3
    The tank is at least 40 years old. The furnace is running rough because of dirty fuel? I have had technicians out to the house that tell me the tank needs cleaned. I can feel sludge at the bottom of the tank. I am in need of some information on how to clean it. And what to use on it
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,704
    edited March 29
    Much more likely that the furnace is running rough because of a partly clogged filter and, most likely, poor to non-existent maintenance and adjustment of the oil burner. Try that first.

    Don't even try to clean it inside yourself. If you feel the need to do it, have a reliable company pump it out completely and remove it to their facility, where they have access to the proper solvents and steam cleaning facilities. It will probably be cheaper to have that reliable company remove it and install a new one.

    May I repeat: don't even try to clean it inside yourself. You would be dealing with a very hazardous waste. Unless you are in the business, you don't have the proper personal protective equipment. You don't have the proper spill containment facilities. Never mind access to a safe (never mind legal) disposal facility.

    But get a good oil burner service technician out there and have him or her do a full service on the system instead. It probably needs it anyway, and it will be a lot cheaper -- and much less hazardous.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JeffBean1JeffBean1 Member Posts: 3
    Ok, thank you so much
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 3,269
    Where does the oil line leave the tank? Top or bottom?

    There are companies that do tank cleaning using a transfer pump. Not cheap.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,704
    HVACNUT said:

    Where does the oil line leave the tank? Top or bottom?



    There are companies that do tank cleaning using a transfer pump. Not cheap.

    Yes, that will at least get the sludge out... mostly...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • CTOilHeatCTOilHeat Member Posts: 54
    At 40+ years old the tank doesn't owe you anything. I'd really never recommend cleaning a tank of that age, especially one that's been outside. The labor alone for removal, cleaning, disposal of waste, etc will set you back most of the cost of a new tank. If it were done, you would just have a clean 40+ year old tank.

    If its time to address, replace it, before it leaks and you have a much more expensive issue to deal with.
    kcoppSTEVEusaPAGrallert
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,463
    I concur w/ @CTOilHeat. Swap it out. Cleaning it could actually remove some of the sludge that is holding the tank together... The cost of a new tank is far cheaper than having to deal w/ a spill and the EPA consequences. just a thought.
    STEVEusaPAGrallertpecmsg
  • GrallertGrallert Member Posts: 442
    40 years old. Outside. Past its useful life and likely to cause you real trouble. Replace it if you can asap. Until then keep up with filter replacement and maintenance.
  • pecmsgpecmsg Member Posts: 1,391
    X-3

    Replace It
  • LS123LS123 Member Posts: 97
    edited April 3
    @JeffBean1

    like some of the members have suggested I also encourage you to replacing the old tank with a new oil tank.

    There are heating oil tanks 275 gallons at really affordable prices.

    Most people use 275 carbon steel tanks at least based on my experience.

    Most 275 heating oil gallons tanks are ,12-gauge carbon steel.

    With a new Oil Tank, you will need Leg Set 1-1/4 in. and Black Iron Floor Flange.

    There are also larger heating oil tanks (330 Gallons) available for slightly higher price.

    Additionally, by replacing the old tank with a new one you will have the comfort of knowing you don't have to worry about the tank for at least min 10 max 40 years (as long as you clean the filter and do other maintenance. You will get better performance from the burner.

    Your can do the monthly cost of your new 275 g tank.
    10 Years , tank price, etc. divide by 120
    25 Years, tank price, etc divided by 300
    40 years, tank price, etc derided by 480

    I agree with @Jamie Hall and @CTOilHeat .

    * you most likely would want to have a certified and licensed professional to remove the old oil, and the tank away from your property ( this may depend on where you live and meeting environmental protection standards.)
    * Please don't put any oil from the old tank to new one, if you chose to get a new oil tank.
    * If you can install the new tank indoors, such as your basement; you may even get better performance from the burner (As I was explained by someone that when its cold outside heating fuel become thick and the burner has to work little harder, thus reducing performance slightly (so calculate lost performance by 40 years, it could add up to lots of savings.

    @STEVEusaPA thanks for pointing out me unintentionally and not knowingly including the prices on this posting initially.

    Modified without prices.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,106
    @LS123 Haven't you been here long enough to know you're not suppose to post pricing?
    steve
    pecmsgCanuckerLS123
  • LS123LS123 Member Posts: 97
    @STEVEusaPA,
    Honestly, no. I started about a week and half ago. probably missed the guidelines on pricing.
    Thank you SO much for pointing that out, and going forward I will not post pricing.
    Best!
    \-LS
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