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Sludge in old line

rgar98
rgar98 Member Posts: 57
Hello,
Is there a rule of thumb about about when indoor oil tanks need to be replaced even if they have no apparent leaks or other problems? I think mine is about 45 years old! I've been living here for only one year, never had an oil-heated home before and learning as much as I can. I cut into the old oil line (I'm replacing it.) today and it was full of black sludge even though it ran well all last winter. The line I cut was about 2 feet from the tank and the filter is about 30 feet away near the furnace.
I'm eager to hear any and all suggestions.
Thanks.
Richard

Comments

  • rgar98
    rgar98 Member Posts: 57
    So I cut into my old fuel line (I'm replacing it with polyethylene-coated 3/8" copper) and I was surprised to see that the line was loaded with black sludge. The burner worked great last winter which was my first winter in this house and the first time I have lived in a home that had oil heat; so this is all new to me. The indoor tank and fuel line could be 45 years old and the tank looks to be in good condition.
    What can I do to slow down this sludge accumulation in the new line? [I can hear someone saying that I should get a new tank but that's not a possibility now.] The line I cut into was a few feet from the tank and the filter is close to the burner, about 30 feet away.

    Is another filter close to the tank something I should consider? If so, which filter would you recommend? Any other suggestions?
    Thanks again.
    (BTW, I live in Silver Spring, Maryland and the local Gas company, Washington Gas, wanted me to pay $16,000 to have a gas line to my house installed! My neighbor's home which is much older than mine has his gas meter about 10 feet away from my property line and all the homes down my street, which were built at the same time, have oil tanks.)
  • rgar98
    rgar98 Member Posts: 57
    I just remembered, maybe add another filter near the tank?
    SuperTech
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,115
    I would replace the line and put two filters on it. Other than that if the tank looks ok visually ...keep it. i would use a General 125A filter near the tank and a Garber spin on filter after that.
    Make sure to use flare fittings....no compression fittings and no Teflon tape.

    Before you put the filters on the tank, open the valve into a bucket and check the oil flow. You will probably see some sludge. If the oil flow is bad you may want to blow out the oil connection back in to the bottom of the tank
    SuperTech
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 429
    It might be better to install a top draw single pipe or use a 2 pipe system with a top draw and top return with sacrificing a portion of the oil in the tank to hold the sludge too.
    STEVEusaPASuperTech
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,446
    Don’t draw out the top of the tank, it will make your problems worse.
    Do what @EBEBRATT-Ed said (I actually like both filters at the tank, plus an OSV), and have your oil supplier start using an additive to help with the sludge.
    If the sludge is really bad, and the tank is that old, you may want to consider replacing the tank.
    And if/when you do, no matter what anyone tells you, absolutely do NOT put any of that oil into the new tank.
    steve
    SuperTech
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,827
    edited October 2020
    A proper pitched tank down hill to a Bottom feed tank installed in a dry environment the tank should last for ever . Install with 12" legs at the valve end 13" at the far end .It will give you the 1/4" pitch and high enough for the general filter at the valve to protect the oil line.. Filter and water catch .. Water and oil breeds sludge . If filter is at burner water will trap along oil line , breed sludge and plug .
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 378
    Big Ed_4 said:
    A proper pitched tank down hill to a Bottom feed tank installed in a dry environment the tank should last for ever . Install with 12" legs at the valve end 13" at the far end .It will give you the 1/4" pitch and high enough for the general filter at the valve to protect the oil line.. Filter and water catch .. Water and oil breeds sludge . If filter is at burner water will trap along oil line , breed sludge and plug .
    X2.  I recently removed a 20 year old tank that was installed like you just described.  The inside of the tank looked like new.
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 541
    Do you have a services company -- same as oil delivery company?

    Did you have the heating unit serviced ?

    -- with oil you have to have them serviced based on usage. When they get dirty or a little out they will burn more oil -- it's the nature of the beast.

    Whenever I buy a property with oil I always have the line checked when it's first serviced. It's not unusual to have some junk in the lines. No all heating oil companies are the same with delivery.

    With the tank inside a one pipe should be fine with a fliter .... outside --- I always add a Tigerloop w/ fliter
    Damon
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,446
    TAG said:


    With the tank inside a one pipe should be fine with a fliter .... outside --- I always add a Tigerloop w/ fliter

    Why? There are millions of one pipe, outside tank set ups without a tiger loop that work fine.

    steve
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 541
    Steve -- have always had problems with older outside tanks w/ one pipe. Especially with larger burners ...

    Tiger loop seems to be a cheap solution
    SuperTech
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,827
    edited October 2020
    I would use a tiger loop too with an out side top feed tank , yes . Top feed tank will have a short life and rot from the inside and maybe also from the outside from ground moisture .

    Same set up on slab with 1/4" pitch, but use the bottom feed , oil line pitched down into the basement with filter at the wall .. A OSV valve maybe needed . Then no need for tiger loop
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • super_snop
    super_snop Member Posts: 44
    I was in a similar situation. My uncoated copper line was buried in concrete and I replaced it with a poly coated line. My old line was filled with sludge. My tank was about 35 years old and looked like it was in okay condition. Last heating season I had a friend call me frantically when his tank let go and flooded his basement with 150 gallons of oil. His tank looked fine externally but someone had previously set it up with a top feed which left about 8 Inches of water/sludge in the bottom of his tank. I decided to replace my tank this year to avoid the headache he had.  When i cut my old tank open i scooped out about 10 gallons of sludge. I most likely could have gotten away with using an additive and an empty filter canister to catch the sludge little by little. I piped the new tank to new standards with a 2” vent and fill and now I’m no longer worried about It. I spent about $900 on materials and it was well worth the piece of mind in my opinion. 
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,715
    Double filtration with the setup that @EBEBRATT-Ed and @STEVEusaPA mentioned is your best solution for protecting the oil line and burner. I would also add some oil treatment to the tank on a regular basis.  

    If the oil line was that bad I would be concerned about the condition of the burner.  Even if it appears to be running well it probably really needs a new pump strainer and burner nozzle.  Get the whole thing cleaned and serviced.  Make sure a combustion analysis is performed, draft set properly and the burner tuned for a true zero smoke.