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Anyone ever have their fuel oil tank cleaned?
Old 03-28-2013, 04:01 PM   #1
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Anyone ever have their fuel oil tank cleaned?

I heat with wood and basically use oil just for hot water. I have my furnace cleaned every 24 months vs every 12 months. The company that cleans my 14 year old furnace (my tank is 14 years old too as this was new construction in 1998-1999) agrees I don't need to clean the furnace every year since I use about 200 gallons of fuel oil per year if that much.

However, when they changed the filter for the tank last spring it was very dirty after 24 months. They suggested I change the filter in 12 months to see the condition that the filter is in after just 12 months.

So yesterday I had them come, it was almost 12 months. I had the guy show me how to do it and it is pretty easy so I can do it for about $1.50 for the cost of the filter vs a service call that'd cost from $100 to $150! Them coming to the house is the expensive part of this cuz for another $60 I could have them clean the furnace too!

So when the filter was removed it was just about as bad after 12 months as it was after 24 months. The guy says the tank has sludge in it and should be cleaned. I believe him cuz we had to open the valve to run oil through the line with the canister off because when we were bleeding it no oil would come out - crap was blocking the output into the canister. The furnace runs fine but doing the maintenance allowed some crude to clog the line.

So here's the point of the thread after some background info. To clean the tank they pump out the oil then suck out the stuff on the bottom. Because these tanks are vented to the outside they get condensation in them, he noticed some water in the oil we saw in the process. Failure to clean a tank will cause the tank to rust and eventually leak resulting in having to replace the tank. The cost to clean the tank is $300! This is something you would do say every 5-8 years not every year. I have no idea the cost to pump out the oil, remove the leaking tank, replace it with a new tank but I expect it is considerable!

Does anyone have their tank cleaned? Has anyone heard of doing this? This is new to me but then I'm not knowledgeable in this area.

TIA!
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:03 PM   #2
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In my old house I had a similar problem with sludge/sediment in the tank that would occasionally plug the filter and cause the furnace to stop running.

There was something (tablets or a solution) that the tech put in the tank that allegedly dissolved the sludge. I'm not sure if the dissolved sludge stayed in the tank (on top of the fuel oil) or was burnt along with the oil as the furnace ran.

We also had standing instructions with the fuel oil supplier to have more frequent deliveries and to fill the tank slowly so whatever was in there wouldn't get stirred up as much and clog the filter.

The above seemed to work for us (we sold the house so I'm not sure what has happened since).

It sounds like it wouldn't hurt to try any of the above and see if it helps. Worst case is that it doesn't and you still have to ante up the $300 for a cleaning.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:46 PM   #3
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I had a similar problem a couple of years ago and treated my tank with HOT 4-in-1 Heating Oil Treatment. It is supposed to take care of sludge and water problems. I got a couple of bottles of it on Amazon for $17 ea and put it in each time I got fuel oil. Haven't had a problem since. Definitely worth a try.
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:38 PM   #4
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This thread makes me appreciate how lucky we are to have natural gas here in most of the the mid-west (parents home in the boonies was on oil until the gas line finally got close enough to connect to). It is so trouble free it isn't even funny, and far cheaper than fuel oil. We tend to take it for granted.

No deliveries, no sludge build up, no tank. We've only had one outage in over 40 years that I've lived in NG heated homes, and that was a scheduled maintenance/upgrade, and they came in and re-lit our pilots when the gas was turned back on. It burns clean, so even though 'they' recommend an annual furnace cleaning, I just vacuum/blow the dust every few years - never had one serviced. But oil burners build up soot and really do need attention.

And it looks like NG prices will be coming down (or at east not rising). Win-win!

I never thought about it, but in areas with fuel oil furnaces, do they have fuel oil water heaters? Or a combo-boiler?

And why don't they have NG in the east? Is it just too hard to run the pipe with the all the rock?

-ERD50
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
....I never thought about it, but in areas with fuel oil furnaces, do they have fuel oil water heaters? Or a combo-boiler?

And why don't they have NG in the east? Is it just too hard to run the pipe with the all the rock?

-ERD50
We had a fuel oil powered boiler that ran water to each of our 5 zones. One of the 5 zones had a heat exchanger that provided our domestic hot water.

We had NG in our city but about 20 years ago a house blew up as a result of the line not being properly maintained and that was the end of that. But many east coast cities have NG. No harder to run through rock than electrical or telephone or sewer.
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:57 AM   #6
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This thread reminds me that we love our all-electric house. We do have two wood burning fireplaces and a standby generator in case the electricity fails.
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:11 PM   #7
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Is your oil tank outside? Just converted from oil to propane after having this system for 23 years and it never occurred to me to clean the oil tank (indoor/basement tank). Did the burner each year. No one ever said a word about our oil tank.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:00 PM   #8
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The tank is in the basement.

There is NG but you have to live in an area where there are gas lines. I'm out in the sticks and houses are far apart so there never will be gas lines around here, you see that in high population areas. 2 people on this road have propane deliveries but my house was built with an oil fired boiler, I have a Mega-Store hot water heater so that's how it'll remain, I see no reason to do an expensive conversion just to resolve the oil tank issue. I would like a gas stove to cook on vs electric but the ex was adamant about not having gas in the house.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:12 PM   #9
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Keeping the tank topped up will help long-run with concerns on condensation (no space for air with water vapor).
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:20 PM   #10
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I buy just 100 gallons at a time because I use so little and hope for a better price down the road but that never happens. What causes the sludge? Is this a process caused by water? I googled
HOT 4-in-1 Heating Oil Treatment


I'm a bit nervous putting additives into the tank. My concern they'll cause problems in the furnace but this sounds promising. I'll call the company Monday and see what they say. This is pretty inexpensive stuff if it'll remove sludge build up over 14 years.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:36 PM   #11
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I have had fuel oil previously and if it was me, I would never pump out & clean the tank.
Maybe after 25 years, I might start thinking about it.

When I tore down my previous home to construct the new one, same lot, I removed the UG oil tanks (30 YO) and they looked great inside.

Your instance may vary.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:34 AM   #12
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Anyone else have experience with Hot-4-in-1 or sludge in their tank?
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:16 PM   #13
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My understanding of it is if the tank is in the warm basement and you get a delivery of cold fuel oil, condensation can form inside the tank some of which can then mix with the fuel forming this pudding like stuff at the bottom of the tank. The filter catches that pudding stuff before it goes into the burner.

I use a can of oil tank sludge treatment at every fill up. I like to let the fuel oil tank run down to about 50 gallons or so before each fill up. Just before delivery I shut off the boiler and put the sludge treatment into the tank. The new fuel circulating in the tank mixes it all up and helps the sludge treatment to do its thing. About an hour or so after delivery I turn the boiler back on.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:56 PM   #14
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FWIW. At my old house had oil heat. The tank was probably 50 years old, in the basement. When I bought the house, the had a "belly band" to plug a leak on the bottom.

It was tha tway for the next 10 years. One day I decided it was time for a new tank. There wre no plugging issues or too filthy filters.

On a fine summer day the crew came and disconnected the tank, pumped about 150 gallons out bsck into their tanker. and printed a ticket for the amount as credit.

Next they disconnected the tank and attmpted with four hefty guys to remove it from the basement. They groaned and hollered, it dd not budge.

The foreman surmised that there was a lot of sludge in the tank. He called for four more hefty boys who got yanked off from other jobs.

With eight guys pushing, shoving, and some help from 4x4" by 8 foot levers they finally got it out. Once out of the basement they had a crane lift it on to their truck. Every one of them looked into the old tank, the consensus was that bout 1/3 of a 275 gallon tank was sludge.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:35 PM   #15
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Wow that's quite a story.

I called FPPF today and talked to a rep. They don't sell to the public but they gave me the name of several companies that sell their products locally. Better than Hot-4-in-1, based upon my explanation to her, is
SBG Fuel Oil Sludge Remover. FPPF



She suggested 16 oz in 275 gallons and then next fill up use 8 oz and the next the last 8. It's not that expensive, Amazon has it for just under $10 and locally I'll see. Maybe I'll get 2 32 oz bottle if that give frees shipping at Amazon if locally it's $18 a bottle. This product sounds like it'll burn off the water and sludge by mixing with it.
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