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Fuel Oil Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

Avoiding a Common Heating Oil Problem

Posted: April 1, 2019

Heating oil storage tanks are not complicated devices – certainly not as complicated as today’s high-tech heating equipment – but they do require at least some attention to run safely and reliably year after year.

One problem that you might encounter with a heating oil tank is a buildup of heating oil sludge – a mix of dirt, rust, and oxidized fuel (that can jam your fuel lines and rob your system of efficiency (fuel oxidizes when water condenses inside the tank and interacts with bacteria inside the fuel…more on that below). Most of the time, your fuel line avoids drawing in this sludge, but a routine heating oil tank fill-up can stir sludge into the fuel mix.

So how do you avoid this problem?

The most obvious way to prevent heating oil sludge (or any other heating tank problem) is to have your heating equipment professionally maintained every year. An expert will notice the early warning signs of a heating tank problem, and will work to avoid the conditions that can lead to one.

The second way to avoid heating oil sludge problems is to keep your heating oil tank at least half full year-round.

A tank that contains more air than fuel will accumulate condensation (water) on its interior walls quickly as temperatures change (as warm spring air arrives, for example). This condensation creates two big problems for your heating oil tank: first, it creates a perfect environment for the sludge-enhancing bacteria growth. Second, it will eventually wear away the bottom of your tank (since water is heavier than oil, it will sink to the bottom of your tank and cause corrosion).

The bottom line

Heating oil sludge can become a costly problem if left untreated – but with a little care and vigilance, you can avoid the problem and keep your equipment running with smooth efficiency when you need it most.

Need heating oil tank maintenance or a heating oil top-off this spring? We can help. Contact us today for heating system service or reliable fuel delivery in our Sullivan County service area.