Home Improvement

Cleaning your Heating Oil Tank

Looking after your heating oil tank is essential to avoid malfunction issues. You can clean your own heating oil tank, but it is usually advisable to have a professional do the job. Heating oil Shropshire can give advice and guidance on the maintenance of your heating oil tank, whilst also supplying your fuel. For those homeowners who use domestic heating oil North Wales, it is important to stay on top of tank maintenance in order to get the best quality.

Why do heating oil tanks need to be cleaned?

Sludge can accumulate in your oil tank over time; the problem with this is that sludge can clog the fuel line or even the fuel filter. Sludge is the byproduct of the condensation that occurs when the tank gets filled with oil that is a different temperature than the tank. The difference in temperature will cause water vapour to condense which then leads to sludge formation. When you get your fuel delivery, ask the technician if they can notice any sludge – they will be able to notice it before you will.

How often does an oil tank need cleaning?

To avoid the issues that can arise from sludge, it is a good idea to schedule a tank cleaning every three years – some might be able to extend this to every five years. The time frame between cleans relies on how much fuel is used annually; the technician will be able to advise you of your cleaning timeline. 

How much fuel you use annually isn’t the only factor, but you should also aim to receive frequent tank cleaning if you have experienced any loose vent caps that could have allowed insects, air or moisture into the tank. As a side note, when you don’t let the oil level fall too low, it can help to prevent sludge from entering the supply line or the fuel filter. 

How to clean your heating oil tank

Cleaning an oil tank is not a glamorous job, it’s going to get messy. Before you can begin, you’ll need the tank to be pumped out – this task is better handed to the professionals.

If you feel confident in your abilities, and want to try cleaning the tank on your own, you’ll need the following supplies; disposable containers, air hose, cleaning rags, denatured alcohol, water hose, TSP cleaner and a portable air pump. 

To drain the tank yourself you will need to grab a disposable container, place it carefully under the drain valve of the tank until all the oil has gone. When all the fuel has been drained, ensure there is a lid on the container and place it away from you to avoid spilling it accidently. Then place another container under the drain valve and spray some water into the tank. Keep spraying the water into the tank until only clear liquid is draining from it. Then place the cap back on the valve. 

The second step in the process is to clean the tank. When the tank is empty, fill it with water along with some TSP cleaner – for every gallon of water used, add in one cup of cleaner. Then place the air hose into the tank and turn on the air pump; let the solution work for 12 hours. Once it has been 12 hours, open the drain valve again and drain all the solution into a container. Then spray the inside of the tank with water.

The final stage is to dry your tank, this has to be done properly. You need to remove all excess moisture as it could ruin the quality of the fuel (which would make the cleaning process a waste of time!). Take three gallons of denatured alcohol and pour it into the tank at different angles. Ensure all the walls have a coating inside the tank; then place the air hose inside the tank again and turn on the air pump. Let the alcohol dry and run through its process of absorbing all the moisture. This process should take around an hour unless you have excess moisture. Then when all the moisture has been removed, fill your tank back up with fuel.