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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    9

    Default Heating Oil Ice Chunks & Maybe Gelling

    Post #1.... why else, I've got a problem

    Woke up this morning and there was a chill in the air....inside the house. Kind of knew what happened as it's become an annual occurance when the cold sets in. Oil fired water heater was out as well. There was no oil getting to either the furnace or water heater. Ended up taking the line off the outside oil tank outlet and poked a wire rod through the pipe to break loose small chunks of what appeared to be ice that went into the coffee can, put it all back together, and got things running again. Was only about +20 Deg F outside and I remember having this problem except when it was colder.

    Usually I have an electric heat tape wrapped on the line and turned on, but this year I forgot about it. My oil company says they put an anti-gelling additive in when they deliver oil, but this doesn't seem to be effective. They had said more can be put in (my expense) with no ill effects. They've suggested putting the oil tank in the cellar, but a small bulkhead and little room in the cellar sort of prevents this.

    This problem has seemed to have worsened up in the last few years and I know the tank likely has accumulated some sludge and water. I have a setback thermostat on the heat so the furnace may not run for several hours during the night. The lack of oil flow during this period probably doensn't help.
    I'm looking for some ideas to minimize or prevent this from occuring.

    1) How effective is "Hot 4 in 1" or similiar additive? Is it essentially the same stuff the oil guy puts in?
    2) Can an oil tank be "cleaned"? Pump out the sludge and water on the bottom?
    3) The heating tape seems to help, but on occasion has burned out and lost heat and not known until the furnace quits.
    4) Is the quality of heating getting worse and will a biofuel mix be worse?

    Thanks in advance...

    Mark...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,836

    Default Re: Heating Oil Ice Chunks & Maybe Gelling

    You should have an in-line filter to remove the sludge and water. You can add kerosene to stop jelling.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Heating Oil Ice Chunks & Maybe Gelling

    I have an inline filter with the wool/felt cartridge in the cellar just after where the line enters and water does appear to make it through, at least I'm seeing some in the oil when I bleed the lines for a restart. How much kerosene usually used for 200-250 gallons of #2 heating oil? I was really hoping to find a better alternative than kerosene($$$).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    556

    Default Re: Heating Oil Ice Chunks & Maybe Gelling

    MARKF48:

    Outside fuel line & tank gelling and fuel flow problems are a perennial problem in cold locations.

    The ultimate solution, as mentioned is to somehow get an inside tank---I strongly feel this can be done even in cases where there is very limited room in the bulkhead---most local codes allow a tank within 5' to 10' of the oil burner.

    An outside tank is a bad compromise that has to be tolerated on a temporary basis until something better can be arranged---the 4 in 1 Hot is a great stop-gap solution that costs ~$4 for an 8 oz. bottle & is available at Home Depot/Lowe's---just empty a bottle in at each fuel fill & you're good to go---at least until next fill-up.

    Another good idea is to have a fuel line installed thru to top entry of one of the screw-on fittings---this is much preferred over a bottom connector fuel line that is sure to freeze up when the moisture/water collects at the bottom of the tank & freezes the bottom line solid.

    Drill a 3/8" hole in one of the top steel filler caps, install a flare nut at the top & solder a straight 4' 3/8" copper tubing line onto it, use a portable flaring tool to flare the top of the copper line & make a similar flared connection to the line that goes to the oil burner---the inside 3/8" tube should sit about 1" above the bottom of the oil tank inside the tank.

    The perennial problem with outside tanks is WATER CONDENSATION---when the sun hits a half-full, cold 20 degree tank, water condensation forms at the top portion of the tank, sinks down to the bottom of the tank & fouls up the oil---it also combines with traces of sulfur in the fuel & forms a mild sulfuric acid solution that collects at the bottom of the tank & eventually rots out the tank bottom---a common occurance with outside tanks.

    Another great solution is to consider a ROTH SAFETY TANK---which holds 275 gallons & has a dimension of 5'high, 2.3' wide & 3.5' long---figure $400 to $500 for the double-walled tank which can fit in a very small space in any bulkhead.

    Even if you have to excavate a small space inside the bulkhead to accomodate one of these tanks, it's extremely important to get the tank inside & end your headaches over this once & for all---this can be a DIY project if you want to save some $$$---there will be no more water condensation problems & the fuel will burn more efficiently & save you more $$$ in that regard.

    http://www.roth-usa.com
    Last edited by NashuaTech; 12-13-2009 at 11:43 PM.

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