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Heating oil tank

Old 11-07-2014, 07:02 PM
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Default Heating oil tank

At one of my properties I have an oil steam boiler that at one time provided heat for the home. The last time this was used was in 1994 ish due to mechanical problems, and the home has been heated by wood/coal stove and pellet stove since. The oil tank is in the basement, and was run dry in 1994.

I am installing a new furnace and my question is, am I asking for problems using the old oil tank which has not been filled for 20 years? Should I expect sludge and so forth in the tank? Will the tank develop leaks once filled?

Is there a rule of thumb for this?
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Old 11-07-2014, 07:12 PM
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Empty steel tank vented to outside? Count on rust. Any residual fuel will be rancid.
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Old 11-07-2014, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by PMaine View Post
At one of my properties I have an oil steam boiler that at one time provided heat for the home. The last time this was used was in 1994 ish due to mechanical problems, and the home has been heated by wood/coal stove and pellet stove since. The oil tank is in the basement, and was run dry in 1994.

I am installing a new furnace and my question is, am I asking for problems using the old oil tank which has not been filled for 20 years? Should I expect sludge and so forth in the tank? Will the tank develop leaks once filled?

Is there a rule of thumb for this?
Not sure how old your tank is but a 20 yr old tank should be like new. The oil in the tank will not be rancid and should still be usable. There should be a metal tag on the top of the tank that should have the date of manufacture. RUNNNING the tank dry wont give you an empty tank so you should be fine unless the tank is very old.
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TUNEE View Post
Not sure how old your tank is but a 20 yr old tank should be like new. The oil in the tank will not be rancid and should still be usable. There should be a metal tag on the top of the tank that should have the date of manufacture. RUNNNING the tank dry wont give you an empty tank so you should be fine unless the tank is very old.


Any competent Furnace/boiler/heating pros should be able to take care of this. It is not a major job to pump out and or clean that tank. Just suspect the inline canister filter to be the culprit if you have any problems - they are cheap to change..
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:52 PM
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Most home inspectors have the ability to measure the tank thickness. I would get it measured to see where you stand. If the tank is 50+ years old you may be better off just replacing it.
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Old 11-08-2014, 04:56 AM
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A tank over 20-25 years old is succeptable to rupture due to corrosion. Unless there is a service that can scope the tank I would not keep it service.

My parents tank went about 25 years before rupturing. Talk about a mess.
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Old 11-08-2014, 05:36 AM
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I am sure your spending more then a couple pennies for this new system. If it were me, I would add a few more to just have a new one installed. They are not that expensive and then your are good to go without that nagging feeling of what if....
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Old 11-08-2014, 06:01 AM
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If an old tank lets go and your not around ? Insurance co's are excluding oil coverage any way they can !
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Old 11-08-2014, 06:13 AM
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I did oil tank abandonments for years just change the tank now
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Old 11-08-2014, 06:15 AM
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Oh and I guarantee there is 5-10 gallons of sludge in the tank even tho it was run "dry"
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bjm9818 View Post
Most home inspectors have the ability to measure the tank thickness. I would get it measured to see where you stand. If the tank is 50+ years old you may be better off just replacing it.
The guage of the tank is stamped on the tank plate.
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by t4000 View Post
If an old tank lets go and your not around ? Insurance co's are excluding oil coverage any way they can !


First of all many states have a fund that covers remedation regardless of insurance... less a 500 dollar deductable to the home owner.

Second of all most home owners policys do cover remediation cost as its considered property damage. Many states even require insurance companies to cover polution even on general liability policys to cover a service tech incase he were to cause a release where as in the past releaeses were usually only attached to an auto policy.

Last edited by TUNEE; 11-08-2014 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by BACKTOTHESEA View Post
A tank over 20-25 years old is succeptable to rupture due to corrosion. Unless there is a service that can scope the tank I would not keep it service.

My parents tank went about 25 years before rupturing. Talk about a mess.
A twenty five year oil oil tank is not any more succeptable to rupture than a new tank. Most residential oil tanks located in basements are much older than 25 years.
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by TUNEE View Post
A twenty five year oil oil tank is not any more succeptable to rupture than a new tank. Most residential oil tanks located in basements are much older than 25 years.
This is true, I've cleaned/cut up/ removed hundred of basement tanks. "Most" 50+ year old tanks were SOLID old school construction but guess what? I've also responded to dozens of calls about ruptures and after seeing what 250 gallons of spilled #2 oil looks like in a finished basement I'd say your plain nuts not to replace the tank now
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:07 AM
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Replace it and make a trailer cooker out of the old one.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:11 AM
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If allowed, I would abandon it in place. Make sure its empty as much as possible, then fill it with flowable fill and forget about it, Put a new tank out where its easier to service and keep an eye one.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by SeaSquid631 View Post
This is true, I've cleaned/cut up/ removed hundred of basement tanks. "Most" 50+ year old tanks were SOLID old school construction but guess what? I've also responded to dozens of calls about ruptures and after seeing what 250 gallons of spilled #2 oil looks like in a finished basement I'd say your plain nuts not to replace the tank now
The OP has not said how old the tank is. It may be very very old and in need of replacement and he should be able to determine the age of the tank by reading the plate. One advantage to a new tank is that some manufacturers build safeguards into the new tanks that can withstand the pump pressures of a delivery truck and thus avoid most of the calls seasquid gets called out on.

One other thing you might want to consider OP since you are putting in a new system, is switching your fuel to propane if you determine you need a new tank.

Depending on which state you live in, there are some rebates available that might be worth a couple grand and even more with incentives from your propane dealer. Putting the expense of the oil tank toward that new system could really reduce your over all investment and give you a pretty efficient system for a lot less money.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by cphilip View Post
If allowed, I would abandon it in place. Make sure its empty as much as possible, then fill it with flowable fill and forget about it, Put a new tank out where its easier to service and keep an eye one.
Flowable fill is four times as expensive as removing the tank. Would also make it kind of tough to remove the tank if you want to remodel the basement in the future as the tank would weigh about 12 thousand lbs and would be difficult to move. This method is usually reserved for underground tanks where the removal is not feasable.

The most important thing one needs to do when you abandon a tank is to be sure to remove the fill and vent so a delivery truck cant hook up to it when they show up at the wrong address.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TUNEE View Post
and thus avoid most of the calls seasquid gets called out on.

.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TUNEE View Post
be sure to remove the fill and vent so a delivery truck cant hook up to it when they show up at the wrong address.
X2
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