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How to Remove Water from a Oil Tank

Removing water from home fuel tank
Water Removal from Home Fuel Tanks

Oil tanks are designed to keep water out but there are instances where it can creep in. If it goes undetected for a period of time, you can begin to see problems within your heating system. There are 2 likely sources where water can get in your tank, rainwater and condensation. Knowing how and why water can infiltrate your system can help prevent problems arising within your heating system. Leaving water in your tank can cause it to rust, cause bacteria to form, or even freeze.

  • Rainwater: Outdoor tanks are more exposed to the elements and can, therefore, be more vulnerable to water. Overflow from gutters, lids being left off or even the age of your tank can open it up to receiving rainwater.

  • Condensation: Condensation can occur when the tank's interior temperature is cooler than the surrounding exterior temperature, the moist air cools down inside the tank, causing the water vapor in the air to become water droplets. These water droplets then cling to the interior walls of the tank and eventually settle at the bottom of the tank. A few water droplets don't pose a large problem, but condensation can accumulate significantly over time.

Oil rises above water, so you will need to do more than just look in your tank. If you are concerned your fuel has been exposed to water, the best way is to use water-finding paste. It allows you to "stick" the tank on the end of a stick and detect water by the paste changing colors. You can also ask your delivery driver to check the tank for you if you have a concern. If it has been determined you have water in your tank, you have a few options to remove it.

  • Drain it: The easiest is to drain your tank. If you have a metal tank, it should be equipped with a sludge valve where you can begin to drain your tank. This may not remove all the water but it's a good place to start. Ensure you are properly disposing of the fuel and DO NOT let it drain into the ground. Your local providers should be able to direct you where you can safely dispose of the fuel.

  • Pump Out: This usually will require a professional to assist with pumping out the fuel. Again this may not remove all the water but you can begin to remedy the problem.

  • Absorb the water: This can be done with a water-dispersant additive which is best when trying to remove small amounts of water. There is also something called a water-absorbent sock. These devices differ somewhat in shape and size, but they are typically made of cloth and are chemically treated to be extra-absorbent. Some water-absorbent socks are capable of soaking up around two cups of water.

Your best defense against this problem is to be proactive and catch any issues early on. Remember, water is only able to do serious damage when it is left to accumulate and eventually cause corrosion, freeze, or breed bacteria after removing any water detected, please consider the following options to help prevent the issue from arising again.

  • Keep lids closed on your tank

  • Routinely inspect your tank

  • Test your tank by conducting water tests frequently

  • Replace old tanks(the life of a metal tank runs anywhere between 15-20 years)

  • Clean your tank periodically by using a professional

  • Keep your tank filled since low levels invite condensation

Source: Smart Home Energy Blog

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