Our choice for installing a new heating system is shaped more by the quality of furnace that it has, rather than the fuel storage tank.

It is imperative that due diligence is undertaken to clean, maintain and restore the fuel tank.

If you have an oil furnace coupled with a heating tank, it can be a significant source of unnecessary hidden costs, especially if the base has been built up of substandard materials.

If you have inherited your heating oil tank from the previous owner of your house.

It is imperative that you get it assessed to establish a baseline. Follow the below-mentioned checklist to ensure your safety and to narrow down the costs of cleaning and maintenance for your heating oil tank.

This would help you ensure that your tank is working efficiently and does not weigh a lot on your wallet in the longer run.

Of course, nobody wants to wake up on a cold winter morning without heat, just because of negligence and reluctance to get the heating oil tank cleaned, especially when one has a family to look after.

You may choose to clean the tank on your own, but in case you feel that it’s a daunted task, it’s better to have a professional on board.

Does Your Heating Oil Tank Really Need Cleaning?

Contrary to the popular beliefs, the oil tanks don’t necessarily need due to the tar buildup. It’s usually the small pollutants that cause the problem instead of the thick ones.

Check your heating oil tank for sludge. It is a major by-product or residue of oil can be a major nuisance when dealing with heating oil tank. It can accumulate over time and can clog the fuel line or fuel filter.

Your heating oil tank is an important part of your heating system, ensure to clean it regularly.

Image courtesy: griffithenergyservices

As a result, when the tank that gets filled with oil has a different temperature than the source tank, the difference between the temperature of the two tanks causes water vapor to condense, which consequently causes the formation of sludge.

To avoid sludge formation, always make sure that when the tank is delivered to your home, ask the technician if they notice any sludge.

With their experience and knowledge, they would be able to identify and respond to you better than anyone else.

Moreover, check out for tank corrosion, any visible sign of rust and corrosion should raise the alarm for addressing the issue as soon as possible.

If it’s a small patch, then you might want to paint or spray an anti-rust spray on the body to mitigate the issue, however, if the problem persists, consider seeking a bit of expert advice.

Moreover, oil contamination and corrosion can result in damaging the furnace and may block the filters and supply valves, thereby increasing the maintenance and repair costs.

How Frequently Should the Oil Tank Be Cleaned?

The frequency varies with the extent of your usage and the size of the tank. Hence, the more you use it, the more are the chances that you’ll get it fueled, and consequently, the frequency of cleanup may rise.

Experts recommend that a standard sized tank should be cleaned up once every three years.

You can even extend it to getting it cleaned once every three to five years as long the frequency of usage is quite nominal.

You may ask your technician to advise you on the frequency of the oil tank cleanups as well.

Apart from the frequency of your usage, it is also essential that you consider factors such as experiences such as loose vent caps that allow insects, moisture or air to make their way into the tank.

Moreover, if you are cautious above the input and formation of sludge in your tank, you can sit back and relax for a more extended period.

Cleaning the Heating Oil Tank

When the time has come that you should wash your heating oil tank, you may choose to do it on your own, or outsource it to your technician.

We would recommend that you choose the latter, however, if you are short on budget, you should muster the courage to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

Heating oil sludge or black sludge is a solid or gel in motor oil caused by the oil gelling or solidifying, usually at temperatures higher than 100 degrees Celsius.


Heads up: this can be quite a messy job!

Alright then, apart from some hands-on experience of cleaning up dirty oil tanks on your own, you’ll need, or you’ll have to arrange the following stuff to proceed: disposable containers, cleaning rags, air hose, water hose, denatured alcohol, TSP cleaner, and a portable air pump.

Step 1: Drain the Heating Oil Tank

Even before starting off with the cleaning, ensure that you have drained the tank completely. You can get a disposable container or a bucket and extract all the remaining oil via the drain valve of the tank.

You may use a plastic container for this purpose, as it is easier to carry around as compared to aluminum or wooden crates.

Place a lid on the container when the oil has been extracted and shove it in the corner so that it doesn’t spill.

Now, place another container under the drain valve and spray a stream of water into the tank. Continue this process until you see clear liquid draining out of the tank. Now place the cap back on the valve.

Step 2: Cleaning the Tank

Now that oil has been extracted, it’s time to clean the tank. Before doing so, please ensure that the tank is empty.

Spray some trisodium phosphate into the tank along with water by the ratio of one is to five.

Depp clean the heating oil tank

Place an air hose on the top of the tank and turn on the air pump. Allow the solution to work for at least 12 hours.

Once that’s done, open the drain valve and empty the solution into a container.

Finally, spray some more water into the tank and extract the remaining solution into the container as well.

Step 3: Dry the Tanks

Finally, you’ll want to dry the tanks out completely to make sure that there is no moisture left behind in the tanks. Excessive moisture can contaminate the fuel and ruin its quality.

To dehydrate the tank, get some denatured alcohol (around 3 gallons should suffice). Pour it at different angles on all the internal walls and floors, making sure that there’s no corner left behind.

Dry your heating oil tank

Next, make sure that you connect the air hose to the tank and turn on the pump. Let it run for an hour until the alcohol dries up and absorbs all the excess moisture inside the tank.

When all the moisture is absorbed, your tank is ready to be refilled and used again.

Safety and Precaution: Some Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

The installation, maintenance, and cleanup of the tank can be an extensive and expensive affair if you don’t take care of the petty, yet necessary steps.

Firstly, make sure that you have an appropriate set of equipment in place. Wear your gloves, masks, and goggles even before attempting to clean your heating oil tank.

Make sure that the entire system is shut off before handling the heating oil tank.

We would recommend you disconnect the heating oil tank with the rest of the system.

It may be a little time consuming and may require a lot of effort, but it would ensure safety for you.

Also, don’t allow kids or pets into the area while you are at work.

Any exposure to the unprotected stuff may place the life of your loved ones in jeopardy.

Moreover, when you are done with the extraction, make sure that you dispose of the contaminated materials properly.

Finally, when in doubt, don’t feel free to call an expert. It’s way better than to seek assistance rather than surmising and daring to pull off the stunt at your home.

Is it Worth it to Maintain and Clean the Heating Oil Tank?

A heating oil tank is an important, yet of pivotal importance to your home, and perhaps, to the safety and well-being of your family.

Therefore, spending some amount on the maintenance and cleanliness of the tank.

Admittedly, it’s an investment that’s worth it. Here are some of the reasons why should you do so:

Getting a New Heating Oil Tank is Expensive:

Take our word: make the most of your existing tank unit. Getting a new heating oil tank can cost you thousands of dollars, including the de-installation of the old unit and the installation of a new one.

Even if you are inheriting a used tank at your new home, it’s more feasible to have it cleaned and inspected rather than spending a small, yet significant fortune behind a new one.

The inspection might help you identify the leaks, damages, rust, and slug in the existing unit so that you can do your math from that point.

A little repair might suffice and save you some bucks which you could spend elsewhere.

Oil Prices are Spiraling Up:

Considering the recent hikes in gas prices in recent years, we can safely say that the trend might continue in the next few years. Even in the best of the times, this may not be something that you’ll like to squander.

Therefore, if you are not wary or careful about it, this might snowball into a huge waste of time and money.

If your tank is not maintained correctly, the leakages in the tank can multiply, consequently resulting in frequent top-ups, and emergency deliveries – an emergency proposition which you would certainly not like to bear.

Environmental Cost and Impact

One of the common issues when dealing with the maintenance of the heating oil tank is overlooking the ecological impact on the surroundings as well as your budgets.

The disposal of an oil tank is usually a substantial expense in case it is found out that the oil leakage has potentially contaminated the ground and the water.

By investing the proper maintenance and wellness of the oil tank, you’ll want to make sure that you are not spending your hard-earned money in the right way at the right place and at the right time.

Removal and Installation of the Tank is Expensive

Even though you might be an expert in installing the tanks, this may not validate the fact that installation and removal of the heating oil tank is an expensive, time-consuming and an overly complicated affair.

Firstly, digging out the tank from the basement is itself complicated: you’ll need diggers and a winching system, and in some instances, even a crane.

You might want to consider ripping and cutting the tank apart, but that not also be the most feasible option as it can result in spills and unnecessary mess.

Overall, it’s a bad idea to get your tank removed, except of course, when there’s no other way around it.

Most of the oil tanks come with a warranty, usually around 10 years or so. Under most of the circumstances, often when the tank is less than two decades old, the age of the tank is mentioned on the body.

That gives it a considerable lifespan to work with it, however, as your tank ages, and the number of days to the end of the warranty are counted, keep a close eye on the leaks or any potential damages, as it is usually around this time that the health of the tank starts to deteriorate rapidly.

However, if you are disposing of your heating oil tank anyways, and replacing it with a new one, check out the dealers who are willing to offer you to a bargain in exchange of the old one.

Survey for the heating oil tank prices online as well as in person. Also, approach various dealers for the service fee involving the removal and installation of the tank from or to its location.

Under most circumstances, the technical expert would like to survey and visit your place before issuing the final quote.

We hope that you would invest and make a better choice in cleaning your heating oil tank properly so that it stays with you for a very long time.