Combind Energy Services
Combind Energy Services

Home Heating Oil Sludge & How to Prevent it

Posted by Combined Energy Services on Dec 9, 2014 4:50:18 PM

There are many problems that may occur to your home's oil heating equipment while working hard during the winter heating months.  One thing that causes a multitude of problems is home heating oil sludge building up in the bottom of your tank - "tank sludge".  


Home heating oil impurities or "sludge" for short are particles that get trapped in the bottom of your fuel oil tank and build up over time.  Sludge is comprised of multiple types of impurities in your tank.  The two types of impurities that cause sludge are primarily water and solid particles. 

Water can enter your tank in a variety of ways over time.  Condensation is a huge culprit.  The same way you wipe the wetness off the inside of your windshield on a cold morning -- the same thing happens to your aboveground outside fuel oil tanks as t emperatures change.  This condensation formed from changing temperatures allows moisture into the tank, a little at a time, but with water being heavier than home heating oil, it drops to the bottom where it accumulates.  Bacteria can also be found in fuel oil tanks, most often introduced through leaking vents or in the fuel you purchase.  As water builds up in the tank, a film can build up on the surface referred to as "slime" by service techs 


Another culprit is buying home heating oil from non-reputable "discount" fuel companies.  These companies often don't have their own storage terminals, they simply reload their tank truck where ever they can find the cheapest oil and there have been all too many times where these discount guys use anything that's less expensive than pure fuel oil to suplement their product such as: used cooking oil / grease, waste oil from car dealerships, cleaning solvents from factories and recycled / reclaimed oil from areas where recyclers have pulled old oil tanks out for large industrial users.  Common trick amongst many of these "discounters" to 'cut' their oil with whatever is cheaper and will 'mostly' burn.  We've found that the "cheapest" oil on the wholesale market is often from the "bottom of the barge" and full of contaminents. 


Combined Energy Services doesn't fill our small delivery trucks from the cheapest 'rack' of the moment, we have long term supply contracts with trusted suppliers that guarantee the quality of their fuels through chemical analysis continually.  In addition, every load has detergent anti-sludge agents added at our own storage facilities where we control the quality of the products. 

The problems, damage and expensive service calls that tank sludge can cause are many.  Oil filter clogging, supply line clogging, strainer clogging, "fire-o-matic" valve / safety valve clogging, premature oil pump failure and oil burner failure are just some of the problems that occur due to tank sludge.  Although the problems and damage caused vary, they all lead to potentially costly repairs, home heating failure and a decrease in your burner's efficiency sending your heating money up the chimney.


Combined Energy Services has been delivering quality home heating fuel oil for almost 50 years and stake our reputation on the line every day with every delivery that our customers are getting only quality 100% fuel oil they deserve - not any underhanded "cutting" with other agents.  From the moment we pick up the fuels from the terminals in our own tractor trailers, to storing in our own local storage facilities to when we load the fuel in our fleet of certified delivery trucks - we're sure of the quality of the fuel we're delivering our customers.  


To avoid sludge build up - here are some tips:  

  • Always draw fuel oil off newly installed tanks off the bottom so small particultes don't get a chance to build up.
  • Tip new tanks towards the end where oil is being withdrawn so nothing builds up
  • Move your tank indoors or enclose to cut down on the huge daily temperature swings that cause tanks to "sweat" or drip condensation / water into your tank continually.
  • Change your filter(s) at least annually.
  • Have your heating system cleaned, serviced and set-up by a CES trained service technician using the latest electronic combustion analysis equipment to ensure the maximum burner efficiency.
  • Add a "sludge remover" from the local hardware store or ask CES to add during your annual servicing if you suspect any build up.
  • Have the bottom of old tanks 'sucked out' by a waste oil contractor.  Removing years of built up sludge this way can save you endless money on service calls.  Ask CES for information. 
  • Don't buy from unreputable "discount" fly-by-night fuel companies that can't verify where their fuel is coming from.  We find that often if they don't own their own local storage terminals - they are buying whatever the wholesalers want to dump with poor quality fuel at a cheap price for these guys. That saying "you get what you pay for" with the discount dealers ends up costing consumers more money with service calls, sludge build up and lost efficiencies with lower quality fuels / blends. 
  • If your tank is outdoors - blend kerosene or our "anti-gel" product in the cold winter months to make sure your oil keeps flowing.  
  • Stay with a consistent, reputable dealer that uses chemical additives to each truckload that helps to break down any sludge build-up.  This may cost a couple pennies more per gallon - but that money is well worth it for your efficiency, to ensure your burner stays running during the long cold winter nights and that you're getting your money's worth.


For more information - feel free to contact CES:  800-874-1975.   We've been taking care of the home heating fuel oil needs of consumers all over the region since 1968. Put our decades of experience and quality reputation to work for you this winter. 

Topics: Home Heating Oil Sludge & How to Prevent it

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