How to Remove Sludge And Clean a Heating Oil Tank

Cleanliness is very important and it is very necessary for everyone. Everyone must take care of every product or appliance they have but along with this the products that come along with these appliances also need cleaning.

A heating system is also coupled with a heating oil tank. We all know how important it is to take care of the heating system we have and clean them regularly. It is similarly very important to clean the heating oil tank too. When we install a new heating system for our home we provide more attention to the system and the furnace that it has got and ignore the fact that the fuel storage tank is also important.

Utmost care is required when it comes to clean and restore your fuel storage tank as it is one significant part of your heating system. Having an oil storage tank along with a heating furnace is going to cost you extra undoubtedly and this cost increases when the base of the tank is made using substandard sources or materials.

Cleaning and maintaining your heating oil storage tank and therefore you need to pay attention to this. Taking care and maintaining your oil storage tank will make sure that the whole system works efficiently and if you neglect this it will be a larger cost for you in the long run.

Today I am going to discuss the cleaning of a Heating Oil Tank. we will look at all the necessary things that one needs to do. If you are looking for the proper ways to clean a heating oil tank then you need to check the below-mentioned things and it will help you. Naturally, nobody wants to wake up without heat on a cold winter morning simply because the hot oil tank is negligent and unwilling, especially because you have your family to look after it.

You can clean the tank on your own but it’s easier to get a specialist on the board if you find it’s a challenging job.

Is it necessary to clean a Heating Oil Tank?

It is believed by many people that heating oil tanks do not necessarily require cleaning and this is because they are having tar buildup. However, the small pollutants are the culprits here and not the thick and large ones.

You need to check for sludge in your heating oil tank. Sludge is a byproduct of oil or residue which is to be taken into consideration as it is going to be a problem when you are cleaning your heating oil tank. It is a significant aspect that is a nuisance. Sludge can get accumulated near the fuel line or filter over a long time.

This generally happens due to the different temperatures of oil inside the tank and the source tank. Sludge is a factor that needs to be dealt with. The difference between the temperature of these two tanks further results in creating water vapor and this, in turn, creates sludge.

To avoid such types of things (formation of sludge) you need to ensure that when the tank is being shipped to your home you must ask the technician if they have seen any kind of sludge. This is because technicians have a piece of good knowledge of such things and therefore they would provide you with a good answer and explanation which would be better than anyone else.

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Also, it is crucial to check if there is any kind of rust or corrosion inside or on your tank, if you see any kind of rust or corrosion you need to take care of the issue as soon as possible. If there is a small amount of rust or corrosion then you can just paint that part and it will be okay then. You can also use anti-rust spray over the body to deal with the problem. If you are unable to tackle the issue you can ask the help of an expert.

This oil contamination and rust or corrosion can damage the furnace too and it will be a huge problem then. It can block the filters and the valves. This will later be a huge cost to be incurred so it is important to take care of such problems as soon as possible.

When to clean the oil tank and how frequently?

The time frame or the frequency for cleaning your oil tank will vary from person to person. As every person has a different usage pattern and the size of the tank also varies.

If you are someone who uses it heavily then it is going to require you to fuel it up regularly and also clean it and the frequency of cleanup might rise. It is said by the experts that if you are having a standard size tank then you will need to clean it every three years. This will also depend on the frequency of your usage. If you think that your usage is nominal then you can also extend it every 3 to 5 years.

If you do not understand how to measure the time frame for cleanup you can also seek help from a technician and he will properly advise you according to your usage. In addition to the frequency of your use, considerations such as tests such as loose vent caps are also important for you to remember, so that insects, moisture, or air can reach your tank. If you are worried about the formation of sludge then you can sit back to relax for a longer time.

How to clean a Heating Oil Tank?

If you feel that this is the right time to clean the heating oil tank and the time has come to do so then you should decide to do that on your own.

You can also seek help from a technician in case you have no idea how to do that or you do not want to do it on your own. It is recommended to go with the technician in such matters, however, if you are low on budget then you can get ready and do it on your own. This can be a challenging and messy job, we will look at the steps you need to follow to clean the dirty heating oil tank.

Things to gather

  • Disposable containers
  • Air hose
  • Cleaning rags
  • Water hose
  • Alcohol (denatured)
  • TSP cleaner
  • One portable air pump

Drain the tank of heating oil

The first thing that needs to be done is to drain the heating oil tank. You need to do this before the cleaning process. It is very important to ensure that the heating oil tank is completely drained.

You can use a disposable container and if you do not have one then you can also take the help of a bucket to remove the remaining oil from the drain valve that your tank has. If you are going to use a container make sure you use a plastic one as it would be easier to carry compared to aluminum and wooden crates. Once you have removed all the oil in the container you need to place a lid.

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Make sure you keep the container at one side so that you do not spill it. Now take one more container and place it under the drain valve and start spraying some stream of water inside the tank. You need to keep spraying this until you see the clean and clear liquid coming out from the shell. After this, you need to place the cap again on the valve.

The cleaning process

Once you are done extracting all the oil from the heating oil tank then you need to start with the cleaning process. Before starting do make sure that the tank is empty.

You need to get trisodium phosphate and spray it into the tank along with some water. The ratio should be one to five for this mixture. On top of the tank, position an air hose and trigger the air hose. Enable for at least 12 hours the solution to operate. Once you are done doing that you need to open the drain valve and empty the solution into a bottle. Spray more water into the tank to drain the rest of the solution in the container.

Make the tank dry

The last thing now to be done is to dry the tanks out. This needs to be done properly and for this make sure you check that there is no moisture left inside the containers. If there is a lot of humidity then it can ruin and contaminate the fuels.

If you want to desiccate the tank thoroughly then you need to make use of some denatured alcohol. Around 3 gallons of this will be needed. You need to pour the denatured alcohol at different angles everywhere. Make sure that you do not leave any angles. Then, make sure the air tube is attached and the pump turns on. Longer for an hour until the alcohol dries out of the bottle and loses all the remaining humidity.

If you absorb all the humidity, your tank will be ready for refilling and again use.

Reasons why one should maintain a heating oil tank

The cleaning and maintenance of a heating oil tank is a crucial thing and one should be very particular in this matter.

A dirty heating oil tank can be a big problem for your family and therefore it is necessary to take out some time to maintain it. I’ve mentioned some of the reasons why one should maintain a heating oil tank.

New heating oil is expensive to purchase

If you already have a heating oil tank then I must tell you that in case it is dirty then you need to clean it as soon as possible.

Once you’ll visit the market in search of a new heating oil tank or browse the internet for the same you’ll realize how costly they are nowadays so make sure to take good care of the existing one. Even if you have a dirty tank at your home it is still better to clean it instead of buying a new one. You must keep checking and inspecting the tanks regularly if there are any leaks or damages.

Keeping your oil tank clean and fixing it, whenever needed, will help you save a lot of money.

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Oil prices are getting high

Oils are getting expensive every day and looking at the hikes in these prices in the last five years we can say that this trend is going to stay like this in the next few years too.

If you have a dirty tank then your oil can get contaminated and you need to replace or refill it. If there are any kind of leakages then it might result in wastages of these expensive oils. This can be a huge problem which can’t be taken easily.

Environmental collision

One of the most common problems that have taken place in the maintenance of a heating oil tank is the ignorance of ecological and environmental impacts.

The disposal of the heating oil tank can be a very huge expense if there’s an oil leakage and it has destroyed or contaminated the water or the ground. You will want to make sure that you don’t waste your hard-earned money in the right way at the right time, by spending the correct oil tank maintenance and wellness.

Removal of the old tank and installing a new tank is costly

Even if you know how to install a heating oil tank and you are an expert in this work you cannot deny the fact that removal or installation of the oil tank can cost you a lot.

It is a time consuming and expensive process. The first thing is digging the tank out from the basement which is one of the most time and effort-consuming things. You’ll need diggers for this. Equipment like winching systems might also require a crane in some instances which can cost you a lot.

You can try cutting the tank apart but this is not a very ideal option as it can result in leakages and spills all over the place. Overall, removing the tank is a terrible idea, even if it’s the other way around of course. Most oil tanks have a warranty, typically around 10 years. The age of the tank is sometimes listed on the body when the tank is less than 20 years of age.

When the warranty period starts to expire you need to keep an eye on the tank as this is the time when the leakage and breakages might take place. If you are disposing of your heating oil tank and you have decided to buy a new one you must look for dealers who can take the old one and provide some discount on the new one in exchange for it.


Heating oil tanks need maintenance regularly and it is very important to clean them as the dust particle can cause a terrible problem.

In this article, we learned why it is necessary to clean and maintain a heating oil tank. We also saw the steps that one needs to follow to clean the heating oil tank. Experts recommend that cleaning an oil tank is necessary every three years. I have also mentioned the reasons why cleaning of a heating oil tank is necessary. I hope you find this article useful and relevant and now you know how to clean your oil tank.