One of the problems with living in a temperate zone in the northern hemisphere is the rain. Lots of rain. There’s been quite a bit recently, in fact and if you have oil-fired central heating, you won’t want any water making its way into your storage tank. The presence of water in an oil tank can create sludge problems over time, as well as corrosion. Even worse, it might get into the pipes, where it could freeze, and we all know what that means – a very expensive call-out and a few very cold days!
You need to be vigilant about water in your oil tank – it’s no good if you’ve made use of the low home heating oil prices just to end up spending a fortune on a bust pipe, eh? You need to be alert to the presence of water and then you need to deal with it as soon as you get a hint of the old H2O.
Detecting water in the first place
This is easier than you may have imagined. You can buy water-detecting paste from most DIY stores or oil suppliers. It’s a sticky paste that changes colour in the presence of water. You merely apply it to a rod and insert the rod into the tank until it touches the bottom. Then, you remove it and examine the paste to see if there’s any water and how deep it is – it’ll sink to the bottom of the tank as it’s denser than your oil.
Getting rid of the water
If you find even a small amount of water, you must remove it as quickly as possible. If your tank is a bit older, it may have a sludge removal valve at the bottom which you can open to drain out the sludge and water.
If you don’t have this valve, then don’t worry, there’s a couple of great options.
A water removal sponge
These special sponges are weighted so they sink to the bottom of the tank and once they’re in place, they get to work. They’re made of super-absorbent polymers that suck up the water but don’t let any oil in. Once one sponge is full you may need another, but they’ll get the job done.
A water trap
A water trap doesn’t remove water from your tank; it stops it getting into your boiler system. It separates water out from your heating oil as it travels into the heating system, so there’s no chance of damage to the boiler itself. Of course you’ll need other ways to remove the water from the tank, but this device will prevent any serious boiler problems.
Monitoring and cleaning your system regularly helps your boiler to run more smoothly and efficiently, which saves money and hassle in the long run.
When you’ve drained off water and sludge from your oil tank, you mustn’t pour it down a drain! This could contaminate water bodies and harm wildlife, so instead, take the water to a specialised oil disposal site – most rubbish tips have one.