Fuel Oil In My Area - Have you ever wondered how heating oil tanks work? Or just want some general knowledge about the fuel oil tank? Today we can dive into that a bit.
In general, a heating oil tank has several very important parts. But before we go, let's look at the big picture, start at the top of the supply chain and work our way up.
Fuel Oil In My Area
First, there is an oil company that has hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil in storage. This oil is delivered to a domestic heating oil supplier and stored in sometimes small tanks. From there, the delivery driver will transfer the oil from the large tanks into a much smaller truck and they will then deliver some of the oil to your home.
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The oil delivery driver fills your tank, which is just a container for oil, as it consumes your oil-heated furnace. The oil is pumped into your home and connected to a furnace that burns the oil to provide heat, or your boiler will also provide hot water.
Now that we have the big picture, let's take a closer look at a few of these components.
The first heating oil - did you know that heating oil is the same as diesel fuel? Domestic heating oil is dyed red, so it can be easily distinguished from "street" diesel fuel. Although it is illegal to put red heating oil in your car or truck with diesel, it is okay if it is necessary to pour diesel into your heating oil tank. But it is very expensive.
The diesel you buy at the gas station is called "ON-ROAD" diesel, which means you pay highway tax on the fuel. These road taxes do not include domestic heating oil. However, it will not damage the firebox if you need to fill the tank with diesel if it is low on fuel. Diesel fuel on the road is green or yellow. Color is how you differ.
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Let's say we're talking about an above-ground tank either outside your house or in a basement or garage.
First we have the oil fill adapter. This is what the driver plugs into the tube when they arrive. This fitting creates a secure air seal to ensure no oil leaks during delivery.
Then we move on to what is usually a combination of whistle/ventilation/measurement. This is a very important part of the tank. The displayed gauge tells you if the tank is full, ¾, ½, ¼ or empty, with other measurements in between. This device usually serves as a fan.
When the fuel driver pours oil into the tank, the air inside must escape. The vent pipe will always have a spongy cover over it. Then inside this device is a "sprinkler" that extends a few centimeters into the tank. As air passes through it makes a hissing sound (obviously) as oil is pumped into the tank.
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When the tank is full, the oil touches the bottom of the whistle and stops the noise, so the driver knows to stop the oil flow. This is especially useful when your tank is out of sight in a basement or garage.
There are usually additional holes on the top of the tank as well. Sometimes these additional areas are "tucked in" with metal pipes because they are not needed. Other times you may have a different fitting for one of these switches where the copper oil line and/or return line is fed (we'll get to that in a minute).
Then the bottom of the tank (depending on the type of tank) will have another small opening. This is where the oil valve is usually installed. It will be a brass valve that pumps into the tank with brass piping attached. This will also allow you to "cut off" the flow of oil to the tank in the event of a leak or emergency.
Then depending on your home system you will either have a line system or a two line system. The only piping system will be the supply piping connected to the furnace only. This is what gets the heating oil from the tank to the furnace. A two-line system will have power and return. This second line returns excess oil to the tank. Not all furnaces or tanks have these two lines, nor are they required or necessary.
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So go back to the tank. If you have a device on the top of the tank where two copper lines are connected, then you have a supply and a return. Or if you have a single pipe setup it could be coming from the bottom OR top valve. It's good though, but usually the preferred method if it's possible that the oil supply is coming from the bottom of the tank. This gravity system helps you get the oil out of the tank.
Speaking of supply lines... These house lines should always be copper. The gauge can be 3/8" or ½" in line and can have a plastic coating to protect the copper. The copper is then connected to the furnace fuel filter and then to the furnace pump.
If the tank is outside and above ground, the tank legs can be placed on earthen lintels that support the weight of the full tank. This helps the feet hit the ground. The tank does not need to have a cast concrete base for ignition. This can be installed if desired, but it adds to the cost of the project and is not necessary. If the tank is in a garage or basement, it should be installed on a concrete floor. In some areas, the tank may be bolted or bolted to the ground.
If the tank is located in a flood zone, it can also be connected to the ground. This will prevent it from being lifted or washed away in the event of a flood.
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Why is my tank different from my neighbor's tank? Typically, most common above ground tanks are gray in color, but black and beige/sand colors are also very common. A beige color may indicate a tank with a long warranty. Some tanks are even red, but more often we see the Maryland red tank. That's when we know the tank is too old.
One manufacturer even makes tanks with an exposed metal shell. They are very beautiful.
But really, basic metal tanks can be any color the homeowner wants to paint. As long as the information sheets on the tank are visible, the gauge, filler cap, filler adapter and whistle hole (with the usual mushroom cap on top) are open and unobstructed, the rest of the tank can be painted any color you like. .. to want.
Wow, that's a lot just to get oil into my furnace to get heat or hot water! Yes, it's a lot. So if you have any problems with your tank, above ground or below ground, leave it to the professionals at GreenTrax. Don't call your plumber or HVAC company and assume they do heating oil tank installations all the time. Most don't. Best left to someone who does it every day.
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Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have a better understanding of the heating oil tank in your home. But if you don't call GreenTrax and we'll help you. 410-439-1085
If you have a home with an old oil tank that is no longer in use, the Maryland Department of the Environment requires that the tank be removed or left by a licensed contractor. If you have seen my other thread recently you will know that the fuel combustion system in my house is now suffering from a "drip" nose......which can be described as one of the copper lines coming in and shorting (from fuel oil slowly bubbling up sides of an inner copper pipe older than 20 years) and/or "air" coming from the tank piping to the Afriso filter. Or maybe both. My heater unit is still fine, but you can tell---0.4 to -0.5 vacuum on the intake manifold during burn---that something needs repair or replacement, fairly soon. And that "thing" would be the copper wires leading into the house.
So either way, I'll be putting in new copper pipe (hopefully when it warms up here in 3-4 months) or, the dreaded option, maybe now. There is also the option of installing the new Afriso Flocop Tigerloop I bought, but that means messing around with the current 20+.
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