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Home Heating Oil Sludge – Four Ways to Prevent It

Posted: November 17, 2016

Heating oil sludge

Thick, black sludge can rob your heating oil system of efficiency by clogging your heating oil tank’s supply line. If sludge build up is left untreated, it can even cause your heating system to seize, leaving you without heat – and with an expensive repair bill.

But what is heating oil sludge, and how do you prevent it?

Heating oil sludge is typically a combination of dirt, rust, and oxidized fuel that settles to the bottom of the tank (the fuel is oxidized by microorganisms that grow when condensation accumulates inside the tank as temperatures change).

Although your heating oil tank’s pick up line is positioned several inches above the bottom of the tank to avoid drawing sludge into the supply line, a normal tank filling can disturb the tank bottom and stir sludge into the fuel mix, clogging filters and causing problems for your heating system.

Four ways to prevent heating oil sludge

  1. Get a tune-up every year. Annual Service helps spot small problems before they become expensive repairs. Make sure your service includes a filter change!
  2. Consider moving your tank inside – or enclosing it in a container. Keeping your tank away from the outdoors helps avoid the temperature swings that lead to condensation build up.
  3. Consider having your tank drained. If you have an older tank, consider having it drained by a waste oil contractor (if it’s older than 20 years old, replacing it might be a better option). This can instantly remove years of built up sludge. Contact us to learn more.
  4. Buy your heating oil from a reputable supplier. “Discount” fuel companies usually don’t have their own local storage terminals – they simply buy heating oil where it’s cheapest. Stick with a reputable dealer like Pioneer – we source all our heating oil from quality suppliers, and treat every gallon of our fuel with additives that prevent sludge.

Contact Pioneer today to schedule maintenance for your heating oil system – or to learn more about our heating oil equipment and services!