How to Pump Oil Out of a Tank

Written by brenda priddy
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How to Pump Oil Out of a Tank
(DC Productions/Valueline/Getty Images)

Pumping the home heating oil out of a tank is a straightforward process. The main difficulty with the transfer is having a container large enough to hold all of the old oil, and a way to transport the heavy oil from your home to a waste disposal location. Pumping oil becomes necessary when the oil sits for extended periods, when the oil becomes sludge-like or when the oil gets water or other contaminants inside the tank.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Burner pump
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Pipe wrench
  • Polythene plastic tubing (¼ of an inch or larger)
  • Wood block
  • Wrench
  • Pipe thread fittings
  • Compression nut
  • Large plastic barrel
  • Dripping pan
  • Trailer or other transportation method

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  1. 1

    Attach the burner pump to the oil line on the tank of oil. Attach the pump with a small wrench. Plug the pump into an electrical socket using the included cord and plug. Disconnect the pump for the next step.

  2. 2

    Use a wrench to disconnect the outlet line from the pump. Attach a tapered pipe thread fitting to the outlet line on the pump.

  3. 3

    Cut a line of plastic tubing long enough to reach from the pump to outdoors through the oil vent line. Attach a compression nut to one end of the tubing, then screw the tube onto the end of the pipe thread connected to the pump outlet line.

  4. 4

    Thread the tubing through the vent lines and outdoors. You may have to cut a section of the vent pipe away to allow an entry point for the tubing. Thread the tubing through the pipe, out the vent and into a large plastic barrel. Make sure the barrel is large enough to hold all of the oil inside the tank. Use a wood block to hold the tubing inside the barrel so it does not fall out and spill oil everywhere. Plug in the pump.

  5. 5

    Turn on the pump and allow the oil to seep out into the barrel. If the connection leaks at any point, place a dripping pan under the connection to catch any dripping oil. Wait for the oil to transfer out of the tank. Depending on how large the tank is, this can take several hours. It will take about three minutes of draining for every five gallons of oil.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure to have the oil tanks set on a mobile surface, such as a trailer for transportation. Oil is very heavy, and a gallon of oil can weigh over eight pounds. This means that a full tank will be impossible to lift for a single person.
  • Dispose of the oil at a certified oil recycling centre. Many automotive repair centres will accept used oil and dispose of the oil properly. You can also look online for certified disposal locations.

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