How to install a heating oil tank

Written by tim mcquade
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How to install a heating oil tank
Home heating is crucial in cold-weather climates. (Snow image by ljc from Fotolia.com)

Installing a new heating oil tank at your home offers comfort and protection from the elements. For larger towns and cities, gas and electricity companies offer heating to homes via natural gas pipes and other methods. In rural areas, however, many buildings require their own heating sources to be installed. A heating oil tank can be a good option. Before you install a heating oil tank, check your state and local township laws or codes about the necessary requirements for installing a tank.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • UL-listed oil tank
  • Solid-base foundation
  • 1.25-inch diameter vent pipe
  • 2-inch diameter galvanised steel pipe
  • Grooved, polythene-coated copper piping
  • Fill line cap
  • Vent line cap
  • Vent alarm
  • Oil tank filter
  • Oil tank gauge
  • Dripping pan
  • Shutoff valve
  • Petroleum-grade pipe thread sealant
  • Compression fitting

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate a suitable spot for the new oil tank to be installed. Most experts in the industry recommend installing your heating oil tank indoors, rather than outdoors. This is because outdoor tanks are exposed to the elements, which can lead to corrosion and cause damage to the tank. Because a solid cement foundation is already in place, basements are often a great location to install heating oil tanks. Also, basements tend to be free of household and vehicle activity. All heating oil tanks need a solid-base foundation, such as cement. Local codes may require the solid-base foundation to be a certain depth.

  2. 2

    Locate or purchase a brand-new oil tank. A used tank should never be installed. Residential oil tanks come in varying sizes but can typically hold between 200 and 350 gallons. Ensure the oil tank is UL listed, which means the tank has been checked to meet specific operational safety guidelines. Tanks are made of steel or composite material, and can weigh up to a ton when full.

  3. 3

    Install a dripping pan in the spot where the oil tank will be positioned. A dripping pan is generally a good idea because it ensures any oil leaks are caught and contained.

  4. 4

    Install metal legs onto the oil tank, if they are not already attached. It is a good idea to have tank legs measure 11 inches at the outlet end and 12 inches at the other end. This gives the tank a slight slope and helps provide adequate room for the shutoff valve and filter. Legs typically screw into the base of the oil tank.

  5. 5

    Position your tank so it is at least five feet from any fuel-fired appliance. Tanks should be installed in such a way that allows all-around inspection. When installing near a wall, at least four inches of space should be allotted between the tank and wall. Keep at least four inches of space between the floor and the bottom of the tank.

  6. 6

    Remove the vent alarm plug located at the top of the tank. Although it is not required in some areas, installing a vent alarm (also known as a vent whistle) is highly recommended. During the filling process, vent alarms whistle; however, when the tank is nearly fully, the vent alarm will cease to make noise. This helps prevent tanks from overflowing while filling. Vent alarms are about six inches tall. Use pipe thread sealant on the vent whistle to ensure a proper seal.

  7. 7

    Install the oil gauge in your tank's designated gauge spot. Oil gauges are simple devices that show how much oil is left in the tank. Use pipe thread sealant on the gauge to ensure a proper seal.

  8. 8

    Remove the cap from the fill line and vent line hole, located at the opposite end from the supply connection line. The fill pipe is where the oil tank will be filled. This piping is about two inches in diameter and consists of galvanised steel. For indoor tanks, fill line piping will need to run outdoors. Run the oil fill pipe outside, near the foundation of the house, and place a fill cap on the outside end of the fill line pipe. A vent pipe will also need to be run outside from the vent line hole, which is adjacent to the fill line hole. Vent line piping is usually about 1.25 inches in diameter. Install a vent line cap on the outside end of the vent pipe. Use pipe thread sealant on all pipe connections for a proper seal.

  9. 9

    Install the oil filter and shutoff valve to the supply line at the front base of the oil tank. Connect the shutoff valve to the supply line at the base of the tank. If a problem ever arises, this valve can prevent oil from flowing. Connect the oil filter to the shutoff valve. Use the compression fitting to properly attach the supply line and the oil filter. Use pipe thread sealant on the pipe connections for a proper seal.

  10. 10

    Connect the supply line to the compression fitting and oil filter. Position the supply line so it runs along the perimeter of any walls. This will help prevent the line from being damaged. The supply line should have a protective covering. Grooved, polythene-coated copper piping is a good choice. The supply line will run directly to the furnace. Use pipe thread sealant to ensure a proper seal.

Tips and warnings

  • Having a trained technician install an oil tank is recommended.
  • Ensure all equipment, locations and piping meets the applicable codes of your state and local township.
  • Use pipe thread sealant on all pipe connections to ensure a proper pipe seal.
  • Have an inspector come look at all components of the oil tank.

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