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How to remove sludge from a fuel oil tank

Prolonged storage of oil in a fuel storage tank can lead to the accumulation of sludge at the bottom of the container. Periodic removal of the sludge is important. The sludge contains contaminants that can be hazardous to your health. Sludge also can cause corrosion inside the oil tank, leading to leaks that can pose a risk of fire and pollute the environment. Sludge also can clog oil pipes, filter nozzles and safety valves.

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  1. Replace the old sludge-tainted oil tank with a new one. This is the safest alternative that can prevent risks such as heat loss, oil spillage, bursting of pipes and other health and environmental hazards.

  2. Use heating oil additive products such as "UltraGuard™" and "4-In-One Hot™" as sludge dispersants or softening agents. Oil companies use these additives at maintenance doses in heating oil to prevent sludge build-up.

  3. Hire a service technician to unclog lines. The use of additives can stir up sludge from the tank bottom and clog oil lines and filters, particularly when the tank is nearly empty and is being filled up. Such problems can be handled with the use of high-capacity oil filters and blowing out sludge from the clogged oil lines.

  4. Hire an oil company that provides sludge-removal and tank-cleaning services. It will utilise special equipment and vacuum-driven procedures that can remove sludge even when the tank is filled with oil.

  5. Tip

    Turn off the heating system for three to six hours before and after filling up the oil tank to prevent sludge from being stirred up from the tank bottom. Fill up the tank before it reaches the "empty" mark to avoid the risk of filter clogging. Place the supply oil lines at a convenient height from the tank bottom to avoid sludge from getting into the oil lines. Inspect the tank periodically for any leaks or damage.


    Remember to hire a certified technician because sludge removal and disposal is a hazardous job that needs extreme precaution.

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Things You'll Need

  • New oil tank
  • UltraGuard™
  • 4-In-One Hot™
  • Service technician
  • High-capacity oil filters
  • Oil company

About the Author

Based in Winnipeg, Aruna Murthy Anaparti began writing in June 2002. Her work appears on eHow and Answerbag, primarily focusing on topics related to environment, medical issues, health, fitness and careers. She is also a gold medalist. She holds a postgraduate degree in environmental sciences from the Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environmental Education and Research.

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