Four Ways to Prevent Heating Oil Sludge

Posted: November 16, 2016

Heating oil leak

One of the things we find when performing tune-ups on heating oil furnaces is a build up of thick black sludge in the fuel filter.

Most of the time that sludge is a combination of dirt, rust, and oxidized fuel that settles to the bottom of the tank (the fuel is oxidized by bacteria that grow in the presence of water in the tank, which accumulates as condensation when the tank warms and cools during temperature changes).

Typically the pick up line for an oil furnace rests several inches higher than the bottom of the tank to avoid sucking this sludge into the supply line. But a tank filling can stir sludge into the fuel mix, clogging filters and causing problems for your heating system.

What problems does tank sludge cause?

Tank sludge robs your heating oil system of efficiency by clogging the 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.

What can I do to prevent heating oil sludge?

  1. Have your heating system set up and serviced annually by a qualified technician (annual maintenance includes a filter change – a must for your heating oil system).
  2. Consider moving your tank indoors or enclose it to reduce daily temperature swings that cause condensation build up. If you must keep your tank is outdoors, blend kerosene or our “anti-gel” product in the cold winter months to make sure your oil keeps flowing.
  3. If you have an older tank, consider having it drained by a waste oil contractor (or, if it’s older than 20 years old, consider having it replaced). Removing years of built up sludge this way can save you money on repairs and help your heating system to perform better.
  4. Avoid purchasing your heating oil from “discount” fuel companies that don’t have their own local storage terminals. Stick with reputable dealers like M-H that source their fuel from quality suppliers and treat their fuel with sludge-busting additives. Always remember – “you get what you pay for”!

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