Hey Genie, how does heating oil sludge get into my tank?


Good question! Sludge, sometimes I just call it gunk. Officially it’s heating oil “tank sludge” and can come from a number of sources, none of them good for your heating system. It can lead to inefficient burning for one thing, or even cause a complete breakdown of your heating system. Not good. Both will cost you money. But, good news, most sludge problems can be prevented with good maintenance habits. So, I’m always bummed to hear about a customer’s sludge damaged furnace.

First, let’s see what causes this heating oil sludge stuff in the first place. Tank sludge is usually a combination of dirt, micro-organisms, and rust that settle to the bottom of your heating oil storage tank. And it’s important to know that this doesn’t mean your storage system is defective. Here’s how it goes down. When the outside temperature changes often, like it did a lot this past winter, condensation can build up on the inside surface of your above ground tank, kind of like it does on the inside of your car windshield. This can not only cause rust, but because water is heavier than heating oil, it settles at the bottom of your tank and provides a nice, cozy place for micro-organisms, like bacteria and fungi, to breed. Now you have a layer of ”slime” in your gunk…oops, sludge.

And just in case you’re wondering, the pick-up line for your furnace is placed several inches off the bottom of your heating oil tank to lessen the possibility of any sludge getting pulled into your heating system. Fortunately, if it does get sucked into the pick-up line, there’s a filter there to catch it before it reaches your furnace or boiler. That’s the filter that is cleaned or replaced as part of your annual furnace tune up and inspection that I recommended (remember that?). Insert link to this blog.

Okay, now here’s what you can do for the prevention part. One simple way to reduce condensation is to keep the exposed inside surface area of your heating oil storage tank to a minimum. How? Keeping your tank full, or close to full, in the off-season is a good way to reduce condensation and prevent tank sludge build-up. Aladdin’s small, 75-gallon minimum order may be just the ticket to save you a big repair bill caused by sludge damage. Genie is always looking out for you!

So, here’s Genie’s suggestion: keep your heating oil storage tank full, or close to it, and have your system inspected each year before heating season. This will keep any sludge issues to a minimum.

Aladdin Heating oil only delivers high quality heating oil free of contaminants, and that will go a long way to preventing sludge build up in your tank. Get online today and schedule your next delivery!

Serving communities in Baltimore County, Carroll County and Howard County in Maryland, Aladdin Heating Oil is committed to providing FAST, AFFORDABLE, ONLINE heating oil service at the lowest prices possible.

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