Now that most of the snow has gone many of us are facing quite a clean-up campaign before we can really get back to normal service. Apart from clearing pathways and checking pipes and guttering, those of us with oil-fired central heating should take time to make sure no water has seeped into our externally-located storage tanks. This should be done before you place your next order with Super Saver Oil so you have a nice clean tank waiting for it.
Snow can cause as many problems as rain
We like to think of snow as a dry blanket when it’s covering everything, but the lower levels of the snow are under more pressure than the top layers so they can melt slightly. This, combined with the fact that the meltwater doesn’t run off like rain can, means that water can slowly seep into places it’s really not welcome – like your oil tank. Water is denser than oil so it sinks to the bottom of the tank, where it can end up freezing in the next cold snap and blocking and even cracking inlet pipes. It also contributes to the formation of sludge. It needs, therefore, to go!
It’s easy to detect
Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to find out if you have water in your tank by using a water-detecting paste. You apply this sticky paste, which changes colour in the presence of water, to a long stick or rod and insert it into the tank until it touches the tank’s bottom. After a few moments you remove the rod and check the paste to see if it’s changed colour and if it has, you can estimate how much water is in the tank.
Get rid of it!
If there is water in the tank, it needs to be removed ASAP. If your tank is a bit older, it may have a sludge-removal valve which can be opened to remove the water – and probably some gunk – with relative ease.
If you don’t have a valve like this then don’t worry, you could use a special tank sponge instead. This type of sponge is made from super-absorbent polymers that soak up the smaller water molecules but leave the larger hydrocarbon ones right where they are.
You can lay this sponge on the bottom of the tank and leave it to do its work; you’ll probably need to use a few to remove all the water, which is why you need a rough estimate of the amount of water in there.
You could also use a water trap
Water traps are a newer way of keeping water out of your boiler or range cooker. It doesn’t actually remove the water from the tank, but it separates it from the oil as it goes into the heating system so you can drain it off yourself.
Whichever method you use to remove or trap water, doing it regularly helps to maintain the “health” of your oil and the smooth, efficient functioning of your boiler.
Don’t chuck it down the drain
You must never pour any water removed from your oil tank down the drain as it will be contaminated by the oil and any additives you use. Your local rubbish tip will have a special oil disposal facility where you can leave it.
This is a collaborative post