It’s Time to Check for Water in Your Oil Tank

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

Comments (15)

  • Emily / Babies and Beauty

    March 14, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    My parents actually have an oil tank like this, I’ll have to show this to them.

  • Lucie from

    March 14, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    This is a really informative post!

    We don’t have a tank here, but I feel like if we ever got one, I’d totally be buying that paste in a jiffy haha!

    Lucie –

  • Amelia

    March 15, 2018 at 7:51 am

    This was an interesting read, I have a couple of family members with a tank the same as this.

  • Jenni

    March 16, 2018 at 10:39 am

    We don’t have an oil tank, but it’s really useful to compile all this info for those that do!

  • Sim @ Simslife

    March 16, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    I am so glad I do not have oil powered central heating! It was enough when the pipes froze due to all the snow and freezing temperatures! Wouldn’t mind but it seems we are due more snow this weekend so the clean up will have to be on hold for now 🙁 Sim x

  • Alex

    March 16, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I’m so glad we don’t have oil tanks! One of the benefits of living in a central London flat! It’s about to get snowy again this weekend apparently!

  • Cardiff Mummy Says – Cathryn

    March 16, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    I have a few friends who live rurally who had problems with their oil tanks in the snow. Not what you need in the freezing temperatures! x

  • Wendy

    March 17, 2018 at 8:36 am

    This post makes me glad I don’t have an oil tank to worry about! Very informative and I’m sure people who use oil tanks will find it really useful. Hopefully we won’t have to worry about anymore snow damage for a while though!

  • Wendy

    March 17, 2018 at 8:37 am

    This post makes me glad I don’t have an oil tank to worry about! Very informative and I’m sure people who use oil tanks will find it really useful. Hopefully we won’t have to worry about anymore snow damage for a while though!x

  • Beth @

    March 17, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Oh this is interesting. I’d never thought about an oil tank before. Our heating is gas. We were lucky during the snow, our pipes didn’t freeze.

  • Amy – All about a Mummy

    March 17, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    It wouldn’t have occurred to me that water would be an issue. Great post.

  • Kaz | Ickle Pickles Life and Travels

    March 17, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    I used to have an oil tank in my old house but not in where I live now. Great, informative post. Kaz x

  • Siobhan | The Baby Boat Diaries

    March 18, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    We Don’t have a tank here but I’m sure this is a very informative post for those that do! Thank you for sharing such great information! x

  • Nigel William

    March 23, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Hi, Mandi! This is a very useful post! I was wondering, how much time you need to get your oil tank in shape for a new season?

  • Eve Watts

    March 29, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    We don’t have an oil tank but my sister has in their house. Thank you for this helpful post. Very useful for those who have such tank.

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