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If you use fuel oil to heat your Mid-Atlantic area home, it’s important to realize the importance of regular fuel tank maintenance. Using fuel oil to heat your home and water can be safe and relatively efficient, with proper fuel tank maintenance.

Importance of Fuel Tank Maintenance

A lack of maintenance can create two primary problems:

fuel tank

  • A corroded, poorly maintained tank can allow impurities to collect. When mixed with the fuel oil, these can gum up the burn process. It’s crucial to have relatively clean oil because when it’s sprayed at high pressure through narrow nozzles, contaminants can compromise combustion and reduce energy efficiency.
  • Corroded oil tanks can leak, which can result in an expensive, messy and time-consuming clean-up process, as well as pose an environmental and health hazard in or near your home.

Fuel oil and diesel fuel are vulnerable to intrusions from water vapor and bacteria, problems that are directly related. When water vapor condenses in a fuel tank, it creates an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria. A fuel system can become badly contaminated, leading to expensive repairs and malfunctions that put your home heating system out of commission.

So what’s the problem with microbial growth in fuel tanks? There are several negative consequences, including clogged oil filters, reduced combustion efficiency and more corrosion of fuel components.

Contamination in the tank results from fungi and bacteria, both of which require water to survive. In a fuel tank, microorganisms will collect at the bottom of the tank where the fuel and water interface. That explains why it’s so important to minimize the amount of water vapor that may infiltrate a fuel tank. This can be done through proper fuel tank maintenance that combines fuel monitoring, fuel-system maintenance and fuel treatment.

Choices in Fuel Tanks

An important consideration in fuel tank maintenance is what type of fuel oil tank you choose for your home. Each option poses its own advantages and disadvantages. Whatever your choice, it’s important to choose a tank that’s built durably and solidly, has enough capacity for your needs, and won’t raise installation issues. The tank must be able to meet your needs without costing too much or making your life miserable.

Where Should Your Tank Go?

You have a few options:

  • Above-ground indoors – These tanks are generally located in the garage, a utility room or basement. While a standard tank will run 275 gallons, these tanks range from 160 to 400.
  • Above-ground outdoor – You’ll find these fuel oil tanks beside or behind the house. They must be durable enough to withstand the weather. Even then, however, a standard above-ground tank can rust, leaving an iron sludge residue at the bottom of the tank. That by-product of rust can clog nozzles, filters and the hole where the oil is routed to the burner. The metal legs of the tank can also corrode, and you don’t want to face the catastrophic situation of a tank collapse.
  • Underground – These tanks will be buried at installation, but they can be difficult to remove or even find in some cases. The main advantage of underground tanks is that they come with a larger capacity, from 550-1,000 gallons for residential use.

Fortunately, leaks in fuel tanks are relatively rare, though it’s still a possibility. You can protect yourself from a leaky tank by contracting with a certified testing company to undertake an oil tank integrity evaluation procedure, as established by the National Oil/Heat Research Alliance.

Your choice of a fuel oil tank is a key consideration, with the most common varieties on the market today including steel tanks; fiberglass tanks, which don’t have the leakage or sediment issues of steel tanks; and combination tanks with a polyethylene double-wall tank.

At Griffith Energy Services, Inc., we offer the Roth Tank, which combines a sturdy one-piece outer steel wrap with a seamless high-density polymer inner tank. This is the safest and more reliable fuel-oil tank you’ll find on the market, offering a smaller footprint, more capacity and lighter weight than other, comparable tanks.

Proper fuel tank maintenance, combined with fuel monitoring, remains important, no matter what tank you choose. For the most part, this means minimizing the fuel’s exposure to water. Sludge also should be removed from fuel tanks regularly, as part of periodic inspections and fuel tank maintenance.

Learn more about Griffith Energy Services, Inc.’s fuel tank maintenance options, or contact us today at 888-474-3391 to schedule an appointment for your home!

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