How Do You Get Rid of Heating Oil Sludge?

Written on: June 19, 2023

And 5 Tips for Avoiding It

oil sludge cleanup Orange county, ny If you put off the maintenance on your heating system for too long, you could end up with some problems. One such problem is a build-up of thick, black gunk in the fuel filter. That black gunk is often called heating oil sludge. It’s produced when bacteria oxidize the fuel in your tank.

How does bacteria get in? The bacteria live in the fuel and grow wherever there’s water present. When your tank isn’t full, water can condense on the walls of your tank if there’s a temperature change outside. That’s especially common this season since cooler nights are followed by hotter days.

Is heating oil sludge a problem? Heating oil sludge limits the efficiency of your heating system. If it’s left untreated, it could eventually cause the breakdown of your oil-fired heating system. If the sludge in your tank gets into the fuel mix and then into the supply line, it will clog your filters and cause problems for your heating system. So it’s best not to let it build up too much.

Getting Rid of Tank Sludge

There are a few steps to getting rid of heating oil sludge. It’s something you can do yourself, but you may prefer to hire a professional. It’s a very messy job.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

Here are the steps for cleaning your heating oil tank and getting rid of heating oil sludge:

  1. Drain the oil tank.
  2. Scrub the sludge.
  3. Add cleaner.
  4. Dry the tank.
  5. Refill the tank with oil.
  6. Properly dispose of the sludge.

Preventing Tank Sludge

Fortunately, heating oil sludge isn’t inevitable. Here are five ways to prevent heating oil sludge:

  1. Keep enough heating oil in your tank. Having an empty or near empty heating oil tank promotes condensation build-up on its walls. An increase in the presence of condensation accelerates the growth of sludge-forming bacteria. As a rule of thumb, schedule a heating oil delivery whenever you tank is less than half full. Downey Energy provides heating oil delivery you can count on.
  2. Get professional heating maintenance every year. Downey Energy’s oil service plans each include an annual tune-up. A heating tune-up includes a filter change, something your heating oil system needs. An annual tune-up also gives our technicians an opportunity to spot a sludge problem early and before too much damage is done.
  3. Drain your tank. Sludge builds up over time. If you have an older heating oil tank, consider having it drained by a waste oil contractor. Removing sludge this way can save you money on repairs and help your heating system to perform better.
  4. Use a reputable heating oil supplier. The heating oil Downey Energy delivers is cleaner burning and blended with Heating Oil Plus, a premium additive that helps your heating system run at peak efficiency. It’s also better for your furnace or boiler because it leaves fewer deposits. That mean less wear and tear on your equipment, which improves its longevity.
  5. Use sludge emulsifiers. Emulsifiers can be added to your fuel to help speed up the decomposition of heating oil sludge.

Don’t Let Your Tank Sit Empty!

Now that things are finally warming up, you may be tempted to stop thinking about your heating oil tank or to let it run down to less than you would in the winter. As we already discussed, that’s not a good idea. Especially since condensation is more likely to happen as the temperatures rise. Keep your tank at least half full all year long to help prevent an excessive buildup of heating oil sludge. Need oil? Call Downey Energy for heating oil delivery you can count on.

From Poughkeepsie to Garrison, Newburgh to Mahopac, and all over the Hudson Valley, Downey Energy is there for our Hudson Valley customers.

Contact Downey Energy today to request a heating oil delivery or learn more about our service plans.