Oil tank leaking at the weld seam, considering gas conversion, need to act fast

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Old 11-19-12, 08:23 PM
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Oil tank leaking at the weld seam, considering gas conversion, need to act fast

The ancient sludge ridden tank in my basement is now leaking at the weld at the very bottom corner under the oil outlet. It was filled a couple of weeks ago and they had to blow out the lines too. It must have been too much for it. It is a slow drip right now, but since it's at a seam I am worried. I have a basement waterproofing system that they had to route around the tank, so if the seam lets go and I lose a full tank of oil most will go in the soil under the slab, worst possible outcome.

I have been considering a switch to natural gas in the next couple of years. I have a gas line in the house already going to a gas water heater. I would love to get off oil. Boiler is at least 25 years old, but in great shape.

The oil tech was here today and put one of those magnetic and rubber tank leak stoppers, which helped but since this is on the corner it is not perfect. I will likely get a call from them tomorrow. He says this needs to be done ASAP. Given the time of year right now and that we are in the heating season, is it realistic to convert to gas now? Any chance I can actually get several estimates during this busy time?

Part of me is thinking just get the tank replaced, maybe I can sell it in a year or two if I do convert. I wish I could get by until the spring but it seems a long way off. If I get a tank, is this the kind of thing I should get lots of estimates on too?

So the big question is in this case, would you go for the conversion now or get the tank replaced asap?

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Old 11-19-12, 08:47 PM
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Well, I dunno if it would work (says it resists oil), but I recently had an air compressor that sprung a leak from where the ends of the tank were welded. Granted it wasn't much of a crack, but it caused the compressor to lose enough air that it would have to cycle every 60 seconds even when I wasn't using it!

Well I was in Menards the other day looking at the epoxy trying to figure out which JB Weld to try, and another product caught my eye...



image credit: menards dot com

And it was only $1.58! Worked like a charm. Sanded the area so that it was clean and prepped, slathered a little bit over the area when I quit work for the day... and the next day- no leak!

I probably used 1Ę worth, so I don't know why I waited so long to make this repair. LOL
 
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Old 11-19-12, 09:08 PM
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Blowing out the lines shouldn't have affected the tank. More likely water in tank, which sinks to the bottom and eats the tank from the inside out. All those repair epoxies are waterproof, oil proof, gas proof, xxx proof but they rely on clean, dry metal with no oil on it from the start. Once dried almost nothing affects it.

That tank isn't going to burst open. It's not going to spring a leak like a geyser, but you're right, it should be addressed soon. Put kitty litter under leak to absorb it.

Your going to get mostly opinions here. What you do is based on your financial means.
Here is my opinion and what I would do: call up tank company....tell them tank is full of oil, is starting to leak and needs to be removed. Maybe you'll get some money back with all the oil in the tank. Replace the oil fired boiler with a gas fired one. In my mind it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to put in a temporary tank.

Hope this helps you some and good luck.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 10:23 AM
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Hi mst Ė

I am a million miles from expertise. (I have two 275 gal old steel oil tanks in my basement.)

Maybe you could just put a big drip pan(s) under there (they make them for oil tanks) and keep an eye on it until spring. You could also carefully monitor your tank fullness and make sure by spring the tank is low. Then in spring you could deal with the problem without a great deal of pressure.

Replacing a near empty tank would probably not be too bad of a job. Probably a DIY job or at least it would seem that it wouldnít be a major job for the pros. (Although I guess sometimes it can be tough to get it out of the basement, depending on bends, etc.)

But of course that presupposes that the tank wonít burst open before then. I would get a lot of opinions quickly as to whether you could just potentially live with a possible slow drip until spring or whether thatís too dangerous. Maybe you could look at old threads here and also use Google.
Iím always skeptical (my problem) when people in the business see a problem and tell you it has to be fixed immediately. But I guess sometimes they are right. Iím with you, an oil leak is scary. I check my tanks almost every day.

Seems a shame to have to make that decision (gas-oil/new tank) under pressure. I donít see why the oil-tech/company canít wait a little bit more time for your decision.

Good luck!
 
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Old 11-20-12, 10:55 AM
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.




Will the repair leak?.......or will it spring another leak?......you couldn't possibly know.

The tank is obviously at the end of its useful life......this is not the situation to "take a chance"

At a minimum......you need to make a decision NOW......either replace the tank or go with gas.

Are you going to be there 24/7 to watch?......wouldn't take long for a disaster to happen.

Do you think your Insurance Co. will pay for clean-up if they find an old patched tank?

If you replace it the installer can simply pump out the oil.....filter it and refill the new tank.

If you go with gas.....they may consider it waste oil and you'll lose the money you already spent.




.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 02:47 PM
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It's getting worse, at this point i would just be fine with getting the thing out of my basement, all else is secondary.
It has gone from a very slow seep, to a drip per second. I don't know why it accelerated today but it did. The magnapatch isn't helping because it is on the corner. I am concerned now because of the Holiday on Thursday, I am having a hard time getting work done this week.
I had lined up some appointments to discuss gas conversion but I don't know if I have that kind of time. I was able get a guy out tomorrow at 2pm to talk about replacing the tank. I tried to impress upon them my urgency but this was the best they can do. I have no idea how far out they are booked to get the work done.

I am going to get a bigger pan but anything else anyone can recommend as an emergency to help slow the leak or protect the floor and save from having oil contaminate the soil will be appreciated. "S$%t just got real" as they say. I never was really concerned about the tank just "letting go" but the leak got so much worse in such a short time.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 03:30 PM
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So the big question is in this case, would you go for the conversion now or get the tank replaced asap?
I would convert. I pay about $1.25 per therm of natural gas. To compare that to a gallon of heating oil, multiply it by 1.38. That gives me $1.73. You can do the rest of the math on what your savings would be based on your oil usage.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 04:04 PM
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I would convert too...paying about .60 cents a therm here in the Midwest...wish I could pipe some cheap gas your way.

I originally had 2 / 275 gallon tanks in the basement before it was converted to natural gas on a 1934 American boiler. It had a Carlin Gas Conversion power burner, (hear me roar! lol). Then I put in a Munchkin and cut my gas bill in half...got to love new boilers.

I think the new boiler was a selling point in an old house I sold 3 years ago.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 04:28 PM
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Is it your oil supplier that you look to for tank maintenance? I wonder if they could give you a loaner tank and pump the oil from the leaking tank to the loaner?

Or, and this is a Rube Goldberg idea, can you rig up a piece of rubber or neoprene, held tight against the leak by a sling or by bungies around the tank, sort of like a jock strap?

If you can somehow get the problem stabilized until spring, that would be ideal from several standpoints. First, in installing a new gas boiler, you never know what problems and delays might be encountered. And, it would give you time to consider your options and shop for a new boiler. And, you could run your tank dry before attacking it.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 04:51 PM
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In my neck of the woods, I have seen large temporary plastic tanks sitting in front of the house where they are pulling old underground tanks out. Looks like a big plastic drum with tubing running into the house. So there must be temporary tanks available for emergencies like yours. Try calling your oil supplier or a tank remediation outfit.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 05:03 PM
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I would convert too...paying about .60 cents a therm here in the Midwest...wish I could pipe some cheap gas your way.
They already do pipe that cheap gas our way. Too bad the guys that own the pipelines take their share as it goes through.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 05:24 PM
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Too bad the guys that own the pipelines take their share as it goes through.
I wouldn't mind if they took their cut... what bothers me is that the pipeline stops 1/4 mile from my home!

If you see that leak accelerating, I would recommend toolmon's (and others) advice... get someone out there STAT to place a temp tank! You do NOT want this to happen to you!

Oil Tank Remediation Photos by JeffPicks | Photobucket

IN SITU remediation July 2012 Photos by JeffPicks | Photobucket
 
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Old 11-20-12, 05:42 PM
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I wouldn't mind if they took their cut... what bothers me is that the pipeline stops 1/4 mile from my home!
Wow. If you are somehow outside their normal service area, won't they give you service if you pick up the tab for the installation up to your house? That's been our experience around here. Plowing in 1/4 mile of plastic gas pipe would take them about two hours, max, plus material - unless it was in a congested, urban area. Boring under roads or driveways is easy for gas companies nowadays with directional boring machines, e.g., Vermeer.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 05:54 PM
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I know, right?

Here in NJ it would probably cost about 20K to get that line run. Not to mention the payoffs to all the politicians brothers in law.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 06:40 PM
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Wow! Thart's enough h2o2 to launch your own rocket!
 
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Old 11-20-12, 08:05 PM
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Yeah, I'm surprised Homeland Security wasn't hanging around.
(by the way, second round of injections start soon...)

Pics not posted to hijack, just to stress the importance of not allowing an oil leak to happen! This has been preventing the sale of my home now since 2006.
 
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Old 11-21-12, 06:21 AM
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Pics not posted to hijack, just to stress the importance of not allowing an oil leak to happen! This has been preventing the sale of my home now since 2006.
That is crazy.
There was a house in the town I live in that was condemned because of years of oil leaking in thier basement (indoor tank). I don't know the whole story, but I was told the oil leak was why the house was eventually torn down and rebuilt.
Interesting enough, the new construction of that house got my wife online looking to see what it was worth. She didn't find it, but did find the house we now live in.
 
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Old 11-21-12, 12:05 PM
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Oil company wants $2,485.00 to replace it. I was not thinking it would be that much. I was hoping to just get it done but I am getting estimates from other companies now for the oil tank replacement. I had one guy come to talk about a gas boiler but they won't help with the old tank at all, no removal or anything.
 
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Old 11-21-12, 03:51 PM
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That's a bit more than I paid to have my old tank DUG UP with track hoe, CUT OPEN, a guy go inside with a bucket and scraper in a hazmat suit and respirator, scrape the sludge into buckets, wipe down inside tank, pull tank, remove underground lines, fill hole, install NEW tank in garage, cut holes for new fill/vent, install fill/vent pipes, plumb to boiler.

I think you can do better than that price.

Figure 800-1000 for a new tank... plus labor to pump out and remove old tank.
 
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Old 11-23-12, 05:02 PM
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Patched it! Used gas tank repair putty, it still soaks through somewhat at the rate of a drop every few hours, much better for now.
Nobody wants to do the tank for less than 2 grand. So for now I am going to plug up the inlet pipe with Styrofoam with a note not to fill, and then duck tape up the cap. Once the tank is empty things will be much easier.
 
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Old 11-23-12, 05:09 PM
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So what exactly is your plan after the tank runs dry? Are you going to convert to gas?
 
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Old 11-23-12, 05:18 PM
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for now I am going to plug up the inlet pipe with Styrofoam
Styrofoam will probably melt and run down the fill tube into the tank.

Just tape it up and "do not fill" tag it...
 
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Old 11-23-12, 05:22 PM
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Yeah I am thinking gas, I am going to get more estimates first and decide if it makes sense. I had a guy out today and he is going to email me some estimates, but I have more time to talk to other companies too. Another problem is the chimney doesn't have a liner, so either put in a liner or get a direct vent model which necessitates replacing the gas water heater which also vents into the chimney. So some decisions there.
If it just isn't cost effective right now I can always just go with a new tank. The house is upside down on the mortgage so I can't sell right now, and I don't want to put too huge of an investment in it.

I thought you might all like to look at what a 60 year old tank looks like:
 
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Old 11-23-12, 05:22 PM
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The outlet line from the oil tank is above the bottom elevation of the tank. You will still have some oil and sludge to pay for removal, along with the tank. But, we had a little asbestos issue at our chuch, but the DIY spirit seemed to solve the problem. Praise the Lord!
 
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Old 11-24-12, 02:51 AM
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I think this was mentioned above........but you could still have a tank installed outside as a temporary remedy.

Or even as premanent setup.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 03:32 PM
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If you do a chimney liner, do stainless. It will hold up a lot longer and resist corrosion.
 
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Old 11-29-12, 05:12 PM
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Pd

dont know if this is to late to help. and a seam may make it impossible to do. but here goes.first drain tank.next use a self tapping screw.driller type for building metal buildings ,it has a rubber gascket on it.locate hole and run it in firmly,dont over tighten.then use a brake cleaner such as brakeleen to clean tank of all fuel resadue off .sand metal clean and use solvent to clean again then use a fuel rezistant epoxy to cover screw and small area surrounding it.you may need a larger than normal screw to get it to hold.. look for one's called "goof screws"as aback up. i do a lot of welding repairs for folks and one problem incountered with fuel tanks is once it is corroded badly the surrounding area is very thin .hence the over size goof screw.hope this helps U.
 
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Old 11-30-12, 10:15 AM
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OK, maybe that would work for a time, but... you said:

first drain tank
And I'm thinking that if yer gonna go to the trouble to do that, it means that you've got temporary storage set up somewhere, and at that point why not just replace the tank?
 
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Old 02-07-13, 01:24 PM
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Well, with all the really cold weather we've had I clearly wasn't going to make it to Spring, I am getting a gas boiler installed as I write this. In a strange way I will miss that boiler, I get attached to things I spend a lot of time fixing!
I did end up leaving a little oil on the table so to speak, but it was mostly sludge by this point, and who wants to risk anything freezing.
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Old 02-07-13, 01:40 PM
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The old boiler; I'll post the new one for those curious when they are done
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Can't read the plate on the tank anymore, looks like an ancient artifact.
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Old 02-07-13, 04:58 PM
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Total cost for all hardware, install, and removal of old boiler and tank: $5450.00

Weil-McLain CGa-4 PIDN boiler (covers still removed):
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Old 02-07-13, 10:37 PM
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I get attached to things I spend a lot of time fixing!
LMAO.......yeah....I can see you're heart broken to send that old stuff packing.

Well anyway.....at least it's all done and over with with. Thanks for stopping back and sharing.
Good luck
 
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Old 02-08-13, 06:48 AM
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gas rules. you will love it. i'm easily saving 50% a month with it. wish i did it 20 years ago when i moved in (then again i dont know if it was as cheap back then)
 
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