How to clean underground oil tank?


Old 01-25-14, 05:19 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 6
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
How to clean underground oil tank?

I have a 1945 H.B. Smith boiler which uses oil. The oil tank is underground and when the oil level is 12 inches or lower, it doesn't run consistently. It shuts off and I think it's because of all the residue/soot on the bottom of the oil tank. I have put in new filters but it doesn't help.

Does anyone know how I can clean the oil tank to remove all the residue/soot. Thank you.
Sponsored Links
Old 01-25-14, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 10,481
Received 31 Votes on 28 Posts
I'm not a pro on this but used to live and build in NJ, but my understanding is all of the underground tanks were supposed to have been removed. If it is that old, yikes, the last thing you want to do right now (cold) is disturb it. My bet is it would definitely start to leak if it hasn't already. If it has you are looking at a potentially expensive repair and the longer you wait the worse it gets.

Chances are it has been replaced and is not as old as the boiler, but it still needs to be removed. Others will have better advice, mine is more opinion.

Old 01-25-14, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,758
Received 21 Votes on 20 Posts
Although there probably is some sledge in the bottom that may not be your only problem.
When piping the tank they keep the supply pipe generally at least 6" from the bottom so you don't suck in that sledge but there's no rule about how high to keep.
The installer may have kept it up higher.

So although your stick shows oil it may be lower than your supply pipe and can't pump it up to the burner.

As far as cleaning it I imagine the sledge can be sucked up just as they do with septic tanks.

As Bud said, I don't think I would fool with a tank that old except to remove it.
Old 01-25-14, 06:58 PM
NJT's Avatar
NJT is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 23,539
Received 3 Votes on 2 Posts
The one that was in this hole was installed in 1952:

Truck was photoshopped in to show scale of the dig. This is not as big as the hole got.

Don't let this happen to you!

This tank was removed in 2006 and after excavating all the impacted soil, it was learned that the oil had gone under a road which could not be excavated and into a neighbor's yard.

The remainder of the oil was cleaned by a chemical process utilizing injection wells.

After EIGHT YEARS the owner was FINALLY advised that the contractors are filing with the DEP for No Further Action... EIGHT YEARS! This cleanup bill was a few thousand short of a HALF MILLION !

Get that tank OUT OF THE GROUND NOW!
Old 02-27-14, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: bedford
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The sludge on the bottom of the tank can be removed using large fuel filters and a pump. It's kind of like cleaning a fish tank. Fuel is pumped from the middle of the tank, passed through a fuel filter and recirculated to the bottom to stir up more sludge, and the process begins again. Depending on the size of the tank it can take a few hours to get it clean of debris.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: