Oil burner cut out after oil delivery on cold morning

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Old 01-08-15, 10:21 AM
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Oil burner cut out after oil delivery on cold morning

It went down to zero here in NJ last night, everything was running nicely until I got an oil delivery at 9AM this morning. I was home when the truck pulled in, I questioned the delivery, it seemed early, had 1/2 a tank left but being it was so cold, Filler up! Newer Roth tank outside, took 125 gallons this morning.

Being I was home and the burner was running, I flipped the power off while the tank was filling. Waited 15 minutes and flipped it back on. It started up just fine and I went to work. Gotta give my oil Co. a call, time to renegotiate the price.

About 10:30 my phone rings, caller ID says it's home, this can't be good. Sure enough, I'm told the boiler sounds funny, it's cutting in and out and the basement smells. I gave the executive order to shut it down and proceeded home.

A quick glance showed nothing in the Tiger Loop so I tried to bleed, got no oil. I went outside, disconnected the oil line at the tank and pulled the dip tube out a bit. I blew back through the line down into the tank and noticed a bit of a restriction and then free flowing air bubbling away in the tank. Hook the lines back up, bleed the burner and I'm up and running.

Now the tank sits outside, and it's only 7 years old. What could have caused the restriction in the pick up line in the tank? There's no screen on the end. Could the delivery have stirred things up, maybe the paraffin separated in the cold and clogged up the line? Is that even possible?

What can be done to prevent this from happening? Had we been away for a few days, things may have gotten ugly. I've heard of adding K1 to the tank to keep things flowing during the colder weather, comments?? What about relocating the tank to the basement? Local codes? NJ (Troop?)

Comments, advise, all appreciated!
 
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Old 01-08-15, 11:19 AM
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You'll notice when you're on auto-fill that they'll deliver oil just before the price goes down....whether you need it or not.

My sister has an outdoor tank that occasionally had extreme cold temperature issues. I've found that a few gallons of Kero takes care of the problem. With the tank being outside there is always the possibility of condensation.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 03:41 PM
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What about relocating the tank to the basement? Local codes? NJ (Troop?)
I don't think there are codes that prohibit it... at least not around my neck of the garden.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 03:58 PM
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During bitterly cold weather, many truckers pour an additive into their diesel tanks, sold at truck stops. I don't know if something like that would be advisable for heating-oil tanks - you could ask your fuel supplier.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 04:14 PM
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Gilmorrie - The local big box hardware store does indeed sell an additive for cold weather fuel oil in home heating systems. Being K1 is available local, I think 5 gallons of that might be the better choice. I just need a good clean mixing stick. I may look into relocating the tank in the spring, my better half will love having that space back for planting.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 04:42 PM
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my better half will love having that space back for planting.
How's she going to like losing her crafts room?
 
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Old 01-08-15, 06:23 PM
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I f you have insurance for an oil spill they may have to be consulted ,as some do not want oil tanks inside .
 
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Old 01-09-15, 06:34 AM
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Good point saves, I'll give my insurance company a call.
 
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Old 01-10-15, 12:23 PM
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I'm a Real Estate Broker up here, and all of the exterior heating oil tanks at this latitude are serviced with 100% Kerosene. Even those people who have their tanks inside an attached garage will take delivery of 50/50 Kerosene and #2 Heating Oil, certainly as the colder months approach.

I wonder if this one might have some heavy condensed water lurking at the bottom of the tank, and it took the opportunity to leave the tank and freeze up the line while the system was shut down . . . . that might even account for the system sputtering ?

Flushing the line, capturing the oil removed, and allowing it to settle and stratify in a glass jar might confirm those suspicions.
 
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Old 01-10-15, 02:06 PM
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A quart of menthol hydrate added to a tank of oil should get rid of the water in the tank. If less than a tank put less menthol in .
 
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Old 01-10-15, 02:19 PM
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Where do you get these ideas from saves?

Is there some reference that you can cite with more information on this please?

OHHHHH...

You mean METHYL Hydrate, don't you?
 
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Old 01-10-15, 07:08 PM
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Methyl Hydrate has a low freeze point and is suitable for de-icing applications, but it is not an anti-freeze for diesel fuel. It should not be added to diesel fuel, or used as a fuel.
Being I had the jelling issue again this morning I'm following some suggestions here. The info I googled on M.H. Says nothing about its ability to absorb moisture, and the above statement doesn't sound promising either.

I did put 10 gallons of K1 in the tank after speaking to a tech from my oil company. I'm hoping it doesn't jell up on me again tonight, it's already down in the single digits. If the K1 doesn't do the trick, I've got to get some diesel anti jell additive and, as recommended by the tech, get something that will indeed help displace any moisture that may be in the tank.

EDIT: After more googling I do see where it's used to remove moisture from fuel. I've got a truck supply shop in the next town over, I'll give them a call on Monday to make sure they have it.
 
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Old 01-10-15, 07:19 PM
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I believe the reference to not use methyl hydrate in diesel fuel or gas engines as a fuel is to protect the engine. It is recommended to deice fuel lines and is sold in small bottles to add to the fuel tank to get rid of the water in gasoline tanks.
 
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Old 01-10-15, 07:31 PM
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sold in small bottles
Yes. Us old-timers used to call it "Dry-Gas".

Should be able to find it at any auto store.

It's an alcohol. It does 'absorb' water, it's hygroscopic. It will absorb the water right out of air.

I think I personally would stick with products that are specifically labeled for use in fuel oil storage tanks. Which by the way may, or may not, contain some percentage of Methanol.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 07:10 AM
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Today's update:
Had heat all through the night and it was down in the single digits too. As I'm sitting here this morning having coffee, I start hearing the burner cut in and out. Tiger Loop is dry again, I've got another plug of gelled fuel in the pickup line.

Looks like I'll be searching for the correct anti gel additive to stop this from happening. What a royal pain in the butt this has become and the oil company wount do anything about it. They say it's my problem and wanted to sell me an additive for $50 to help. It's obviously their product that's the problem here. I had zero issues until they topped me off on Friday morning when it was only 5 degrees outside. From that point forward I'm blowing out a plugged pick up line every morning.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 09:52 AM
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I just put 2 bottles of Hot fuel oil treatment into the tank and stirred it up.
So now I've got a full tank, 275 gallons with 10 gallons of K1 kerosene and 2 bottles of oil treatment.
It's warming up slightly for the next few days, let's hope this stabalizes the oil and prevents the plugged suction line in the tank. I'm really getting tired of blowing out the line in the tank and fuel oil really tastes terrible first thing in the morning.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 10:06 AM
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fuel oil really tastes terrible first thing in the morning.
It's not too bad really if you chase it with a shot of JD! (or Dewar's White if you're a scotch man)
 
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Old 01-11-15, 11:15 AM
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Here we go again, 1 PM and it's down again. Plugged up pick up line in the tank. It's 30 degrees outside, I shouldn't be having an issue with gelling. There's something not rite with that drop of oil I got on Friday morning. Called the oil company again, I want all of this on record. Had to go through their emergency call center, I'm waiting for a call back before I proceed to clear the line.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 12:02 PM
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I just pulled the pick up line from the tank and blew it out. Seemed pretty clear so it got me thinking. I put the line up next to the tank and eyeballed the mount level with the gasket. The line length had it sitting pretty much smack on the bottom of the tank with little if any room to spare. I cut 1 inch off the line to get it off the bottom. This might be the answer, but it also points to excessive crud in my tank which wasn't there prior to the drop of oil. This is going to be an interesting discussion with the oil department on Monday. The service tech that called me back just now agreed that cutting the line might keep me going.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 12:20 PM
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Typically 6" from the bottom is the norm..................
 
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Old 01-12-15, 06:50 AM
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Thanks for that info Troop, I may verify the length again and trim it up more.
I went down again last night at 11pm. It was in the low 30's all day yesterday. Blew another plug out of the pick up line. It ran all night and is still running this morning, tiger loop oil level looks normal. Could it have taken 24 hours for the oils temp to come up and the additives to work? I'm still not happy at all with the oil company's lavk of help with an issue they clearly caused. Had this had happened to somebody not as handy, it would have been 6 calls for no heat in 3 days immediately following an oil delivery. I've kept the account noted with every occurrence. Let's see how they react to my request this morning.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 07:37 AM
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I have had no trouble with oil problems in my outside tank since i have been using STR-2, i don't remember the mfgr, but it is available in just about all plumbing supply houses.
Sid
 
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Old 01-12-15, 08:40 AM
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Update:

Spoke to the oil delivery manager, gave him my long story. I'm finally getting the customer service that was lacking all weekend. They are crediting me my out of pocket expenses for the K1 and the Hot treatment. They're also sending a tech to put more anti-gel in and pull a sample from the bottom of the tank to see if they can pinpoint what's happened or at least verify that the oil in the tank is OK. Much better support this time around, I hope they will have an explanation for me by tomorrow and a course of action moving forward.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 06:27 AM
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I believe the problem has been resolved. It's been almost 3 days without a plugged pick up line and it was in the single digits last night too. It took a lot of additives to fix it and my oil company has taken responsibility for it and reimbursed me for my out of pocket expenses.

It's nice to have heat on an ice cold morning.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 09:26 AM
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Hopefully you won't have any more problems but being formerly employed by fuel companies, let me pass on some of what I've learned in those 30 years:
(1) Much less than 20% kero isn't going to do a lot of good.
(2) Suction lines are normally 2-6" off the bottom with 4" being the most common on a vertical 275 tank.
(3) 99%+ of the time when "gelling" occurs, moisture is the culprit.
(4) Be careful with additives, follow directions because with some overdosing can cause problems.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 09:28 AM
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tom, Is this a full service oil company that actually treats the oil for cold weather or a "cash" oil company ? I'm in NJ also and have a Roth tank outside with no problems so far. I do use a full service company.
 
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