Clogged Filter

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  #1  
Old 12-12-16, 04:25 AM
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Clogged Filter

I am having an issue with a clogging spin-on type filter on the second tank that I added fall 2015.

I installed the tank with a spin on filter, it made it all last winter and all summer no problem. Sometime in early October, I noticed one gauge was reading lower than the other which indicated a clogged filter, so I changed the filter (tanks equalized perfect). I got oil delivered a few weeks later, and now 2 months later the gauge is again reading high while the other is dropping so the filter is clogged again...

What I don't understand is why it would have gone a year without clogging, and now it's clogged again in 2 months.

Any thoughts or tips?
 
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Old 12-12-16, 05:01 AM
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Was the 2nd tank "Brand New" (completely free of sludge) when you installed it it 2015 ?
 
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Old 12-12-16, 05:03 AM
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No, the second tank was used but nothing on the inside was alarming.

What I don't get is that it went a year no problem, and now is clogging.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 05:28 AM
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I don't know much; but these tanks age (and rust) from the inside out; and a thin (almost invisible from afar) layer of crud on the inner walls will harbor a lot of rust and paraffin and petroleum eating bacteria.

A couple high pressure fuel deliveries may cause enough disruption inside the tank to wash some of that accumulation off the walls and allow it to settle at the bottom where it blocks the smooth flow of fuel, both within the tank and inside your filter(s).

How long did the tank sit idle before you tried to re-cycle it ?

And how was the tank examined BEFORE you bought it, and how did you clean it to try to fend off this problem before it was installed ?

I considered buying a couple used tanks a few years ago and received several cautions along this line from folks in the business; so I bought new.

I'm just a Real Estate Broker; but I've encountered many fuel tank issues . . . . and I've learned that you can't tell much about what's going on inside by looking at just the outside. There are people who do these specialty tank inspections; but few people will employ them because it seems expensive.

A professional may have some ideas that point to a different cause or some good ideas on solving this problem.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 05:33 AM
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That could be what happened. I am not at all worried about the tank being rusted.

I'm not sure how long it sat. I know after I got it, it sat at least a couple months while I painted the outside and such. Examining was just with a light through the holes at the top which I know obviously isn't the best and probably won't tell you much but. I did not do any cleaning to the inside. I did however put some sludge treatment in after installation. Perhaps that coupled with the deliveries has dislodged all the crud on the inside and is now rearing its ugly head over a year later.

The tank is from 2000 IIRC, the new style with the pickup on the bottom.

I was going to add some more sludge treatment and change the filter again. Then I was entertaining the option of putting an empty filter canister before the spin on to try and catch the sh!t before it makes it to the filter.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 06:06 AM
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Maybe it's possible to temporarily disconnect this 2nd tank and slowly and carefully filter the fuel from it and put it into the 1st tank.

I've been warned about never allowing tanks to get less than full because of the disruption that occurs to the accumulation of sludge on the bottom when a delivery is made to an empty or almost empty tank.

When I replaced my old tank (looked new from outside appearances), the service people/tank installers refused to take the old tank until I had completely drained it.

A stick through the top indicated that I still had 30 gallons of thick oil inside; but it took me 2 days to get it all (?) out, or so that it was just dripping. I even jacked the other end with a trolley jack to kind of push all of the fluid to the outlet, but despite all that work, I only got about 25 gallons out. It would probably still be dripping today (years later) if I had the patience to keep waiting. I'm glad they were willing to take it away with 5 or more gallons of sludge still inside !

No one ever puts filth into the tank; but condensation does form on the interior walls and the bacteria that eat the fuel deposit their own acidic waste that causes the rusting activity especially while the tank walls are exposed to the air. I was impressed that my oil pump could suck sufficient fuel through that mess for me to still heat the house.

These filters and oil screens (inside the oil pumps) do an amazing job !
 

Last edited by Vermont; 12-12-16 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 12-12-16, 06:20 AM
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I think at this point, all I can really do is put some more sludge treatment in and change the filter. Hopefully it clears up eventually. If not, I will put the empty bowl in line and see if that helps.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by NorthMaine
". . . I will put the empty bowl in line and see if that helps . . ."
So long as you take precautions to insure that the problem doesn't metastasize and affect important components like the Oil Pump and Burner Nozzle, or clog the Oil Line along the way . . . . certainly not in the dead of Winter !

Right now, your problem is limited to the Tank(s); so keep it that way.
 

Last edited by Vermont; 12-12-16 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 12-12-16, 07:16 AM
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Ya, no issues with the other tank, or burner. The burner was just serviced before Thanksgiving so.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 07:59 AM
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Any way it could be a faulty gauge? Maybe the gauge is amplifying a pressure increase. Could you easily switch the 2 gauges just to make sure?

Just a thought.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 08:11 AM
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I'm fairly confident it's not the gauge. Last time I cracked the bleed screw on the filter and nothing came out. I haven't done that yet but.
 
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Old 12-13-16, 06:59 AM
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Fuel Oil Deliveries Are a Crap Shoot

To simplify my life use two filters in series, coarse and fine with vacuum gauge on output.

When vacuum gauge gets near 12" change coarse filter. If gauge then does not drop below 5" change fine filter.

Also dip stick with paste type water detector before and after fill (one or twice a year). Would not pay for oil if there is water.

Years back pumped a lot of water and sludge out of the 560 gallon tank. Filling stirs it up. Also use oil treatment with each fill. Have not had a problem since.

One side benefit of 2 pipe oil pump systems is they continuously filter oil. What goes back to tanks is cleaner than what was taken from it.

One local oil dealer here bought cheaper, bottom of tank oil from depot. He put switches by oil fill caps to shut off burner during fill to avoid sucking in debris. After fill when things settled it was turned back on. Over time a neighbor's 550 gallon tank filled with sludge. He then capped it off and sold him as 275 gallon tank.
 

Last edited by doughess; 12-13-16 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 12-13-16, 08:31 AM
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I checked last night and sure enough, no fuel out the bleed screw on the filter housing. I pulled one of the plugs on the top of the tank, and dumped probably 1/4 bottle of the Oatey treatment I had laying around from when I put the tank in. I've got some filters coming in today, and called to get an oil delivery for next week as the price is on the rise so I figure I might as well top them both off again rather than wait. I'm going to let it sit the next few days, then may pull the plug again next week before the delivery and put more treatment in it, then change the filter after the deliveryand see how long I can make it again...

I guess with the bottom pickup tanks, they eliminated the water rusting issue, but sludging becomes more of an issue since you don't have that 1" or so buffer from the pickup to the bottom of the tank.
 
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Old 01-03-17, 06:06 AM
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I never came back to update this. So flashback, I put some fuel treatment in the tank and let it sit for a week without checking it. When I went down to put another dose in the day before getting filled up, the clog was gone, and the tanks were equalized again. I never ended up changing the filter.
 
  #15  
Old 01-03-17, 09:45 AM
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Just out of curiosity do both tanks have the same type of filter or is the other a canister type. The spin on filters are a better quality filter and may be filtering crap the other one is letting by.
 
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Old 01-04-17, 04:32 AM
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Both have spin on filters.
 
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Old 01-04-17, 06:38 AM
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Glad to hear the oil treatment worked. I add a few ounces per 100 gallons at each fill according to ratio on container.

The best way to monitor oil filter status is with a vacuum gauge on the outlet side. Replacement cartridge filters can be removed to check status, but not spin-on's. Operating without a gauge is like flying blind.

Also worry that oil treatment can free up stuff that ends up in the filter. Gauge shows actual status. End of worry.

I have a two pipe systems. Once gauge still showed high vacuum after filters were changed. There was blockage in return line which had to be blown out.

For $20 vacuum and pressure gauges (liquid filled) are a very worthwhile investment. They are a big help in monitoring burner operation and for diagnostics.
 

Last edited by doughess; 01-04-17 at 07:48 AM.
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