installing an outdoor oil heating tank


  #1  
Old 11-24-03, 04:55 PM
DSmoove
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Unhappy installing an outdoor oil heating tank

i'm a new guy to this site...practically new at doing things myself really but i do help my dad with all kinds of handywork...but a problem arose just this past weekend...my dad detected a leak in the oil tank in the basement. We called the oil company to have it checked out and they told us that the tank was shot and that we would need to replace it. initially the guy gave us some outrageous installation figures and then realized that our jaws were on the ground so decided to give us advice on how to do it ourselves....he suggested an outdoor oil tank of 275 gal. would do us good and should keep us in shape for years to come...he said everything to quick for me to remember...is there anyone out there that can perhaps guide me through an installation of this sorts so that i don't freeze this winter??? Thanx
 
  #2  
Old 11-25-03, 06:33 AM
MusicField
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The safest and best place for the oil tank is in the conditioned envelope of the building.

Outdoor tanks are prone to the collection of water due inside the tank due to condensation that results from the cyclical temperature differences that occur between night and day. The water can get drawn into your heating system and cause damage, or cause the bottom of the tank to rot from the inside out.

Tanks outdoors are susceptible to vandalism, damage from falling snow/tree limbs/debris, and when they are less than 1/4 full, can be blown over in a strong wind. In addition, it will be necessary to pour a fairly large concrete pad to support the tank, which can weigh as much as a small car when full.

Dont know the figure that you were quoted, or what that quote included, but around these parts, you can get a new 275 gallon tank installing in your basement for about $1,000. It will also cost you another $500 to remove the old one.

If you can install a tank outdoors, chances are you can install one inside, too. The tanks themselves are not very heavy (less than 100 pounds), they are more awkward than anything. With a few helpers, it would not be difficult to get in down into the basement, assuming that you have a hatchway.

The hard part will be piping the fill and vent lines, which are usually done in black iron. If the existing black iron piping is still in good condition, chances are you might be able to disassemble it, and re-use it for the new tank, if you put the new tank in the exact location as the old one. If there are parts that you can't re-use, or if you put the tank in a different location, they will cut black iron pipe down at HD for you.

Dissassembly of balck iron piping is relatively straight forward. Remove each fitting/pipe length, one by one, starting from the fill and vent caps outside, and working your way back to the tank. Re-assebly is exactly opposite, starting at the tank connections.

Finally, the best reason to hire it out, is if you do something wrong, and the tank leaks or spills oil, you could be looking at a substantial clean-up bill to deal with oil contaminated soil. If you DIY, you will be left paying for any clean-up. If you hire it out, not only are you more likely to get a correctly completed job, but if the installer does something wrong, they will be the ones to pay for any cleanup from a spill. Even small spills in the order of 20-30 gallons can cost thousands to clean up.

What ever you do, make sure the oil company does not put any more oil into that old tank. Old tanks are very prone to catastrophic failure, which occurs when they subjected to the stresses associated with filling them.

Good luck.
 
  #3  
Old 11-25-03, 10:59 AM
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Exclamation Oil tank

MusicField has coverd about all the if and ands here. I will say that we have always tilt the oil tank to the drain so the water will get out of the tank.I never had any trouble with the burners takeing a little water now and then. It will screw you up if its a pot burner The water will make the floats shut off the oil. If you let it in there it will rust out the tank from inside for sure. We tilt under ground tanks to the pick up end also to try and get any water out of them. ED
 
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Old 11-25-03, 03:55 PM
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Ed, every time you mention pot burners, you are dating yourself. I haven't seen one in 5 years or so and I hope I don't run across one anytime soon. But on to the topic of the oil tanks. Your oil company should be a little more compassionate because the gas company doesn't require their customers to have tanks and that seems to be an inducement for some people to switch fuels.

An outdoor tank isn't as much of a problem in my area as musicfield described. The only concern is using a pour point depressant (or winterized fuel) in the dead of winter. You do not need a concrete pad under the whole tank. You can use a solid 4" thick concrete block under each leg that has been dug into the ground and a flange on the bottom of each tank leg to distribute the weight. Put the oil filter inside the house because that is where the moisture will reside until it gets changed. Also pitch the oil line downward from the tank until it gets inside the house. That way any water will not get trapped in the outdoor line and freeze and choke off or break the oil lne. Make sure to put pipe plugs with an appropriate sealer on all unused tappings in the top of the tank. It would be advantageous to put a coat of rust-oleum on the tank before you set it up and if you play your cards right, you could have the new tank installed, filled and the new oil line run to the burner area and then run the old tank empty. Close the valve on the old tank, switch the lines and start up with the new tank. I agree that inside is better but I still service many outdoor tanks and have no more trouble with them than any indoor ones.

Good luck and post back with any other questions.

Ken
 
  #5  
Old 11-26-03, 06:15 AM
MusicField
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Also double check with the local fire department. In many localities, you need a permit from them when installing an oil tank in a new location, and they may have something to say about what you can and cant do.

Do many outdoor oil tanks have problems? No. But in my line of work (oil spill cleanup is my day-job), outdoor oil tanks have a much, much higher frequency of problems than the indoor ones. I would never recommend that an outdoor tank be put on four separate blocks (on for each leg) unless those blocks were mechanically attached to footings that extend below the frost line.

I can't even begin to describe the number of times I've seen tanks that fell over because they were not footed properly, nearly empty tanks that were blown over in the wind, tanks that were pushed over by vandalism from punk kids, tanks that had feed lines sheared off from falling ice & snow and/or falling branches, tanks that were hit by vehicles, etc., etc., etc.

And the worst thing about all this? I've seen spilled oil cleanup bills financially devastate property owners. Cleanup from a tanks spill can easily run into the 10s of thousands of dollars, and standard homeowners insurance wont pay for it.

Bottom line is, oil tanks are a much different animal than driving a nail, wiring a receptacle, or soldering a pipe. The few extra bucks you might spend to get it done right professionally are prolly the best few extra bucks that you could possible spend on a job like this one.

Im not saying Dont install it outside. But if you do, put it on a solid foundation that extends below the frost line, put a solid roof over it so it is protected from debris falling from above, put a solid wall or fence around it so it is protected from vandals and the wind, and put it in a location where there is absolutely no chance what so ever that it could ever be hit by a vehicle. Once you do all this, it would prolly be easier and cheaper to but it in your basement.

Good luck.
 
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Old 11-26-03, 08:34 AM
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I know there is a company that makes an enclosure for outside tanks. I didn't try to find them online but you might look for that item. It is a plastic containment with a full surround cover for the tank. It isn't too ugly either.

I dread the day when vandalism becomes a problem in my area for outdoor tanks. I'm sure it will arrive someday but what a waste of energy to have to spend money to prevent that. Probably after the kids get finished huffing all the refrigerant from your a/c system, they go tip over the oil tank. But don't get out the shotgun or you'll go to jail. Or even a bb gun. An ex military guy from New Jersey went to jail for shooting a vandal in the ankle with a bb gun from 50 feet or so away. It was mischief night and they were in his back yard. It left a red mark on the kids ankle and the guy went to jail for about 5 years. That is what I don't care for about our society today. Off the soap box now.

Ken
 
 

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