Tank & Link Fix: Am I getting fleeced?


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Old 01-15-15, 03:50 PM
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Tank & Link Fix: Am I getting fleeced?

Hi All,

Sorry for the long post, but want to give a good explanation... bought a house 2+ years ago, so we are now in winter #3. Over the course of these three winters, our oil tank/furnace have had some serious issues. The tank is outside, against a house wall, above ground. Last year we had more than 5 outages - mostly according to a frozen line or gelled oil according to our oil co. - and this year we just had our first on our first very cold hit (sub20 nights for 3+ days).

Last year, our oil company diagnosed that our line had a bit of a crimp in it near the base of our tank where the line exited the tank. They believed the crimp was creating a place where the line could freeze just a bit and screw everything up. They replaced that section only and we did ok for the rest of the winter, but it was never quite as cold again.

Last week with our recent outage, their "tank/line specialist" diagnosed that the line coming out of the bottom of the tank was the issue. It's not the newest tank and he thought some water build-up would sit and freeze in the tank and in that section of line at the bottom of the tank. He also thought that the line, which then traveled uphill about 5 feet (over a long incline, so not truly vertical), was letting water settle in that low part of the line and was freezing the line.

The solution last week was to remove the bottom line and instead put the line from the top of the tank. First, this was stopped the line from actually reaching the water at the bottom of the tank or any other grime there. Second, this allows the line to run downhill about a foot instead of the four feet uphill. The whole re-arrangement was considered outside our normal service plan and cost us a few hundred dollars.

All seemed good; I trusted the fix with one caveat: how will the line stay filled as it comes vertically out of the tank when the furnace is not "pulling" oil? I was told it would wok, no worries.

Then today - tada - no oil and the explanation from the tech is that there is a "vacuum" in part of the line, likely from some gap where the oil is gap-ing. Sounds to me, untrained, like that vertical pull out of the tank is not working. The fix according to our oil co? Well, for just another few hundred dollars, they can put in some kind of thing that will remove the air from the line automatically. "Pretty sure" that will work they say! (The other fix is for me to just manually bleed the line occasionally if it runs dry - fine, but a hassle).

So the big, broad question: to me, it just doesn't seem like in my area's climate we should be having such silly issues. And as much as I trust my oil co, it seems like they could be just drawing some dollars out of the wallet by putting fix on top of fix. Should I trust them? Is there some way to stop a line from freezing and to keep it full of oil, without all this nonsense or is this house of mine just behind the times?

(My preferred answer would be to switch to natural gas, but it's not an option here... sigh)

Many thanks in advance for any feedback or thoughts. I'm clueless and can't seem to find anyone I know that has solid insight!
 
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Old 01-15-15, 04:37 PM
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Their explanation of the water/sludge is quite probable. Tanks do tend to accumulate moisture & sludge at the bottom of the tank. The best solution to your problem is a Tigerloop. You can read about it here: Tigerloop

Anytime there is a single line off the top of the tank, a Tigerloop or similar deareator should be installed. Do not let them talk you into a 2 pipe system from the tank.

Where in MD are you?
 
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Old 01-15-15, 05:46 PM
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We are just outside Baltimore; not out west where it actually gets cold.

The Tigerloop was their suggested solution - couldn't remember the name before. But I am a bit frustrated that they didn't make this a part of the original install & plan. I don't know that it would have saved us any money, except for perhaps saving us some general per-visit charge, but it seems like this should have been expected...
 
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Old 01-15-15, 07:08 PM
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As a service guy, I can see both sides of the coin here. They could have been trying to save you some money by not using the Tigerloop & honestly, sometimes it works. Hopefully, they will cut you a break on labor since, in my opinion, you should have been given the option up front. Make sure they install a valve in the line upstream of the Tigerloop.
 
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Old 01-16-15, 07:48 AM
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Sounds fair, thanks for the insight. Just frustrating to have so many problems and so few answers...
 
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Old 01-16-15, 10:49 AM
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Most oil companies are reasonable particularly if you squawk about several calls for the same problem. This is particularly true with a small local company. The big fuel companies are just like any other big company, they don't care if you go to another supplier. There's a lot of other fish in the sea.
 
 

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