If you have an oil boiler that requires a great deal of maintenance and repair work to keep it functioning properly, then there may be an issue with the way your heating oil is being stored or pulled into the boiler system. This is especially true if you find yourself changing filters often and bleeding the boiler on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help keep your furnace or boiler working well. A few good examples are outlined in this article.
Keep the Oil Warm
Many homes that use oil boiler systems keep their oil tanks outdoors. Indoor tanks are not particularly safe, and buried tanks may not stay in great condition when exposed to groundwater and frozen soil. Unfortunately, an oil tank that sits directly outside your home will expose the oil line to freezing temperatures. The oil line is a copper, brass, iron, or steel construction. When the metal of the line becomes cold, then the oil inside starts to freeze. When this happens, it forms into a sort of gel or sludge. Also, water will separate from the oil and freeze separately from the gel material. The result is a clog in the line that will gum up the oil filter and spray nozzle. The fuel will also be unable to flow freely so the system can create heat.
Adding Heat Tape
To reduce freezing oil concerns, add a line warmer to the exterior of the oil line. You do need to make sure that you purchase a line that is specifically designed for outside use. Heat tape that is meant for an oil line is a good option too, because other types of products can create fire risks. Also, when placing the tape around the oil line, make sure not to overlap it. This can cause a short circuit or a fire. If possible, try to plug the tape in inside the home to keep the socket from becoming exposed to water and ice.
Once you add the heat tape, look to see where the oil line enters your home. If a portion of the oil line is buried, then you should protect this portion of the line from corrosion. Corrosion can cause leaks and force rust and other debris to clog the line. To prevent corrosion problems, consider adding a non-metallic covering to the buried portion of the line. A rubber cover will work best, but make sure that the cover sits snugly against the metal oil line. This will prevent water from working its way underneath it.
Securing the Tank Cap
Water will often work its way into an oil tank to cause clog issues and general firing problems. While most people think that their oil tanks are secure, water does have the ability to work its way around loose or poor fitting caps. Also, water around the threads of the cap will freeze and force the cap upward and more water will have the ability to flow into the tank. This water can easily flow through the oil line. This is especially true if you allow your oil tank to run low or run out of fuel completely. This is one reason why it is always wise to work with a heating specialist or an oil delivery business to schedule regular fuel deliveries.
Along with regular oil deliveries, consider investing in a more secure oil tank cap. The most secure varieties are ones that are immovable and lock into place after they are secured. Look for a cap with a lock on the side of the cap itself or find one with a metal bar that secures the cap with the assistance of a small padlock.
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