If you’re trying to get rid of old heating oil in Palm Coast, Florida, you’re not alone. Many residents are upgrading their oil-fired furnaces to energy-efficient heat pumps, ductless mini-splits, and electric heaters. There are also a number of locals who are simply replacing their old heating oil tanks due to aging and normal wear. The good news is that there are multiple ways to dispose of this fuel safely, legally, and without harming the natural environment.

Old Furnace Oil in Heating Systems That Have Been Dormant for Months

Also known as No. 2 Heating Oil, furnace oil has a shelf life. If you’ve recently purchased existing construction and have found heating oil that’s been sitting for quite a while, you may need to have the tank emptied, cleaned, and refilled. When properly stored in tanks that are free from condensation and serious corrosion, furnace oil can last between 18 and 24 months. Although there are special additives that can be used to extend the lifespan of furnace oil, these products should be added at the time of refilling a tank and not after stored heating oil is already far along in age.

Start by contacting a heating oil delivery service. You should:

  • Have the integrity of the current tank tested
  • Have the tank emptied and cleaned
  • Test the surrounding soil for leaks and ground contamination

After draining the old oil and getting your tank ready for a refill, your provider can dispose of the discarded fuel for you. This is the easiest and surest way to know that your furnace oil is being handled properly.

Why Old Heating Oil Should Be Discarded

In light of rising fuel costs, it may seem wasteful to get rid of what seems like perfectly good heating oil. However, using furnace oil that’s already passed its expected lifespan may be harmful to your home’s heating system. When heating oil sits unused for more than 18 months, it’s often subject to:

  • Natural bacterial activity
  • Water contamination
  • Rust
  • Sludge

Turning your heater on with this old, dirty fuel in your tank can result in clogs, overheating, and many other serious issues.

Diesel Fuel Disposal

No. 2 Heating Oil is chemically similar to the diesel fuel that you can purchase at a local gas station. The most noticeable differences between diesel and furnace fuel are that diesel is subject to higher taxes, and it’s manufactured with a distinctive red dye. However, although you can use diesel in your heating oil tank during a heating emergency, it does burn a bit hotter than standard heating fuel.

If you’ve been using diesel as a short-term replacement for standard heating oil, have your delivery service drain your tank during your next refill. This will ensure that your home heating equipment isn’t subjected to higher-than-normal temperatures for longer than necessary. Given that diesel stored in heating oil tanks is likely mixed with No. 2 Heating Oil, you cannot save it and use it in other applications. Like heating oil, diesel has an average lifespan of about 18 to 24 months.

What to Do About a Leaking Heating Oil Tank

Faulty installation, general wear and tear, and impact events are among the many reasons why heating oil tanks start to leak. If your heating oil tank is excessively old and has been poorly maintained throughout its lifespan, rust and other forms of corrosion are the most likely causes of leaks. Not only will a leak result in heating oil waste, but it will also cause progressive problems with soil contamination.

Oil leaks can contaminate groundwater, and they can eventually find their way into public water supplies. Thus, homeowners are required to have leaking tanks professionally drained and removed right away. Common signs of heating oil tank leaks include:

  • Dying grass and plants around the tank’s perimeter
  • A sudden spike in your home heating bills
  • Pungent oil odors around your property
  • Patchy oil stains in your yard
  • An oily sheen on pooling water

Whether you have an underground oil tank for your furnace or one that sits above ground, evidence of a leak is a cause for immediate concern.

What Do Heating Oil Companies Do With Old Heating Oil

Brand-new heating oil is referred to as “virgin” heating oil. This means that it’s never been put inside a heating oil tank and exposed to any common tank contaminants as a result. It is pure, stored in proper containers, and unlikely to cause damage if put into new heating systems. When heating oil companies recover virgin heating oil, they’re often able to sell it to fuel recycling facilities.

However, non-virgin or “recovered” heating oil is another matter entirely. If the tank is determined to be clean and the oil still has an acceptable amount of time remaining in its lifespan, it may be redistributed or resold. Older and potentially contaminated fuel will be disposed of according to the most current regulations and requirements within the greater Palm Coast, Florida area.

Can You Remove Old Furnace Oil Yourself?

Getting rid of old furnace oil on your own is not recommended. This is a messy, time-consuming process, and one that must be completed without spillage, soil saturation, or other mistakes. Heating oil companies have the right equipment for pumping fuel out of tanks, and without harming the natural environment or the tanks themselves. The only safe and lawful way to get this job done is by passing it on to professionals.

What to Do If You’re Abandoning an Underground Storage Tank

For many homeowners, getting rid of old, unwanted heating oil is only part of the process. If you’ve started heating your home with an entirely different fuel source and no longer have need of your fuel tank, you’ll have to follow the protocols for underground tank abandonment.

Underground tanks can be filled in place by covering them with dirt or other fill materials, or they can be professionally removed. However, in both instances, you’ll need to submit formal notification of your intention to abandon your tank 30 days before you take any action. You’ll also need to find out if your underground storage tank is leaking or has caused ground contamination in any other way. Finally, all fuel, vapors, and sludge will need to be removed before extracting the tank or filling it in.

If you plan on selling your home in the future and intend to abandon an underground tank by filling it in, you’ll want to have comprehensive records that document this process. When underground tanks are abandoned, savvy buyers check for evidence of ground contamination testing and the use of licensed professionals for all fill work. When home purchases are financed, this documentation is also necessary for passing lender-required inspections.

Things to Remember When Hiring a Service to Drain Your Tank or Remove It

It’s always important to verify the license, insurance, and reputation of any company that you hire to perform work on your property. However, taking the time to carefully screen providers hired for either tank abandonment or furnace oil removal is absolutely critical. This is the only way to ensure that the work is done in a lawful and environmentally sustainable fashion and that old heating oil is repurposed or redistributed whenever possible. Hiring general handymen or unethical and unlicensed parties could mean having both your abandoned tank and the heating oil it contains tossed by the roadside.

At Cook’s Air Conditioning and Heating Specialists , we work hard to help homeowners in Palm Coast, Florida make informed decisions about their home heating systems. We offer air conditioner and heater installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide advanced indoor air quality solutions. If you need help with your heating oil tank, give us a call today.

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