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Many people have a small amount of water in their oil tank and it often goes undetected until it makes itself noticed by causing a problem. As it’s summer now, it’s a good time to check your tank over and one thing you should look for is the presence of water. If it’s left there, it can build up to the point where it can get into the delicate pipework around the tank and when winter rolls around, one thing you don’t want is frozen or even cracked pipes. You don’t want the savings you made by ordering from Super Saver Oil to be wiped out by expensive repairs, right?

How does the water get in?

Most often, the water in your tank will have come from condensation or rainwater. Condensation can occur when the oil temperature is significantly warmer than the outside temperature; rainwater can get in if the filling cap isn’t on properly or it’s been left off and it’s, errr, rained. Then there’s dodgy cap seals, damaged or loose vents and, worst of all, cracks in the body of the tank.

Of course, you’ll never leave the filling cap off, will you? No? Good. Unfortunately, if you think any of the other causes are going on, you’ll need to get your technician in.

How do you know if water’s got in?

Water is denser than the oil so it sinks to the bottom, which is pretty hard to get to! Fortunately, there’s water-detecting paste to help you out. You need to apply the paste to a stick or rod – garden bamboo comes in handy here – and put it into the tank so it touches the bottom. Leave it there as per instructions, then pull it out and look for changes in the colour of the paste.

I found water. What now?

You need to remove the water before it gets into the internal mechanisms of your boiler. If you have a metal tank you may well also have a sludge valve so you can release this and drain the water out – it sinks to the bottom, which works well for you here! If your tank is plastic, you may not have a sludge valve, in which case you’ll need an engineer with a hand pump.

Important – the water is contaminated!

The water you’ve removed will be contaminated with oil so it must be disposed of in accordance with your local laws. Contact your council to find out how to do this. Do NOT tip it down the drain.

Once the water is gone, flush out your feed pipe and clean or change your fuel filters as they may have some water in them.

Can I prevent this happening again?

You can use oil tank water soakers. These are specialised sponges that go into the bottom of your tank and absorb water (not oil). They’re easy to put in, but you do need to check them and change them a few times a year. The water in them should be regarded as contaminated as well, so dispose of the soakers properly.



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