Photograph of an oil tank filler flush with the ground. Is Old Heating Oil Useable? What do we do with old, unused home heating oil?

  • HEATING OIL OLD, USEABLE? - CONTENTS : Is Old Heating Oil Useable? What do we do with old, unused home heating oil? How old heating oil is removed from abandoned oil tanks. How to use up the heating oil in an oil tank before abandoning or removing it.
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Old home heating oil or No. 2 fuel oil use & disposition.

This article discusses what to do with old home heating oil, and addresses the usability of old heating oil.

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Old Home Heating Oil: What to Do With It?
Oil tank lift pump Teesdale

Removing old fuel from underground oil tanks

Old heating oil tank being removed (C) Daniel FriedmanThe UFPBC also requires that underground petroleum tanks to be closed in-place shall be made safe by removing flammable or combustible liquids from the tank and connecting lines; disconnecting the suction inlet, gauge and vent lines; and capping the remaining piping.

All storage tanks removed from their location must also have flammable or combustible liquids removed, have the same lines disconnected; have sections of connecting lines not to be used further removed, and have inlets, outlets, and any leaks capped or plugged. The basic procedures for meeting these requirements are defined in the State and federal regulatory programs.

In addition to requiring the same basic procedures as the State regulations, the federal UST regulations require that a site assessment be performed by the owner/operator when a tank is closed. (Heating oil tanks, and farm and residential tanks storing less than 1,100 gallons of motor fuel are exempt from these regulations.)

See INDOOR OIL TANK ABANDONMENT for some suggestions for using up heating oil or removing it from an oil tank to be abandoned.

For a detailed description of the steps required for proper tank abandonment or for more information on site assessments and permanent tank closure, contact your state department of environmental conservation. In New York inspectors can contact the author or the Bulk-Storage help-line 800-242-3451.

How to Use Up Heating Oil Before Removing or Replacing an Oil Tank

Oil to Gas Heat Conversion Advice - using up heating oil fuel

If you are going to convert to gas or another heating source but you first want to use up the heating oil in your oil storage tank, and provided that your oil fired heating equipment (oil fired boiler, furnace, or water heater) is good operating condition, you can choose to simply let the old, to-be-abandoned oil fired equipment keep running until you run out of oil ... almost. There are a few problems to watch out for:

If your oil tank piping lines come off of the top of the oil tank and are properly installed the lines won't pick up the sludge, water, and last few inches of oil in the tank, so you'll probably be fine just running your oil fired equipment until you run out of oil.

If your oil tank piping lines come off of the bottom of the oil tank and you run it out there is the risk of pulling sludge and crud into the oil filter, oil burner, and losing heat if those components clog. If the oil burner shuts off in that manner, it'll indeed be shut off firmly until it's repaired, so don't try this if you're still depending on the oil heat to keep working (say to avoid freezing).

Your gas heat or other new source of heating should be hooked up and ready to run. Thus you can run the oil heat until it runs out or fails on clogging without risking leaving the building with no heat source - risking frozen pipes, water damage, mold contamination, etc.

The heating service technicians will not want to remove old oil-fired heating equipment until it is completely cold. That's because they don't want to deal with hot water, burns, etc.

The old oil tank may still need to be pumped out if there's oil remaining in it - lest you get a messy leak and spill later.


Continue reading at HEATING OIL SHELF LIFE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Readers should see HEATING OIL SHELF LIFE where we describe how long heating oil can be stored and then used with acceptable results.

Also, if you are removing heating oil in preparation to abandon an oil storage tank, see The Oil Storage Tank Website.

Uses for and handling of used lubricating oils (not heating oil) is discussed in US EPA publication Managing Used Oil.

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