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Author Topic: Does fuel oil go bad?  (Read 9394 times)

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Offline 21incher

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Does fuel oil go bad?
« on: February 07, 2014, 06:13:48 PM »
About 5 1/2 years ago I installed a wood stove and at the time I had a full 275 gallon tank of fuel oil in my basement. Now it is down to 3/4 of a tank due to the furnace kicking on when we are away and on cold nights. At my current consumption rate the oil should last another 15 years. My question is does fuel oil go bad like gas or will it be useable for 20 years?
Hudson HFE-21 on a custom trailer, Deere 4100, Kubota BX 2360, Echo CS590 & CS310, home built wood splitter, home built log arch, and a logrite cant hook.

Online beenthere

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2014, 06:55:06 PM »
Not sure how long it will stay "burnable", but stick around and be sure to let us know  8)

You do regular maintenance on your oil burner? Or only when it fails to ignite? 
 
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Offline 21incher

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2014, 07:23:22 PM »

You do regular maintenance on your oil burner? Or only when it fails to ignite? 
 
It was last serviced when the tank was filled. Before that it was serviced once a year and burned around 900 gallons every year so I figure it has only burned about 70 gallons and should be fine. The only thing I do is change the air filter every 6 months.
Hudson HFE-21 on a custom trailer, Deere 4100, Kubota BX 2360, Echo CS590 & CS310, home built wood splitter, home built log arch, and a logrite cant hook.

Offline gspren

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2014, 07:47:53 PM »
   You need to add something or a form of algae will grow and clog things up.
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Offline Den Socling

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 07:50:05 PM »
That's something I never would have guessed.

Offline Skip

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2014, 09:28:02 AM »
Sea Foam will help keep it fresh Rural King is the cheapest place around here to get it

Offline submarinesailor

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2014, 11:38:13 AM »
The answer is yes.

You need to treat it to keep the algae, fungus and water out of it.  While I worked at the Pentagon Heating plant, we had a very intelligent manager who stayed on top of his 600,000 gals.  Once a year we had a contractor come in, test it and treat it as needed.  BTW - we also sampled it and sent it to the GSA lab.  The results always matched up - AN HONOREST GOVERNMENT CONTRACTOR!!! NO WAY!!!!!

2 other stories for you:
1.  While I was stationed at the submarine squadron in Kings Bay, GA.  We had a submarine, while on strategic patrol, transferred oil from its storage tanks, untreated storage tanks, and the oil full of algae shut the submarine DOWN.  They were sitting on the surface when the oceans going tug boat got there to bring her in.  Needless to say, a whole of the Engineering Department leadership went away.  From the old man all the way down to the leading aux machinist mate.  Al knows who I'm talking about.
2.  The second one was a 210,000 gallon tank at an major Army installation in Maryland that wanted to use heating fuel to ran a big bunch of diesel gen set, about 15 MW.  While setting all of this up, I asked the question when was last time the tank had been tested.  TESTED????????  They looked at me like I was nuts.  Anyways, they tested the tank.  It is the only tank that I personnelly have seen that had dirt, water, rust, fungus and algae in it all it the same time.  I give them the name and number of the guy we used at the Pentagon for treating and treatment.  Noooooooooooo-their fix was the transfer all that oil to other tanks and fill this one back up.  So they contaminated all the other tanks on the base and put new oil into a dirty tank.  Now the contractor that runs the gen sets are filing for additional maintenance money because they keep having to change out the filters going into the gen sets.  I asked them to test this tank again and they “haven’t got the money”.

So my answer is YES you need to read up on this on the web, find a GOOD treatment and treat your oil.

Offline 21incher

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2014, 11:59:09 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I did a little research on the web and it seems that one of the main problems with storage of home heating oil is the fact that the tank is vented to the atmosphere and that lets a lot of moisture be absorbed by the oil and algae forms causing it to plug filters. Seems like I am about the limit for keeping it so it may be time to start burning oil and saving wood until it is gone. And I thought it was like crude oil and would last forever.
Hudson HFE-21 on a custom trailer, Deere 4100, Kubota BX 2360, Echo CS590 & CS310, home built wood splitter, home built log arch, and a logrite cant hook.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2014, 01:55:57 PM »
It would, if you can keep water and oxygen away from it.

But if it's exposed to the elements, that pesky biological life gets at it, and starts breaking it down. It's a bit like the bar and chain oil we spread around the place when cutting trees. It doesn't stay there, it's broken down by bacteria etc, quite quickly because it's spread so thin. Takes a lot longer to start breaking down in a tank, but it eventually will unless the system is sealed, or has an inert gas layer.

Ian
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Offline submarinesailor

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2014, 04:12:08 PM »
If I had a home heating tank, this is something like what I would use.

Bruce

http://www.airsentry.com/air-sentry-breathers/

Offline 21incher

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2014, 06:44:33 PM »
If I had a home heating tank, this is something like what I would use.

Bruce

http://www.airsentry.com/air-sentry-breathers/

That looks like it would help but sounds like it is best to use up what I have and only buy about 15 gallons a year to be safe
Hudson HFE-21 on a custom trailer, Deere 4100, Kubota BX 2360, Echo CS590 & CS310, home built wood splitter, home built log arch, and a logrite cant hook.

Offline Woodboogah

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2014, 10:32:12 AM »
I use bio medic in my diesel fuel after having an algae problem.  Have never had a problem since.   I would assume it would work in heating oil. 
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Offline LeeB

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2014, 11:26:24 AM »
Spend $40 on a sample analysis. Treat it if still ok and keep it treated.
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Offline JohnG28

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2014, 11:42:51 AM »
I can attest that they will soak up water from the air. Bought my house almost 3 years ago and had a (no longer in use) tank in the basement with about 35 gal in it. 3 weeks after we moved in the bottom of the tank ruptured, spilling the oil all over my partially finished basement. Over $15k in damages, which are excluded from most homeowners policies, btw, mine included!  >:( Trust me, you don't want this. It was likely there close to 30 years,  but I'll never know for sure.
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Offline Randy88

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 08:19:10 AM »
Burn it out and get on with life, algae isn't your only problem, over time, enough time fuel breaks down and settles out, some call it varnish creation others call it other things I can't print, but older tractors that need restoration usually have old diesel in the tanks, just like engine oil breaks down too over time, the waxes and things settle out.  You mentioned 15 years, I'm pretty sure long before it gets that old frustration is going to kick in and your going to get tired of filters and sedimentation your going to want to toss it out.   

I've demoed a lot of older houses, never had the fuel oil in the tanks done anything but add some heat to the fire we use to burn the house with, its never worth trying to use it for anything else, most are nowhere near 15 year old fuel in the tanks either.   As for treating it, I'm not sure that's done for long term storage, like a decade or more, most times it is just done for a couple years or less and some form of agitation involved too. 

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2014, 09:11:55 AM »
Over a period of time volatiles evaporate.  Not nearly so much as gasoline, but they do evaporate leaving a much heavier and less flammable liquid.  As Randy88 suggested above, burn it, clean it out, and refill with only enough that it can be used within a reasonable period of time.

There could also be condensate moisture (water) in the bottom of the tank.   :-\
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Offline John R

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2014, 09:22:02 PM »
There are company's that come out and filter the fuel while it's in the tank.
Hospitals have this done about twice a year for their back-up diesel generators.
 
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Offline 21incher

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2014, 08:30:10 AM »
I changed the oil filter an it looked pretty clean so I guess algae has not formed. The furnace is running fine so I am in the process of burning the oil for heat to use it up. Thanks for all the replies. It is one of those things that I never thought about when switching to wood heat and should have never had the tank filled. The good thing is I think it was only $1.99 a gallon back then.
Hudson HFE-21 on a custom trailer, Deere 4100, Kubota BX 2360, Echo CS590 & CS310, home built wood splitter, home built log arch, and a logrite cant hook.

Offline thechknhwk

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2014, 03:31:55 PM »
You could put a nitrogen blanket on it with a check valve to atmosphere and a regulator on the nitrogen supply in.  Probably not feasible, but just saying...

Offline 36 coupe

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2014, 06:27:05 AM »
I would use the oil up and add some fresh fuel.If you get hurt and cant lug firewood you will be glad to have the oil back up.Oil is running 3.60 now.My son was hurt in an auto accident aug 25 last year and is just getting off his walker now .I go every day to fill his wood box.He can get wood into the stove but never could have brought the wood in from the shed.He has just wood heat.New oil furnace but never hooked up.I use oil and wood but know the day is coming when I wont be able to handle wood.

Offline 36 coupe

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2014, 06:34:36 AM »
Sea Foam will help keep it fresh Rural King is the cheapest place around here to get it
Sea foam contains alcohol, naphtha and mineral oil.You need a diesel oil treatment that works.Go to a heating supply shop.They know what works..

Offline 21incher

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Re: Does fuel oil go bad?
« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2014, 08:07:55 AM »
I have decided to just burn it up and with this weather it is going fast. Breaks my heart to see money go up in flames but I think I will be better off emptying and cleaning the tank and then starting with treated fresh oil next year. One thing I found out is some oil suppliers sell fuel oil that is already treated in their tanks. Seems that every post on this forum provides me with a free education. Thanks everyone.
Hudson HFE-21 on a custom trailer, Deere 4100, Kubota BX 2360, Echo CS590 & CS310, home built wood splitter, home built log arch, and a logrite cant hook.


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