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What is heating oil sludge, and how do I prevent it?

One thing we sometimes see when we perform heating system tune-ups for our customers is build up of thick black sludge in the fuel filter.

That sludge is a mix of dirt, rust, and oxidized fuel that settles to the bottom of your tank (the fuel oxidizes when condensation inside the tank – caused by temperature changes – interacts with bacteria and other organisms in the fuel).

While the fuel line for an oil furnace is designed to avoid drawing in this sludge, a routine fill up can stir sludge into the fuel mix. There sludge can clog your filters, rob your heating oil system of efficiency, and even cause your heating system to break down.

So what can you do to prevent heating oil sludge from accumulating? Here are four quick tips:

  1. Have your heating system serviced every year by a qualified technician. If there’s a sludge problem, your technician will know early enough to prevent a more costly repair down the road.
  2. Consider moving your heating oil tank indoors. This will reduce daily temperature swings that cause condensation build up. Enclosing your tank in an outdoor shed would help, too.
  3. Consider having your tank drained by a waste oil contractor (or, if it’s older than 20 years old, consider having it replaced). Removing years of built up sludge this way can save you money on repairs and help your heating system to perform better.
  4. Buy good fuel from a reliable supplier! Always remember – you get what you pay for, and not all fuel oil is created equal! “Discount” fuel companies typically don’t have their own storage facilities and buy from their fuel from cheapest suppliers they can find. At Rucci,we guarantee that every gallon of fuel we deliver is the best you’ll find in our service area.

Contact Rucci today to schedule maintenance for your heating oil system – or to learn more about our other great heating oil equipment and services!