Oil Problems | Making Your Hot Water Tank Last

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The oil industry has had problems lately.  It is bad enough that the natural disasters have hurt oil refineries, slowing down production, and that speculators are playing with the pricing, we now have had some contaminates in the fuel that no one has figured out what or how it is getting in the system. Starting in late November through March, from Maine to Connecticut, there have been sporadic outbreaks of fuel oil problems that have many service providers trying to find answers to what is causing it.  There has been a lot of no-heat calls and equipment shut downs due to clogged filters and oil nozzles, faulty oil pumps, and the strangest looking growth formations inside the combustion chambers that many have never seen before.

A properly running oil burner would typically have some deposits of some sort around the area where the burn process happens. However, lately we are finding that in some cases giant formations of carbon looking substances, which are very hard and shiny,  have to be chiseled out. The problem has warranted meetings of the top oil companies to local oil dealers and heating service providers to get together and discuss the issue. Some are blaming the Biofuel that is being added to all oil up to 5% with no disclosure.  Supposedly, this is mandated by the government. The big oil companies don’t even know it is in the mix, so I am told. The Biofuel advocates say that in the millions of gallons that have been tested, the burners or equipment are usually cleaner than if run with straight oil.

I am not an expert on the subject, but I have recently learned a lot from some of the best oil professionals in the business. My personal opinion is that there is Biofuel in the mix and the oil companies don’t know it. This fuel mix cannot be allowed to freeze. No one locally that I know of has heated oil trucks that keep the fuel mix from freezing. So if this freezes, and the Biofuel comes out of solution, it could be the problem. Also there are a number of additives being added from “tank farm” to vendor and then the end user. It is possible that there is a chemical mix that has been compromised. In conclusion, samples have been sent to the lab and we are waiting for the results. As a precaution, I am continuing to add chemical cleaner to my oil tank. I have researched and discovered a better oil treatment called UltraGuard which has had high reviews.  Please call me if you would like more information.

On the  issue of Hot Water Tanks Many people are not aware that there is an anode rod in their hot water tank to protect their tank from the minerals and galvanic corrosion. This anode rod is a sacrificial part and is installed in the tank to reduce

corrosion. A tank full of hot water acts very much like a battery with small electrical currents flowing between the different types of metals. The anode rod is made of aluminum or magnesium which is more conductive than the steel of the tank. The electrical currents corrode the anode rod rather than the tank. With that said, the anode rod should be checked, or changed in some cases, every year depending on whether the water is from a well or municipality. The tank should also be flushed at that time. Some areas have bad water that needs to be treated which causes hot water tanks to fail sooner than later. In some homes, where the water has high mineral content, I have seen three tanks replaced within 10 years, then that same tank with city water will last 20 years. My father had a hot water tank that was over 45 years old! I had it replaced just to be safe.

If you would like us to check your anode rod, call Debbie or Brenda. We can check it at the same time we do your yearly maintenance. Unfortunately, for some older tanks, the rod is not accessible and, if the tank is older then 5 years, it may be too late. I have replaced rods in older tanks and the tank still failed a few months later. The home owner was not a happy camper. 

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