What Causes Sludge In Oil Tanks?

above ground oil tank

March 22nd, 2021

Sludge building up in an oil tank is a relatively rare phenomenon. Sludge mostly occurs in areas with very cold winters and only becomes an issue when heating oil levels are low. However, sludge in your oil tank is very bad and when it happens it can cause a number of issues. You can’t heat your home correctly, you are at risk of the tank degrading, and the cleanup of sludge can be expensive and messy. If you are worried about sludge in your oil tank, here is everything you need to know.

 What Is Sludge?

Sludge is a term for the thick buildup that can occur inside of an oil tank. Sludge is typically a mixture of oil, dirt and debris, rust, and even microorganisms like bacteria and mold. It usually occurs when oil has been in storage for a long time, but can also be a byproduct of a rusted or leaky oil tank. Sludge is developed as the oil is exposed to temperature changes, air, and light which can trigger chemical changes. These changes lead to larger molecules that harden and become thick. Sludge attracts dirt, rust, and bacteria, making it a thick mess. When present in your heating oil tank, it can cause your home heating system to become inefficient and ultimately, breakdown.

 5 Ways To Prevent Sludge

The best way to deal with sludge is to avoid it in the first place. Here are some tips to keep the sludge out of your home oil tank:

Keep your oil tank levels at least half full at all times as sludge typically forms when oil levels are low.

Have your tank regularly inspected to prevent any corrosion or leaks that can lead to sludge.

When you have your tank filled in the winter, have your company add a sludge dispersant treatment.

Buy quality heating oil from a reputable supplier.

Have your tank fully drained and refilled to remove any potential sludge buildup.

These basic maintenance tips will help prevent the sludge in your tank from building up. However, if you already have sludge, you will need to have it removed before it becomes a huge problem.

 What To Do If Your Tank Has Sludge

The best thing to do when you think you may have sludge in your oil tank is to call a professional oil tank services company. They will start by fully inspecting the oil tank to understand the root cause of the sludge. They will then remediate the sludge and clear out your tank. Then they will make recommendations on how to prevent sludge from building up in the future and fix any existing damage.

 If you think you have sludge in your oil tank, the expert team at Meridian Environmental Services Inc. can help. We’ll identify the cause of the sludge, fully clean your tank so it runs efficiently, and offer tips and advice to keep your tank running smoothly. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and provide more information on how we can help you get the sludge out of your oil tank.