How To Clean A Filter On An Outside Oil Tank

Wednesday 19th April 2023

Ellen Warren

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Outside oil tank


Many homeowners, particularly in rural counties, use domestic heating oil tanks to warm their homes. Although there are many perks to owning your own heating system, it requires extensive maintenance. You must regularly change your oil filter to prevent corrosion, leaks, and spills.

Here at ICE Cleaning, we offer fast and effective oil spill cleaning services. Our specialist cleaners can contain and decontaminate an affected area using powerful equipment and neutralising solutions. We are available round the clock, nationwide, and can be on site in several hours in an emergency.

Read on to learn more about how to change the filter to prevent leaks and spills.

How to tell if your oil filter needs changing

Regularly changing your oil filter will help prevent oil spills or leaks. It also keeps your tank free of debris and corrosion that may occur during the colder months, so you should change your filter before winter.

You must switch out the filter at least twice a year, but as your tank reaches the ten-year mark, it might require more frequent filter changes. When your filter needs replacing, your oil tank will begin to show signs of:

Poor heating

You may notice that the heating in your home is lower than usual, has dropped significantly, or switched off entirely. A new filter is usually required when this happens, but it might be a sign of another underlying issue.

Dark smoke

If the smoke leaving your tank is darker than usual, this indicates too much moisture in the oil filter. You should change the filter immediately when this happens to prevent the release of harmful pollution.

Slow starts

When your oil tank stalls or makes loud noises upon starting, this is a sign of a clogged oil filter. If left too long, it could result in damage to your tank.

If these signs continue despite a change to the filter, you may see indicators of a leak. This includes the smell of burning oil, an oily residue on the tank, and nearby plant life wilting or dying.

When this happens, you should have your oil tank serviced immediately, or contact a professional cleaning company.

How to clean and change the filter on an oil tank

Before you change your oil filter, you must be sure that you are confident to carry the work out yourself. You should always consult a professional and take precautions by wearing gloves and protective gear in case oil spills.

You must be especially careful with the oil canister, the washers, and the rings of the tank. Smart Touch Energy recommends that you follow these steps carefully:

  • Ensure the tank is switched off
  • Place down absorbent mats or a bucket to catch oil
  • Close the shut-off valve or lever
  • Take out the canister base and then remove the oil filter
  • Assess and clean the area
  • Place the new filter inside and reattach the canister base
  • Turn the flow and power back on
  • Let some air out of the tank via the air bleeder screw
  • Do a final assessment of the tank to check for leaks or spills
  • Contact an oil spillage cleaning company if there is waste or a leak

Is it safe to clean an oil tank yourself?

Cleaning your oil tank at least once a year will prevent corrosion, spills, and leaks. Sludge in your tank builds up over time, allowing debris, rust, and sediments to contaminate the oil storage.

This can result in damage to your tank that causes a leak, and outside oil tanks may contaminate the local environment if this happens.

Although you might feel qualified to do this work alone, you should hire a company specialising in hazardous waste disposal and oil spill clean-up services to assist you. The oil may require draining, posing a risk to the environment and contaminating the soil in your garden.

Having a specialist on-site who works with an oil spillage cleaning company will help you follow local regulations and dispose of any oil sludge or hazardous waste properly.

Is your domestic oil tank unsafe?

As an owner of an oil tank, you have a responsibility to ensure that it will not leak or cause a significant spill. If your oil tank is outside, you must take preventative measures to ensure the environment around your property is safe.

An oil spill requires a thorough cleaning operation which could be costly, and without these services, you may be fined by the local council. Because of these risks to yourself and the environment, you should check your tank monthly for damage.

When inspecting your tank, you must also check the pipework and foundations. If you spot these warning signs, you might need to replace your tank:

  • The smell of fuel or burning oil
  • Oily residue around the base or on the tank
  • Overgrown with unwanted foliage
  • Splitting or cracking in the foundations
  • Rust covering the tank
  • Unusual bulging of the tank
  • An increase in fuel use

If you have any concerns about your tank and are considering upgrading your heating, contact an OFTEC technician who can assist you. However, if the environmental and financial risks have become too great, you could switch to another heating alternative.

What to do if your oil tank leaks

If your tank begins to leak due to a faulty tank or oil filter, it is imperative that you act quickly to protect yourself and the environment. The Scottish Environmental Protective Agency has a handy guide on how to deal with spills here.

There are various dangers present in an oil spill such as pollution and hot oil that could burn your skin. Do not try to clean the spill yourself unless you are qualified to do so. Before trying to tackle the spill, you should wear protective clothing, gloves, and a mask. You must then:

  • Turn off the stop tap if possible
  • Use an oil spill kit if you are qualified to clean it up
  • Take note of how much oil was lost
  • Contact the local council, environmental agency, local water company, and your insurance company to inform them of the incident
  • Avoid washing the oil away with water or soap
  • Call an oil spill damage cleaning company

Get in touch

Here at ICE Cleaning, our oil spill cleaning services can ensure that your property and the local environment are restored and decontaminated. Our expert oil cleaners are fully qualified to tackle heating oil spills, gasoline spills, diesel spills, and hydraulic oil spills on various surfaces.

You can reach our friendly team at 0208 066 0360 or to book a free site survey in case of an oil spill. We can be on-site in a matter of hours in an emergency.

Sydney Bowell

Sydney Bowell

Operations Assistant

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