A Guide to Cleaning Sludge from a Heating Oil Tank


How to Drain Heating Oil Tank & Clean Sludge

Sludge is bad for your tank. It clogs the oil pipes, safety valves, and filter noses; thus blocking the flow of oil. It contains chemicals that corrode the inner wall of the tank, which, if left unchecked, shortens your tanks useful life. Sludge is also dangerous for your health. If it leaks out, the contaminants in it pollute the environment and can also cause fires. This is why it is important to remove sludge from your tank periodically.

You do not need to hire a professional contractor to clean sludge from your heating oil tank. Cleaning sludge from a heating oil tank is a simple job that you can accomplish without a lot of effort if you are prepared to get your hands dirty in the process.


You will need the following supplies:

  • Plastic buckets
  • Cleaning agent
  • Water Hose
  • Air hose
  • Air pump
  • Cleaning Rags
  • Denatured alcohol


Here is a step by step guide on how to clean sludge from an oil tank:


Step 1: How to drain heating oil tank

The first step in cleaning oil tanks is to drain the tank completely. If you haven’t cleaned the tank for a long time, there may be a lot of sludge to drain out. Don’t worry about the oil left at the bottom; it is useless anyway. Place a plastic bucket under the tank’s drain valve and remove the valve cap. Let all the oil and sludge flow out of the tank into the bucket. When the outflow has stopped, remove the bucket and place it somewhere it won’t be a hindrance. After that, place another bucket under the drain valve and spray clean water into the tank. Let the water drain out until you see clean water and then close the valve.


Step 2: Clean the tank

Scrub the inside of the tank with cleaning rags to remove obstinate pieces of sludge and grime. Once you are done, fill up the tank with fresh water and add an adequate amount of cleaning agent into it, such as trisodium phosphate cleaner. The amount of cleaner to be added should be given in the instructions that came with the cleaner. Insert an air hose into the tank, start the air pump, and leave it for 12 hours. That should give the solution enough time to work. Open the valve and drain the solution out of the tank. All the remaining sludge is washed out of the tank. Once it’s empty, spray the inside of the tank with clean water using a water hose.


Step 3: Dry the tank

The tank may look empty, but there is still moisture remaining in it. If excess moisture is not removed, it can compromise the quality of heating oil later. Letting the sun and air do the job won’t do. Pour a few gallons of denatured alcohol into the tank and splash it to hit every inch of the inner walls. Denatured alcohol does an excellent job of absorbing the excess moisture remaining inside the tank. Insert the air hose into the tank, turn on the pump and let the alcohol evaporate along with the moisture captured. This will take less than an hour and completes the oil tank cleaning process.


Step 4: Refill the tank

Once you are finished with the fuel oil tank cleaning, you can refill the tank with heating oil. Ideally, you should clean sludge from your heating oil tank once every five years. This ensures that the quality of your heating won’t be compromised.


If you have decided that cleaning sludge from a heating oil tank is not a task you want to perform by yourself and need a reputable heating oil tank cleaning contractor, feel free to call All American Environmental in NJ anytime. One of our certified and licensed personnel will be happy to assist you.

All American Environmental is a full-service environmental company in NJ and can provide services to meet all of your oil tanks needs such as cleaning, sweep, removal, and installation.”

We hope you have gained valuable knowledge in reading our blog “A Guide to Cleaning Sludge from a Heating Oil Tank”

Contact All American Environmental NJ Today!

Visit our Facebook page and our new Twitter page.