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#4629838 - 01/09/18 09:35 PM Home Heating Oil
Finz Offline


Registered: 06/06/13
Posts: 692
Loc: Northern NJ
Can home heating oil freeze or gel?

My nephew arrived at our family place near Cambridge, VT this evening to no heat or water

We drain the plumbing when we leave as well as close all heating vents. Thereís a thermostat in basement Which holds heat to mid to high 40ís to prevent pipes in basement from freezing.

Been doing this since the seventies

Nephew arrives and the basement is below freezing. Of course water wonít turn on (good at this point)

Iím told: ď... furnace kicks on. Makes a loud strange noise, then stops. Does this very few minutesĒ

My question being 300 miles away: could the heating oil have gelled? Could that possibly be why the furnace is cycling?
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#4629846 - 01/09/18 09:52 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
doitmyself Offline


Registered: 06/03/02
Posts: 6231
Loc: MI
If they do not have diy diagnostic skills, you will probably have to call someone in. I.E., they could loosen the fuel line at the furnace and see it there is flow. Its been decades since I used fuel oil heat, but since it is a form of diesel fuel( No. 2 fuel oil), I would say that yes, it is possible for it to have gelled if it is located outdoors. Usually, the fuel is treated for this, but who knows. It could be a bit of water in the line or filter that has froze. Maybe a clogged filter? Maybe a bad igniter, sensor, or nozzle on the furnace?

Good luck!


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#4629849 - 01/09/18 09:54 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
madRiver Offline


Registered: 07/11/15
Posts: 3545
Loc: New England
Home heating gets gelled or Clouded. I am guessing the boiler failed though if you maintain 40F as that is too warm for gel/clouding to happen.

Good luck. Really hard time to find service as they overwhelmed for obvious reasons.

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#4629851 - 01/09/18 09:55 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
irad Offline


Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 59
Loc: NJ
Gels at 15-20 degrees F. It clogs filters and the inside of fuel lines. Add kerosene to lower the gel point.

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#4629858 - 01/09/18 10:17 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
andyd Offline


Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 7167
Loc: Marshfield , MA
Fuel oil gels about 0F. Plain old 2.93 $ a gallon road diesel didn't look too clear as I decanted 14 gallons all told into my near empty outside oil tank. I ran out over Sat night. Froze is probably more accurate. The heat tape I installed 5 yrs ago failed. I shut a few valves and open a few connections The line is 7/16 copper tubing, about a 6' run to the filter which has a shut off/ heat gizmo left handed valve. Tank outlet has one too, plus a ball valve. I was getting no flo, so I got more diesel. I only have a 5 gall and a 2 gallon jugs. No joy. Got out the heat gun heated the out side of the run and the tank. I opened the valve, no flow. I blew through the tube. At first resistance, then bubbles.I tilted the tube down into a vessel and it flowed. I ran out, shut off the the flow. I reconnected the line and bled the filter. The burner took a few primes to catch. after I bled the pump until fuel flowed.

what your nephew needs is to get some diesel anti -gel either from a plumbing supply or an auto parts store. The heat gun I used is a glorified hair dryer. I used some clear tubing and a gallon jug to catch oil as I played with stuff. Please report back TIA
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#4629861 - 01/09/18 10:20 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: irad]
Finz Offline


Registered: 06/06/13
Posts: 692
Loc: Northern NJ
Thanks all...

His diy skills are... maturing shall we say. Tool selection up there isnít horrible but you have to improvise

He found a heating guy who should be there within an hour... NJ rates? 2nd mortgage. Up there in VT? Not a clue but will be worth every penny (within reason) if they can get the place heating up.

Round II: Water tomorrow

Off topic but this is among the reasons I have my kids place a cheap backpack in their cars with a wool cap, gloves, emergency blankets, heavy socks, matches,... Jeremiah Johnson stuff.

Takes up so little room and, if itís always there, you know right where to look

Thanks again
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#4629864 - 01/09/18 10:24 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: andyd]
Finz Offline


Registered: 06/06/13
Posts: 692
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: andyd
Fuel oil gels about 0F. Plain old 2.93 $ a gallon road diesel didn't look too clear as I decanted 14 gallons all told into my near empty outside oil tank. I ran out over Sat night. Froze is probably more accurate. The heat tape I installed 5 yrs ago failed. I shut a few valves and open a few connections The line is 7/16 copper tubing, about a 6' run to the filter which has a shut off/ heat gizmo left handed valve. Tank outlet has one too, plus a ball valve. I was getting no flo, so I got more diesel. I only have a 5 gall and a 2 gallon jugs. No joy. Got out the heat gun heated the out side of the run and the tank. I opened the valve, no flow. I blew through the tube. At first resistance, then bubbles.I tilted the tube down into a vessel and it flowed. I ran out, shut off the the flow. I reconnected the line and bled the filter. The burner took a few primes to catch. after I bled the pump until fuel flowed.

what your nephew needs is to get some diesel anti -gel either from a plumbing supply or an auto parts store. The heat gun I used is a glorified hair dryer. I used some clear tubing and a gallon jug to catch oil as I played with stuff. Please report back TIA


Thanks Andy... good stuff. Iím copying/texting this to myself as a note just in case
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God Bless America... We really need it about now

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#4629883 - 01/09/18 10:50 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
andyd Offline


Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 7167
Loc: Marshfield , MA
Survival cold weather clothes kit is a great Idea. I would add D handle coal shovel for ice and snow removal. Plumber will have heat faster than I can type this. Best choice. I got up to an angry wife and 45F house. Couldn't think straight, due to cold. Fog cleared fast at 7F Make sure the thermostat is calling for heat too. grin2
_________________________
'16 Camry LE STP synth 0w20 and STP filter. the Fridge

1994 Ranger ,the Rat, 5w30 dino, STP filter

'16 Camry SE, Valvoline HM 0w20 and OEM filter
Thick oil is better grin2

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#4629913 - 01/09/18 11:45 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
Wolf359 Offline


Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 4774
Loc: MA
Is there a condensate pump for the furnace? Just happened to someone I know, it pumps water out and it was too cold in the basement, so the sewer lines clogged.

When temps have been below freezing for so long, there's lots of frozen pipes out there and plumbers tend to recommend setting the thermostat to 70.

Sounds like it's just time to warm up the basement with some electric heaters.

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#4629997 - 01/10/18 06:09 AM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Wolf359]
georgemiller Offline


Registered: 10/30/09
Posts: 188
Loc: New York
Started putting this in my tanks and haven't had any freeze ups.

FPPF Hot 4-In-1 Heating Oil Treatment


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#4630038 - 01/10/18 07:21 AM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
Donald Offline


Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 20472
Loc: Upstate NY
Most houses have oil tanks in basement which is typically above freezing. Or underground which is probably also above freezing.

Some, mostly trailers have outside oil tanks and need a blend. Many outdoor oil tanks hold kerosene for trailer heaters.


Edited by Donald (01/10/18 07:22 AM)
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#4630053 - 01/10/18 07:38 AM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
dnewton3 Offline



Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 7392
Loc: Indianapolis, IN
Home heating oil is just the cheap version of diesel fuel; HHO does not have the added lubricity and detergents necessary for fuel injection systems. Other than that (and no on-road taxes, dye, etc) it's pretty much the same.

Therefore, it's susceptable to the same concerns. Most notably:
1) gel point (aka cloud point, CPP, etc)
2) contamination

As for concern #1, if your tank is stored in an area that gets below 40F, and/or has a line that goes in such an area, you need to use an anti-gel agent. There is a difference between the wax cloud and ice crystals. Depending upon raw fuel used, wax can start to harden as early as 40F, whereas ice crystals can form at 32F. Both need separate treatment plans.

As for concern #2, filtration can help, but also poses issues, because HHO and diesel fuel LOVES to entrain moisture in the fuel. That often encourages folks to use a demulsifier (agent that causes moisture to fall out of suspension). Problem with that is that the water can collect in certain areas, and then micro-organisms can grow; you get bacterial growth that looks very much like "snot" (mucus). This can coat surfaces of filters and clog up lines. So often an anti-microbial agent is also necessary.

If the fuel is not flowing freely, you must ascertain WHY it's not flowing, and discover the root cause, or the wrong treatment might not affect your concern.

I recommend treating the fuel with an anti-microbial at all times; use with every tank fill-up. If you have moisture and/or wax and ice concerns, treat for that too, as needed.



Edited by dnewton3 (01/10/18 07:39 AM)
_________________________
The act of preventative maintenance, in and of itself, is FAR MORE important than brand/grade/base choices among lubes and filters.
- under maintaining something is akin to abuse/neglect; that can kill equipment by shortening the lifespan
- over maintaining something has never been proven to be anything but a waste of time and money

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#4630111 - 01/10/18 08:41 AM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
Gillsy Offline


Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 342
Loc: Owego, New York
Originally Posted By: Finz
Can home heating oil freeze or gel?

My nephew arrived at our family place near Cambridge, VT this evening to no heat or water

We drain the plumbing when we leave as well as close all heating vents. Thereís a thermostat in basement Which holds heat to mid to high 40ís to prevent pipes in basement from freezing.

Been doing this since the seventies

Nephew arrives and the basement is below freezing. Of course water wonít turn on (good at this point)

Iím told: ď... furnace kicks on. Makes a loud strange noise, then stops. Does this very few minutesĒ

My question being 300 miles away: could the heating oil have gelled? Could that possibly be why the furnace is cycling?
Yes it can gel if it gets cold enough. Many outside tanks get a fuel oil/kerosene blend to prevent gelling. Call your fuel oil supplier, and have them add (or you add)the proper mixture. I think locally they use a 50/50blend. Can you get a portable electric heater to warm the basement? Good luck!
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#4630168 - 01/10/18 09:22 AM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: Finz]
SHOZ Offline


Registered: 06/28/03
Posts: 5751
Loc: Illinois
The pump will have a bleeder screw on it to check for flow. I also have a schrader valve installed just inside the house where the line comes in. Using a shut of valve between it and the pump I can blow air back into the tank to open that line or mix the fuel in the tank.
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#4630934 - 01/10/18 09:28 PM Re: Home Heating Oil [Re: SHOZ]
Finz Offline


Registered: 06/06/13
Posts: 692
Loc: Northern NJ
Many thanks everyone... they were able to get a heating guy in who, last I heard, determined that the furnace blower was on the fritz... explains the odd noises they were hearing.

Was supposed to have been replaced this evening but I havenít gotten any updates

Really great input from you all...

Thanks again...!
_________________________
God Bless America... We really need it about now

06 Odyssey
06 Civic coupe
05 Accord 2.4 sedan
11 Civic 1.8 sedan
18 Civic 1.5l Turbo sedan

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