Does anyone have any sort of miracle solution to unplug a clogged up oil
tank whistle? Mine is plugged up by what I'm assuming is flies and ladybugs
(We got plenty of those this year). Air still comes out of the vent pipe
when the tank is being filled so is must be going around the whistle.
The last time the oil delivery guy was here, the tank was empty so he
had no problem filling it by watching the meter after confirming there were
no leaks (since it's a 1 year old tank). He indicated it was a one-time
deal however and that I need to get that whistle working again.
From what I can see to get the whistle out of the tank involves
dismantling the entire vent pipe. The vent pipe has about 3 joints that
would all have to be undone and involves going underneath a very shallow
(18" in some spots) deck to take it all apart. The tank installer cursed
the entire time he was under there. Now there is -20C freezing temperatures
and snow to contend with so I doubt I'd get anyone to go under until spring
Is there some way to clear the blockage without pulling the whistle?
There are 3 elbows between the top of the vent and the tank.
I have lived in several houses with oil heat, and never heard a
whistle...... I just had a fill guage in the tank center, and a 2
inch fill pipe, and 1 inch vent pipe. I was in WI.
Is this something local to your area? What state?
On Wed, 7 Jan 2004 23:20:59 -0500, "Steve"
The whistle is so the guy who is filling the tank gets a warning
before it overflows.
The original poster was posting from Canada-- but I'm from NY & it has
been required here for at least 30 years.
They appear to be required in Wisconsin these days --
They are usually part of the vent pipe &unless you're right there and
listening for it, you might never associate the whistling with the
Funny you should ask that. I've lived in this house for almost 15 years &
never thought my oil tank might have a whistle. I had the same thing in my
head when I had my oil tank filled yesterday. As I'm standing there, sure
enough, the oil tank was whistling. So I asked the truck driver why the
oil tank had a whistle. When the whistle stops, the tank is full. It's to
prevent overflows. Learn something new everyday.
Usually the whistle is located in the vent pipe just above the tank. As
the tank is filled the oil level rises and air is forced out of the vent
pipe past the whistle. When the oil begins to rise into the vent pipe
it submerges the whistle and the whistle stops making a sound. My guess
is that insects aren't the problem since the vent cover has a screen in
it. Since the tank is only a year old I'd get the fellow who installed
it back out. Removing the vent line can be a major production but
that's the way to the whistle. Do you have an unused opening in the top
of you tank that would accept a level sensor?
Your answer is close, but not quite right.
I'm qualified to pontificate about this subject as 20 some years ago I spent a
dozen years of my career as the Chief Engineer of the Scully Signal Company. That
company was the original promoter and manfacturer of the whistling tank fill
signal, (The "Scully Signal") which it brought onto the market in the early
That device made "automatic unattended oil delivery" possible. The company still
makes those whistling fill signals, along with lots of other mechanical and
electronic equipment associated with fuel oil and gasoline delivery and storage.
Prior to that invention, if the fuel oil tank was inside a house, oil delivery
required access to the inside to check how much the tank could accept and
sometimes even a second person in there watching a tank gauge, or just looking in
an bung hole, ready to bang on the vent pipe with a wrench to signal the guy
outside to stop filling.
The whistle has a hollow stem extending down from it about 5 or 6 inches into the
tank. When the rising oil level reaches the bottom of the stem, the venting
air/oil vapor stops flowing through that tube and blowing the whistle, signaling
that the tank is filled to a safe level, and leaving enough head space to
accomodate the expansion of the possibly cold oil warming up to interior
If as you said, the oil had to be all the way up to the vent pipe to stop the
whistle, then the deliveryman would have to act super quick to shut the nozzle
before oil came spraying out of the vent pipe, and there'd be no head room left
the tank for expansion of the oil.
The whistle and it's tube are "loose" and form a mushroom shaped gravity operated
presure relief valve which acts to keep the air/vapor pressure above the oil
relatively constant over a wide range of filling flow rates. As the flow rate
increases, the whole whistle and it's stem rises to spill the excess pressure
around it. And the whistles have a "bug screen" built right on them, because not
all vent caps are screened.
The whistling fill signal is a very simple device that almost never fails, and if
it does, it "fails safe", as the deliveryman is trained to stop filling if he
doesn't hear a whistle from the ventpipe within a second or two of starting to
fill the tank.
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS!
You won't have to dismantle all the vent piping. You can just cut the pipe and
rejoin it with a double ended compression coupling after you remove and replace
the whistling fill signal. There are even fill signals made with a compression
fitting on thier top ends, which you could use if you hacksaw the vent pipe right
at the top of the existing signal, providing there's enough spring in the
to accomodate things.
I'd lean on the original installer to replace that fill signal.
Let us know what happens...
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone to place
the blame on."
Is there a way you could take a digital picture of this device and
post it somewhere (alt.binaries.pictures) or something.
I want to see what this thing looks like. I never knew they existed,
nor have I ever heard one when my tank was filled (about 15 years
ago). I have gas since then. (the older I get, the more gas I get)
On Fri, 09 Jan 2004 15:07:48 -0500, Jeff Wisnia
Here the whistle is just mounted at the end of a vent pipe. The key
word is "mounted" - it isn't part of the pipe. You just take it off
and replace it with a new one. Here it's a 10 minute job.
replying to Steve, Rickyd61 wrote:
A much easier way, I have found,although depending on how blocked your whistle
is, is to switch the hose on your shopvac so that its blowing, not sucking, and
alternate blowing air down the vent,and fill pipes alternately. This may free up
the obstruction. This has worked for me in the past, and also not worked,again,
depending on what's obstructing the whistle. Good luck
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