Does anyone have any experience of remedying an oil drip on the pipework
of a heating oil tank? I've got this small but persistent drip, I think
from one of the joints around the sight gauge.
The tank doesn't have a shutoff valve (I know, I know) so I can't simply
close it off, which is a pity as there is 1500 litres still in there.
Almost certainly I will have to get a man in, but what exactly will he
do and how much will it cost? Is it better to tolerate the leak until
the tank's nearly empty and replace the piping then? Unfortunately it's
summer and 1500 litres will last for months ...
I don't know if it's the one I've used on tanks, but there's a tank
repair kit about halfway down this page:-
The one I used stuck to metal which was as dry as I could wipe it, and I
believe the fire brigade use something similar for leaking tanks.
If it's from the sight gauge, it may be a perished seal round the glass,
which is a different problem.
This might just work, without creating an unholy mess that would make a
proper repair difficult later:
When you get a fitter in, might be an idea to get an isolation valve
fitted too :)
Depends how fast the drip is and the chances of it becoming a flood. An
oil leak that contaminates land or water can need expensive remediation.
That is worth fixing too when you get the man in.
A certified heating oil guy will have a tank and pump with him and move
the oil out of your tank while he works on it. It will obviously cost
the time it takes him to pump oil each way plus his other charges.
My old metal oil tank failed by corrosion from the inside. It looked
perfect externally but about an inch from the bottom turned out to be
rust held together externally by Hammerite (the old good stuff).
When they tried to lift it away the base stayed put and split away.
Worth considering having a Watchman instead of a sight gauge...
On Sun, 22 Jun 2014 10:02:01 +0100, Big Les Wade wrote:
Can you wrap the offending joint with self amalgamting tape? That
should contain/stop it until you can get things sorted out properly.
A shut off valve is essential, if the pipe sprung a real leak and the
oil got into the ground you really don't want the EA to find out.
They will have you remove all the "contaminated" soil and disposed of
as "hazardous waste". BIG bill time, your insurance might cover it
unless the leak is due to neglect...
On Sun, 22 Jun 2014 12:01:56 +0100, Martin Brown wrote:
I don't think suppliers will fill a tank that doesn't have a working
sight gauge. With out one they would have to dip the tank to make
sure there is enough space for the delivery. The delivery head
doesn't have auto shut off like a garage petrol/diesel nozzle does
and they deliver rather quickly, at a guesstimate around 5 l/s
(approx 1 gallon/sec)(*). That rate would deliver a 50 l fill up for
a car 10 seconds ...
The display on a Watchman would be inside the house (and doesn't work
when unplugged), is rather coarse and the calibration can be
(*) Working on 5 to 10 mins pumping to deliver 2000 l.
Locally, all the suppliers we have used have no problem with the lack
of a sight gauge, they either look into or dip our tank. And our tank is
fitted with an auto-shutoff feed pipe, that no supplier has a matching
And Watchman units had a bad patch a year or so ago, there were several
where the alarm function failed, usually 'ON', and our installer told us
that Watchman were being very unhelpful with the many complaints they
were getting. Always out of warranty, of course. I have heard no more
since then, though, so maybe they have sorted out whatever the problem
If it is round the sight tube there is a rubber washer,
Sometimes you can tighten a big nut or two bolts to fix the leak.
But the rubber may have gone hard.
If you have to have the tank emptied it will cost a fortune.
So put something to catch the drip and decant back into the tank for now.
Meanwhile get hold of a 45 Gall. oil drum +funnel & when the tank has run
down.drain off the remainder into buckets and fill the oil drum so work can
Be prepared for a pile of water/shit in the bottom of the tank if it is old
it may come out of the drain. Funnel with a strainer on is best.
I'd imagine it might be safer to use the old saucepan under the leak trick,
and poor it back when there is enough till its quite low.
I know a bloke down the road who had oil heating used this approach, cos I
asked him why he had a saucepan inside his little covered area where his
Oh its a little leak, I'll get around to fixing it one day.. The old round
From the Sofa of Brian Gaff Reply address is active
"Big Les Wade" < email@example.com> wrote in message
It depends on the leak. If it is small and you can collect the oil, then
you can just put it back in the tank via a filter (old shirt)
You don't say exactly where the leak is. Is there not a nut that you
I am not entirely sure where it is, but it *seems* to drip from the
little glass bowl underneath the sight gauge, which suggests that John
may be right about the perished gasket.
I am afraid to do much in the way of joint-tightening in case it goes
disastrously wrong ... and I haven't got a shutoff valve ...
On Monday, June 23, 2014 10:42:33 AM UTC+1, Big Les Wade wrote:
I think you are right to be cautious. I certainly would not try anything t ofix it until the tank is empty.
Presumably the tank does not have a bund wall round it, to contain a major leak if it happened. I think some newer design tanks have this built in in some way.
One possibility is to have a new tank installed (in a different place of course) and then pump the oil across, then reroute the pipes.
Modern tanks have an integrated bund - in effect, it's two tanks, one inside
(We have a steel one, rather than plastic, because we live on a farm and
there's a certain amount of shooting, but you get the idea.)
When we had our tank replaced, the installer brought a tank on a lorry, pumped
our oil into his tank, swapped our old tank for the new one, in the same place,
then pumped the oil back into the new tank.
Today is Prickle-Prickle, the 28th day of Confusion in the YOLD 3180
"I do not believe in revealed religion — I will have nothing to do with your
Little glass bowl? Is this a couple of inches dia and a couple of inches
deep? Secured by a bracket with nut or thumbscrew, or a circular nut, to a
metal housing? This could be a water separator or (if larger) a filter
housing. This glass bowl will have a fibre or rubberish washer as a seal, it
may be that causing the leak. Whatever it is, it did not get there by
accident and may not have been attended to for some while.
I would suggest give the whole area a good wipe down with rag and then a
clean with hot washing up liquid solution. When clean you 'should' be able
to locate the source of the leak.
Find out how the glass bowl is fixed, a GENTLE tweak might be the answer to
a maidens prayer.
Could you post on the web a couple of pics of the sight gauge & glass bowl
Won't help a great deal as you have no shutoff valve but may id where the
I would go with the flow on this (no pun intended). Catch the drops of
leakage if you can and either put it back in or keep it in a 20L container
for other use. Heating oil has several other good uses.
When the tank is getting low, normally 23rd December, have the problem fixed
and have an isolation valve installed.
Sadly one thing is for sure. This won't fix itself.
HTH and wish you all good luck.
Had a similar problem with my mums tank. 600gals installed early 70's less
than 3M from a watercourse in a very rural location AONB. 5 yrs ago it was
looking decidedly unhealthy.
As the level was getting low we bought a new 2600L plastic bunded tank.
Drained off the dregs and tipped the tank up to empty what we could into
6 of us were able to pick up the tank and put it on a nearby trailer. As we
did so it ruptured. Thankfully with minimal pollution as we'd already laid
down a load of old blankets/duvets etc.
Demolished existing pillar supports.
New tank put in position on existing concrete base. Remake pipework & fit
new filter housing.
Advice from the local firm that supplied her boiler juice for more than 30
years: (1) Watchman, spawn of the devil. (2) Sight gauge is something else
to go wrong and will inevitably discolour, making it unreadable. (3) Use a
Works for me and the guys that deliver the oil.
Apart from their vastly overpriced "custom" Duracells in a copper tube
ripoff scam I can't say that the Watchman has been any bother at all.
Certainly towards the end of our old tanks life the sight gauge was
completely unreliable especially during tank filling!
New one has an autostop and full capacity bunding.
It screws directly onto the metal component above it, like the lid of a
jamjar. I have tried tightening it but as I said I don't want to overdo
Pic is at
The pipe going out the back (from the viewer's POV) takes the fuel to a
filter and so to the boiler.
See the little metal button on the left, you are supposed to press that
to let oil into the sight gauge and so take a measurement, but I don't
dare touch it.
The tank is standing on a big concrete slab; the installer has formed a
little well just below the valve assembly, presumably to catch any
drips. I can't actually see any drips coming out of anywhere specific,
but there is definitely an accumulation of oil in the well over a period
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