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Fuel Oil News - Jul 18

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www.fueloilnews.com | FUEL OIL NEWS | JULY 2018 45 BY GEORGE LANTHIER HVAC/ HYDRONICS On February 10, 2018, I started my 52nd year in the business and I am still amazed that many of the service problems that continue to plague us are the same ones that have been there all along. Over the years my jobs have included working as a manufacturer's rep, a service manager, a teacher, and a self employed contractor. I guess the thing that's the most amazing is that the sin- gle biggest problem I had as a serviceman and have heard about throughout my career is directly related to one of our primary sales products, the fuel oil. After all, the only two things that consumers call on retail oil companies for are fuel oil and burner service and so this does create a serious prob- lem. What about burner equipment sales, you ask? They don't need you; ask any plumber or HVAC contractor! In the past we've considered all kinds of remedies and so- lutions, but never found one that did it all in one magic step and still haven't. I will however offer to you a few solutions, which I have stumbled upon while discussing service prob- lems with oilmen from Canada to the Carolinas. Before we get into possible cures however, let's look at the sickness. We are an industry now over 125 years old and with that comes part of the problem—our storage tanks. This must be recognized as a problem, like it or not. Not admitting it is stupid! In general, most of the fuel oil sold today is in fact superior to the fuel oil of years ago and is safer to our ecol- ogy, but it does have one serious drawback, the sulphur level has been reduced. This is not only true of No. 1 K, the blends and No. 6 but also of No. 2. The greatest disadvantage to this sulphur loss is that we have seen the increase in algae levels rise. We still get the occasional "bad load" and some "off spec" product still seems to sneak through every season however, many oil dealers have learned that after all the service prob- lems that come with fuel quality a good, treated oil is always worth a little more! If you believe you are having problems with the fuel oil you buy, have it tested and if it's bad, change suppliers, period. Forget price, this is your survival we're talk- ing about! Just remember that the suppliers are in gasoline too, fuel oil is not the only product they sell, unlike you! And to all you technicians who service burners for the guys who buy this stuff, my sympathies. I've been there! Getting into the age-old debate about tank truck pump- ing speeds is useless. But I won't shrug aside the fact that as the pumping speed of some of our tank vehicles goes up the problems in the basement increase proportionally, and that is a fact. Ask anybody who has been in the business over twenty years! Back to tanks. For the sake of simplicity, we will confine the discussions to the staple of the Northeast oil industry, the in-house tank. But, most of the concepts I will outline also apply to the outside or underground tank. Over the years I have spent numerous hours on the problems with fuel oil and will make one statement that I would bet the bank on "an old oil tank bottom is the dirtiest place on earth." One burner manufacturer has even stated, "There is normally two to six inches of 'sludge' at the bottom of the 'average' tank." Since 1995 and the onset of bottom outlet tanks, many of the problems have diminished. So, what do we do? Well, we could start an aggressive campaign to replace the few million tanks in use, but many of us in the industry believe that might cause many more to convert to gas. Let me tell you, if we don't keep our customers happy they are going to leave us one way or another! If we don't fix the service problems with bad tanks, they are going to go to gas for sure. How about a "retrofit" of the storage and delivery systems? 1. Thoroughly clean the tank. If you are not convinced and are not ready to set up a tank cleaning truck or purchase a tank-cleaning machine, try it the easy way. Contact a lo- cal company to do one tank cleaning. Or, get one for free by having a demonstration of a tank-cleaning machine done for you. It may also surprise you to find out that a friendly com- petitor owns one and may let you borrow or rent his. It is very important that you have easy access to this tank to per- form steps #3 and #4. Still can't think of a problem tank? How about the one outside your office window; or the one below you in the basement? 2. Provide for proper and adequate filtration. Aha! The real meat of this project, which we will look at later in detail. 3. Monitor the retrofit. This is very important so that you can prove to yourself that you are making progress. Before you do anything, take an oil sample at a couple of key points: (a) at the tank and get a sample of that sludge and (b) at the entrance to the burner pump (or get the oil in it). 4. Analyze and respond to the results. Take the samples and have them tested. I won't tell you what you will find be- cause I don't want to spoil the surprise. It is also a part of convincing you that all this effort is worth it. Once you find out what is in the oil besides the tank (iron oxides and such), you can now contact someone to see if any further action is required such as a chemical treatment or finding a new supplier. It is important that if large concentrations of water or The Fine Points of Filtration

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