Heating oil tank, fill pipe seeping at the fittings

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Old 06-21-16, 10:39 AM
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Heating oil tank, fill pipe seeping at the fittings

I recently had my home heating oil tank replaced, which included the company installing new fill and vent pipes. I then had the tank filled.

I noticed after the fill that there was seepage at the elbows and pipe-to-tank connection. Not a stream, but a definite wet sheen on the pipe, both inside the house and outside. Enough to leave wet oil on my fingers when I touched it.

My old tank did that, but it was also exceptionally old. And I know that a little drop of oil can go a long way in terms of spreading. But since the tank was just installed, I called the company. They sent a tech out who initially said, "The fill line is under pressure during a fill, so some seepage is normal." But then the tech said he checked with the boss, and the boss said they would redo the piping.

In my mind, the fill pipe shouldn't leak. Visible staining on the fill pipe is one of the criteria that the state puts on their homeowner checklist for "Is it time to replace your tank." I wanted y'all's opinion, though. Am I being unreasonable for making an issue over seepage like this?
 
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Old 06-21-16, 10:45 AM
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And I know that a little drop of oil can go a long way in terms of spreading.
...... and of smelling too.

In my opinion...... no oil seepage is acceptable..... especially in new piping.
The boss agreed to redo it...... make sure he does.
 
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Old 06-21-16, 03:23 PM
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This staining or seepage at the threaded joints is the result of using an incorrect thread sealant. NEVER use Teflon tape on threaded joints subject to fuel oil, or any oil for that matter. Rectorseal #5 is okay, but my favorite (also the favorite of many others that deal with fuel oil on a regular basis) is Permatex Number 2. I have never had an oil leak using the Permatex number 2 compound.
 
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Old 06-21-16, 06:35 PM
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Yeah, the smell is what tipped us off. Actually, it was company that came over and asked why the house smelled like oil. I guess my nose isn't as good as it used to be.

Furd -- I don't know exactly what they used, but I never saw Teflon tape when I was talking to them. They had a container of some black goop, but I didn't catch a name on it. I can't imagine that they would have used the wrong stuff, since this is a large, reputable heating oil company, and this was a company crew that primarily does tank installs.

I was wondering if the thread sealant maybe didn't have time to set up or cure before it was exposed to pressure from filling, but I know a lot of the thread sealers are non-hardening so that shouldn't be an issue. Oh well. Not my problem to figure out at least.

What I'm really worrying about is that they will redo it, but I won't know if there's still a problem until I next get it filled some time in the fall/winter.
 
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Old 06-21-16, 07:47 PM
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I have never seen the Permatex number 2 in anything but a tube. Rectorseal is usually in a can with a brush in the lid or sometimes in larger cans without the brush. Permatex is almost black in color, the Rectorseal more like a yellowish ivory color.

There are other compounds as well that work. Copaltite makes some but they are more often used in high temperature installations. All the Copaltite products I have seen (not that many) were absolutely black.

Very few pipe thread compounds set up rock hard, Permatex number 1 is one that does. The soft-set products do not need any time to "set" or "harden" before use.

I utterly detest the smell of number 2 (diesel) fuel oil although the heavy industrial fuel known as "Bunker C" is not unpleasant to me. I know that it is common back east, or at least in New England, to have the fuel oil tanks in the basement of a house but to me the possibility of spill and more so, the stink is just too much for this kid. Yes, I also know that the reason for the inside tanks is so they don't get too cold for the oil to flow properly but there are means to combat that problem.
 
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Old 06-21-16, 08:29 PM
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Definitely wasn't a tube, and definitely wasn't Rectorseal. I have a jar of the #5 myself, so I'm familiar with that. When they come back out, I'll try to find out.

I would have been okay with an outdoor tank, but alas, we're in an older part of town with small lots, and there's really no feasible spot for it due to zoning regs and setbacks. I think if I put it on my front porch right next to the front door, it would have been okay.

I've never been entirely a fan of fuel oil myself. The smell isn't that bad to me (though apparently I can't smell it well anyway?), but I dislike the risk of a spill in the house, and knowing I have a limited supply. I grew up with natural gas, and I wish the utility would extend it here, but that's not likely.
 
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Old 06-21-16, 08:34 PM
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Not to get off the subject. A good friend of mine had an oil burner at his mothers house. When natural gas came thru they switched over to it. I don't remember exactly what happened but I believe the oil fill lines were left in place as they were partially underground and the tank was removed. No one cancelled the oil auto fill...... need I say more.
 
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Old 06-24-16, 11:26 AM
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Well, they came back out and applied more pipe dope and tightened everything down even more. (Juggling the baby, I didn't get a chance to ask what dope they used.)

They said that everything was already super-tight. What they theorize is that it was actually some of the thread-cutting oil from the installation that wicked down the pipes. I think they may be right, and I saw the cutting oil and smelled the smell of the fresh oil fill and thought it was a leak. Which apparently fooled the technician who came out to check it as well.

That doesn't explain why it was only at some of the joints with cut threads and not others. But unfortunately that's the best theory we can come up with.

They do acknowledge that no seepage is normal or acceptable. But their truck's holding tank can't put oil back in under as much pressure as the delivery truck does, so if it did seep under pressure we will only know when I get my next delivery.
 
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Old 06-24-16, 03:23 PM
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They may not have had to cut all the threads. They may have started with a piece of pipe with one end already threaded.

After the cut... the threading oil gets wiped off so that it doesn't dilute the sealant.
I guess the only way now to know if the problem is resolved is to check it after the next fill up.
 
 

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