The majority of homes in the UK have access to mainline gas central heating however there is thought to be roughly 3.6m homes which still do not have this access. This can often be in more rural areas of the UK; under these circumstances a useful alternative would be to install a heating oil tank. These are predominantly used in a “wet” heating structure in which the radiators and hot water (central heating in general) are powered through an oil-fired boiler that is heating the water. When first considering installing a heating oil tank, it might be a good idea to check if your local area has any regulations or requirements about installing such a tank. Generally it is recommended that you hire a professional to perform the installation as it is quite an involved task, however, if you feel that you are capable of installing it yourself here are some of the basic steps you might need to know:
One of the first things to consider is whether you have a suitable place to install your heating oil tank. Generally it is suggested that tanks be installed indoors and importantly with a solid base foundation, such as cement; this is why basements are often ideal locations. Although tanks can be placed outside it is less recommended as the tank is more likely to get damaged over time due to the weather. The next step is to find your heating oil tank, it is important that you are getting a new tank. You should never be installing a used tank. It is also important that the tank is UL listed, this will ensure that it has met safety guidelines. Another thing you will want to consider is installing a dripping pan in the location of where your heating oil tank will be; this just gives you peace of mind knowing any oil leaks will be captured and controlled.
Depending on the type of heating oil tank you buy you may need to attach metal legs onto it. It can be helpful to have the legs at the outlet end about 11 inches long and an inch longer than that at the other end – sloping the tank in this way will give enough room for the filter and shutoff valve. You should be able to inspect the tank from all sides, meaning the closest it should be to a wall is four inches; furthermore it should be a minimum of five feet away from fuel fired appliances. Somewhere at the top of the tank there will be a vent alarm (six inches high) remove its plug. When the tank is being filled it will whistle (alarm sound) but will stop when it is close to being full – the idea being that the tank will never overfill. It is important to seal the vent alarm with pipe thread sealant. Set up the oil gauge (there should be a specific spot for it on your tank), this simply tells you how much oil you have left. Again use pipe thread sealant for a reliable seal.
On one end you will have the supply connection line; on the other you will have the fill line (where the tank is filled from) and the vent line hole – remove the caps from this end. If you are installing your heating oil tank indoors then you will need the fill line piping (2 inches diameter) to extend to the outdoors; it is suggested you run this piping outside and near the foundations of the house. At the end of the outside pipeline place a fill cap. You will also need to run the vent pipe (1.25 inches diameter) from the vent line hole to the outdoors. And again install the cap on the end of the vent line pipe. Use pipe thread sealant on all these pipe links and for a reliable seal.
The supply line will be found at the front base of the tank; you will need to connect the shutoff valve and the oil filter (you will need to use the compression fitting for this one) to the supply line, make sure that the supply line is connected to the oil filter and the compression fitting. It may also be helpful to try and make sure the supply line runs alongside the wall, as this can help avoid damage to the line. You should give the supply line a protective cover such as grooved, polythene-coated copper piping. You run your supply line to the furnace.
Bio: Rebecca Field writes on behalf of The Oil Tank Stores, supplying heating oil tanks to the UK market.