Your furnace is the most important appliance within your home during the winter months, as it is the only one that actually makes your home comfortable to live in when the temperature has fallen below freezing. Oil-powered furnaces provide an effective and affordable source of heat for your home. However, just like all other types of major appliances, oil-burning furnaces can suffer from wear and tear over time. One of the major sources of potential wear for your furnace is the oil storage tank; damage and wear can eventually lead to an oil leak, which can be expensive to fix and a major safety hazard. Understanding the signs that you need to contact a HVAC professional to have the storage tank replaced can help you avoid such a leak in the future.
The first sign that you should consider replacing your furnace's heating oil storage tank is if you notice any signs of physical rust on the exterior of the tank. This is more than an aesthetic issue: rust will eat away at the tank and eventually cause a leak if allowed to sit for long enough. Small patches of rust can be sanded off and painted over to prevent their spread, but widespread or highly developed patches of rust are more likely to have caused serious structural damage to your storage tank.
While a small amount of condensation on the exterior of your heating oil storage tank is normal immediately after the tank has been refilled, such condensation should not appear while your furnace is in operation. Keep an eye on the sides and the base of the tank: excessive staining, moisture buildup, and water damage to the surrounding area can point to some sort of issue with your furnace or tank and can greatly increase the risk of rust developing in the near future. Sometimes, the issue is as simple as cleaning out the interior of your storage tank to remove built-up debris and sludge, but other times it can point to an issue with the tank that will require a full replacement.
Also known as blistering, your heating oil storage tank can begin to develop a textured surface in which small bumps develop on the side of the tank. Such blisters are caused by rust that has begun to eat away at the interior of your storage tank, weakening certain sections of the tank and causing them to bulge out due to the pressure. These blisters represent an increased risk of a leak developing, and should be addressed immediately.
Contact an HVAC contractor for more info about furnace repairs.