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Old 12-21-2012, 03:37 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 278
Pumping oil up and out 5 feet

In ground # 2 oil fuel tank for house heating. Switching to all electric heat.

Need to pump out left over 6 inches of fuel oil out of underground tank to satisfy local regulations

Need to pump oil UP five feet and out.

Been quoted $400 to have it pumped out. Seems high. How can I do it myself? Rent some kind of oil pump? Do have a jet type water pump---tho doubt it can lift 5 feet. Most have lifted with it was 2 feet and that was lifting water.

Any suggestions appreciated, and thanks in advance
Old 12-21-2012, 04:06 PM
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Location: Milwaukee, WI
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Last edited by Joey P; 12-21-2012 at 04:08 PM.
Old 12-21-2012, 04:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 13,240
Why not a wet shop vac with a long hard hose attached? Even if you throw it away after, that's cheaper than $400.

As I understand it, this is heating oil, essentially diesel oil. It is not explosive. The risk should be minimal, but IANA chemical safety engineer.

The trick, I assume, is not getting it out but certifying to the local authorities it has in fact been thoroughly cleaned out. Really what you need to do is suck out all the oil, then dig out the tank to ensure there is no residual oil hat could leak in future?

Last edited by md2000; 12-21-2012 at 04:10 PM.
Old 12-21-2012, 04:12 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 2,826
When my grandmother died, we gave the oil to a neighbor, provided he did the pumping and removal. Is this an option?
Old 12-21-2012, 04:20 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Upstate, NY
Posts: 224
OP says his oil tank is in-ground so he can't drain the tank.

A hand pump such as this one could be used to pump the remaining fuel into gasoline containers or the like.
Old 12-21-2012, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 278
Lifting up 5 feet is the problem. Doubt if a shop vac could lift that high. Doubt my little jet pump could lift that high either.

Digging out the tank and removing it is an option. But according to my daughter, who got estimates, that would cost thousands of dollars.

To satisfy local requirements, without removing the tank

---can pump out all of the old #2 fuel oil, treat whats left with some type of chemical, then refill the empty tank with sand or gravel. (I assume that that part of it would prevent the empty tank from collapsing at some future date and being a public danger}

Am trying to do this at the least cost and still follow local regulations.
Old 12-21-2012, 05:00 PM
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Location: Auburn, WA
Posts: 6,041
Been there, done that. I used a drill powered pump just like this one. It will lift liquid 10 feet. I pumped what I had left in my tank into a neighbors tank so I had no disposal costs. Then I had a local sand a gravel company fill the tank with slurry per the local codes. That cost all of $75. the only think the code enforcement guy didn't like was the removal of the fill pipe, that meant any future inspections would mean a lot of digging.
Old 12-21-2012, 05:26 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 12,056
using a shop vac for flammable liquids is a hazard. any electric pump would need to be sealed for flammable liquid use. granted #2 oil is not very flammable.

a hand powered pump is good.
Old 12-21-2012, 05:36 PM
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 18,407
Can you pressurize the tank and either use the normal fuel line or another hose to have the fluid be pushed out? You won't even need (or really want) a totally tight seal (for safety) but if you can get 5psi in that tank you should get a apx 10 ft lift, and I believe those tanks are pressure tested to 5 psi.

Last edited by kanicbird; 12-21-2012 at 05:37 PM.
Old 12-21-2012, 05:46 PM
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 18,407
Another method that comes to mind is use a very long cloth, perhaps 20 feet or so, drop a end of it to the bottom of the tank (holding the other end), let it absorb the oil then pull it out, wring it out into a 5 gal bucket then repeat.

Messy, slow, potentially dangerous for the smoker and a fire hazard, but it should work, and as long as you don't somehow set anything on fire, also be cheap.
Old 12-21-2012, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 7,210
The drill driven pump or the pressure methos I like. I use the pressure often for transferring fuel from one truck to another. Takes only a few pounds pressure for a 5ft lift. Just drop in a hose and put plastic bags and hose clamps around the lid with an air hose going in.
Old 12-22-2012, 03:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 1,030
When I switched from oil to gas I found someone on Craigslist who not only pumped the oil but paid me for it as well. At the time, oil retailed for close to $4.00 per gal and I believe the guy paid me about 80 cents a gal. It was a good deal for both of us.
Old 12-22-2012, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,757
Yeah I really recommend on selling it to someone willing and able to pump it out. Then you can worry about filling it with sand and neutralizing the residue if you need to.
Old 12-22-2012, 09:13 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 16,451
I have a dumbass question. Since the tank is in ground you obviously did not gravity feed to the old furnace.
How did you get the fuel out for the old furnace? Probably a pump.
Use that.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 12,056
if the boiler was in the basement then the burner is near the floor height. a tank on legs on the basement floor (below ground) would gravity feed the burner. both outdoor above ground and in basement were very common locations. a buried tank would also be higher than the burner.
Old 12-22-2012, 12:30 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 278
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
I have a dumbass question. Since the tank is in ground you obviously did not gravity feed to the old furnace.
How did you get the fuel out for the old furnace? Probably a pump.
Use that.
Well it is a gun fired oil furnace. There is no residual oil in the furnace which is in the garage. Furnace pump lifts from a buried outdoor oil tank. Problem is getting the residual oil, about 6 inches worth, up and out from that tank.

You all have given me some good ideas though and I appreciate that. Any more ideas welcome.

Another thought---that bottom 6 inches of oil is probably a bunch of crap=sediment and water and oil and pretty useless for anything. How do I dispose of it?
Old 12-22-2012, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 278
It is a 45 year old furnace and tank so I am sure there is a lot of crap at the bottom of the tank.
Old 12-23-2012, 04:19 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: NYC
Posts: 588
Originally Posted by ombre12 View Post
In ground # 2 oil fuel tank for house heating. Switching to all electric heat.

Need to pump out left over 6 inches of fuel oil out of underground tank to satisfy local regulations

Need to pump oil UP five feet and out.
Ask whatever company used to deliver your heating oil if they'll do it. Depending on the price/gallon of oil and how much you have, they may pay you or at least you'll pay them less. 6" isn't a definite quantity of oil - 6" in a 1000 gallon long tank is a bit different from 6" in a 200 gallon tall.

BTW, I didn't know that abandon-in-place of drained tanks was still permissible. Depending on where you are, it can be anything from torching and sand filling to complete tank removal and installation of a monitoring well.

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