Electric Water Heater next to Fuel Oil Tank

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by steph.sa, May 2, 2019.

  1. steph.sa

    steph.sa New Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hi,
    We have an electric water heater next to an old fuel oil tank that is no longer in use. We had a plumber come out to replace the hot water heater and he told us that we would have to move the hot water heater away from the fuel oil tank because it's a hazard; he said the oil breaks down and creates fumes that are combustible.

    My husband is a firefighter, he knew right away the plumber is misinformed. We called out our local fire chief who also said its not a hazard, but should have the oil removed because it will eventually leak, he said the worst part about that is the smell and that there's no imminent hazard sitting next to the water heater.
    We cant move the fuel oil tank, it is too large & heavy to make it up the stairs, I cant get a company out to unhook it until 3 weeks out. It would have to be cut up into pieces at a later date. Time is an issue. Its over $1200 to have a company come out to remove the tank.

    Can I get some thoughts on this? The water heater is only a few years old, covered under manufacturer warranty and will be replaced by the exact same make and model. I haven't told the plumber about what the chief said yet, not sure how to approach that without offending him. Thank you in advance!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. phog

    phog Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2017
    Location:
    Rochester NY
    Why go with this plumber? Aside from being incorrect about combustible fumes coming from old fuel oil (that stuff is HARD to ignite), your water heater isn't a gas appliance, and therefore has no flame ignition source on it. So I have no idea what his possible concern is. It sounds like he just wants to move the plumbing so he can charge you extra for the job.
     
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  4. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    In America everything is considered toxic.

    For example in 1983 I received a call that a 2" oil line was leaking underground and could I replace it

    I sent three guys there to dig out the old piping and install new piping wrapped to protect it from corrosion .

    A month later I was told I was being sued for $350,000 or I can just remove the contaminated soil .

    I said what the hell are you talking about we dug a trench removed old piping ,installed new piping and back filled with the existing soil

    Then that is when I was told "last one to work on it is responsible for the clean up"

    I called my insurance company and I was told I was not covered for toxic materials such as oil spills or asbestos etc

    I called a company to give me a price to make things right (Hazard eliminators INC) they told me the sil above and below the old piping has to be removed and dumped in a hazard waste in VA and it cost roughly .80 cents a pound and L x W x H was over $250,000

    As luck would have it oil delivery truck had a defective connection and spilled oil by the new fill line we installed and "they were the last ones to touch it" so I was off the hook and never serviced oil burners again or ran oil lines

    I would strongly suggest you get a licensed and insured company to empty the tanks and get it out to lessen the liability involved if a tank should leak

    By the way when I was in the navy as a teenager we had an oil fire, lucky I attended fire fighting school even though it was #6 (bunker C) as it had to be preheated before it was going to the burners and #2 does have a much lower flash point

    The fumes are highly toxic and like gasoline the fumes are much more dangerous than the liquid

    I wouldn't consider an electric heater next to the tanks a fire hazard as there is no opening flame
     
  5. James Hughes

    James Hughes New Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Location:
    CA
  6. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    So maybe move the water heater?
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    The thinking is that the plumber did not want to do the work for just the warranty reimbursement that Rheem would give him, so wanted to move the WH for a fee.
     
  8. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Yeah I mean I understand what's going on, but I guessed after a couple years the labor isn't covered anyway, and it's probably less than 1200 bucks to move the water heater. If the replacement is covered but the plumber doesn't want to do it, he could call the warranty provider and complain until they send somebody else.
     
  9. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Location:
    01609
    It's worth paying the money to make the oil tank go away, and be sure seal up or remove the outdoor filler port.

    With condensation every oil tank will leak eventually.

    Every few years someone in my area finds out the hard way that oil delivery trucks don't always get the right address, putting the neighbor's oil delivery into the basement of a house that no longer uses oil.
     
  10. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Depending on the budget and circumstances I believe you can have the oil tank decommissioned in place right? But either way I wouldn't want to wait weeks with no hot water. I'm not sure I'd want an old tank full of sand my basement, but many people do this. I very much agree with removing the filler port. You can also fill it up with cement.
     
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