Fuel Quality + or –

Over the years, I think many of us have hoped to find the perfect fuel that would keep our customers warm and reduce service calls during the harshest of winters. I know that many of you who have been in the fuel oil business for some time will remember the days when we relied on blending our own fuel in order to keep the fuel flowing during the subzero days. The norm was to either use straight kero or blend 60% No. 2 with 40% kerosene and, for the most part, it worked well.  Today, many of the majors are offering fuel that has an additive already injected at the terminal and it too works well. The real problem is that many of the existing oil tanks that have been in place for 40+ years are contaminated with rust, water and organisms.


Believe it or not, the real culprit is water and I have learned this from many tests that have been conducted by several of my reliable sources over the years. I’m also told that there is a small percentage of water in every gallon.


As the cold weather arrives, I’ve often been asked by service managers and owners about the best additive to use to prevent freeze-up, and my answer is ‘anything that will disperse water and improve the viscosity.” However, if sludge is your issue, this will require a totally different additive and no matter what you select as the answer to your problem, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Otherwise, if you don’t, you could end up releasing the tank bottom sludge too fast and end up making a lot of free service recalls. The cause will be plugged nozzles, filters and pump strainers from the non-gradual release of the sludge contamination.



I have heard the pros and cons from several oil dealers throughout the East Coast about the ‘new” blended bio fuel oil that has entered the market in recent years. The blends have, in some cases, caused confusion among the oil dealers.


B2 which is 2% biodiesel to [in the future] B20 which is 20% biodiesel are replacing the common No. 2 fuel that we have been using for many years. When asked about price’is it higher than No.2 fuels’the answer can be yes, but the claim is that the heating equipment will burn less fuel, have fewer service calls due to Bioheat® being a cleaner burning fuel. My only real question is will we give it a plus or minus when Bioheat [especially at higher concentrations] is exposed to sever cold weather?


Charlie Bursey began his long career in the oil heating industry in 1963. He has delivered coal, kerosene and oil and serviced heating and cooling equipment. He has also managed service departments, worked for a manufacturer and currently works with F.W. Webb, Warwick, R.I. He is a recipient of the Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals’ prestigious Hugh McKee Award for making an outstanding contribution to the fuel oil industry; having had an understanding and cooperation with his/her fellowman; and having unselfishly aided the industry in education and related activities.


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