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Steve Foss

Cutting up and scrapping furnace oil tank: Explosion worries?

13 posts in this topic

I've got a 250 gallon fuel oil tank in my basement that's no longer used (I converted to propane).

I want to haul it out of there, but the stairway/door is too small to take it out intact (it was brought in decades ago through an outside stairway that's been covered by an addition foundation), not to mention it's a heavy humper. I'm thinking about drilling a hole at the lowest point in the tank and letting whatever small amount of diesel oil/sludge is left drain out into a bucket, and then cutting the tank into pieces with a recip saw.

For those of you who have done this before, here's my question: Do I need to worry about a spark from the drill bit or saw blade causing an ignition/explosion of whatever vapor is in the tank?

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My experiance w/ diesel (fuel oil) is that it is hard to just light. I use it to start brush pile fires and the best way to start it is with a small amount of gasoline mixed with about 4 times the diesel. I would not wory about an explosion but check a MSDS sheet on diesel and see what it's vapor pressure is. VP is what causes fumes and then proceed at YOUR OWN RISK and carefully. BTW...Keep a couple of fire extinguishers handy.

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Be careful! If I remember right, a few years ago, someone caused an explosion messing with a fuel oil tank. I think they were trying to do something similar.

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I have pumped and cut dozens of OIL TANKS... not gas tanks. Booth in side and out

of the home.

Use a SAWALL with metal cutting blade. Fuel Oil is considered a hazardous material

So who you tell about what you are doing is up to you.

What BJB said about a fire extinguisher is right on. I always do.

Put the tank on end, lat it set for a couple of min. That way any oil left in the tank

will be at one end and cut tank in 1/2. takes about 7 min.

It's a REAL DURITY JOB so be papered for it. Tarps, rages, oil dry.

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IMO you should be ok with a sawzal. Keep the blade as cool as you can. There is a narrow margen between the LEL and UEL. This give you a better chance that it will be to rich to explode. BE CARFUL.

Kerosene CAS 8008-20-6

RTECS OA5500000

Synonyms & Trade Names

Fuel Oil No. 1, Range oil [Note: A refined petroleum solvent (predominantly C9-C16), which typically is 25% normal paraffins, 11% branched paraffins, 30% monocycloparaffins, 12% dicycloparaffins, 1% tricycloparaffins, 16% mononuclear aromatics & 5% dinuclear aromatics.] DOT ID & Guide

1223 128

Exposure

Limits NIOSH REL: TWA 100 mg/m3

OSHA PEL: none

IDLH N.D. See: IDLH INDEX Conversion

Physical Description

Colorless to yellowish, oily liquid with a strong, characteristic odor.

MW: 170 (approx)

BP: 347-617°F

FRZ: -50°F

Sol: Insoluble

VP(100°F): 5 mmHg

IP: ?

Sp.Gr: 0.81

Fl.P: 100-162°F

UEL: 5%

LEL: 0.7%

Class II Combustible Liquid: Fl.P. at or above 100°F and below 140°F.

Incompatibilities & Reactivities

Strong oxidizers

Measurement Methods

NIOSH 1550

See: NMAM or OSHA Methods

Personal Protection & Sanitation (See protection codes)

Skin: Prevent skin contact

Eyes: Prevent eye contact

Wash skin: When contaminated

Remove: When wet or contaminated

Change: No recommendation

Provide: Quick drench

First Aid (See procedures)

Eye: Irrigate immediately

Skin: Soap flush immediately

Breathing: Respiratory support

Swallow: Medical attention immediately

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Thanks guys. If I go forward with it, I'll be sure to have a bucket of icewater nearby to dip the reciprocating (sawsall) blade into frequently.

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Keep the speed down. That'll create less heat and the blade will last longer. In the countless times cutting steel with a reciprocating saw, I've never seen a spark when using a blade intended for that purpose. I have seen sparks when using a wood cutting blade and hitting a nail. I wouldn't be concerned about it starting fire.

I'd be more concerned about it blowing up. In nature fuel oil isn't too volatile. Its once its compressed or heated it then becomes more apt to flash. Fumes are a different matter, I know that because if there a way to make something blow up its happened to me. So far its just facial hair and bumps on the head. An oil tank might just go like a good fart or it could make a sonic boom. At any rate knowing that your project will be exciting and not just a PITA that has to be done.

To be on the safe side you could have an assistant(Chunky)give you a continuous spray of water with a spray bottle. That'll at least keep the blade cool which in turn will stay sharp not to mention suppress any spark that could happen. Just don't electrocute yourself. smile

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OK

This is for the most part, the safest way to cut a tank. DRAIN TANK.

Remove the fill and vent pipe from the dank. Make sure you only have two holes

in the tank. Run a hose/pipe from a internal combustion motor (you pick) too

the hole at one end of the tank. Then take a second hose/pipe from the other

hole at the other end of the tank back too the out doors.

You have now filled the tank with CO. (No oxygen no boom) Now cut tank.

This opens up a couple of other safety concerns with CO in your home but

hay no boom right.

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I like your idea up in tell the CO part. Venting the tank is a great idea. Using two hoses both going out side and hooking one up to an air compressor would be better. This would work till you make a cut and it starts to vent in to the basement. I would make sure the basement is well vented also. Using positive or negative ventilation, set up a fan (blowing in or out) and have window(s) open on the opposite side would work well.

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The CO thing is a old welding trick. It's the only way you can do it cheep.

Using a air-compressor will defeat the purpose of the CO.

No oxygen do BOOM.

Remember the tetrahedron FFII

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Using a air-compressor will defeat the purpose of the CO.

No oxygen do BOOM.

Remember the tetrahedron FFII

No fumes no boom. If it’s below the LEL (lower explosive limit) it will not ignite. Remember Hazmat operations. And CO is poisons.

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OK,ILL give you that one. (except)

After doing 6-8 tanks a year over the last 30 years. You can't get all the oil out

of a tank... (unless you burn it) GRIN I just don't think you could dilute it enough.

In this case I think the CO is much safer, other then the CO is a hazard all by it self.

With a reasonable amount of venting out a window the risk would be quite small.

If I were doing it for a living and got to charge a lot of money to do it,

I would use Nitrogen. But to flow a 270gal. tank would cost at lest 100 bucks

just for the no2 not to mention the bottles.

I hated hazmat class.

It's unfortunate the in todays time we put education before experience

in the fire service. We lose a lot of good people that way.

ILL get off my box now.

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