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post #1 of 15 Old 10-05-2019, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Heating oil.....

Gave an old but great condition Coleman 55k btu space heater to a young neighbor today. He will soon be getting about 50G of heating oil, too. He asked if there was a way to mix/cut used motor oil for use in this unit. I doubt it, but I do wonder about road or diesel fuel. Except for the color for tax purposes, is it not the same? By the way, I suspect this stove unit is a gravity fed system, but does have a controller on the lower left corner on the back. Looks like it may have a float in it.
So...can road fuel be used like the home heating fuel?
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post #2 of 15 Old 10-05-2019, 10:15 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

#2 heating oil is most similar to diesel fuel in composition, but there's not much sense in paying road tax to heat your house...

As far as mixing used motor oil in. Yeah... it depends on a few things, like what kind of shape the used oil is in. I've worked on some oil burners that were completely smurfed from dumping too much junk through 'em.

You can get away with it if you filter the used oil first (ie strainer) and if the burner has some kind of filter in the line. Up to 10~20% should be fine if it's fairly clean. If the heater's not combustion exhausted to outdoors it may smell bad though.

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post #3 of 15 Old 10-05-2019, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Heating oil.....

Thanks, KR. Myself....I have a used oil heater in the barn and can burn any liquid that's sorta flammable. But this is a different thing. I was thinking about the filtration, too. A lot of solids need to be removed to keep the innards in fair shape. Would something like a paint filter be fine enough do you think? As for the diesel fuel, he ay be able to get some old stuff from a neighbor, hence the question for that. But regular engine oil....would/should that be 'cut' with something? Kerosene? Heating oil? .....?
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-05-2019, 10:36 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

They'll fire on just about any non-volatile fuel, but problems arise with the introduction of contaminants, eventually the nozzle and electrodes will get fouled and you'll have poor combustion... result bad CO and possibly very unhealthy air.

If you stick to a low ratio of used oil to #2/diesel it'll be fine... previously stated caveat remains that if the oil came out of the engine in chunks, it's probably best not introduced to the burner (or tank). Cleanish 3~5?k mile motor oil shouldn't be an issue.

Does his 50 gal. tank have a filter at the output? If so that should be plenty.

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post #5 of 15 Old 10-05-2019, 11:21 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

I have used pump diesel in my oil furnace often,it is the same thing ,only the road fuel is taxed and cleaner..often if my tank is close to empty and I cant afford to get the 100-150 minimum gallons required for delivery,I have to add pump diesel to the tank until I can..the price us about 50 cents more per gallon at the pump vs the delivery truck price..

The oil filters that have a sock cartridge are usually 10 micron rating,and should trap any particles large enough to cause troubles with the pump & burner but might clog fast..

I have seen the exact same filter canister & sock used on some industrial Detroit Diesel engines on generators & heavy equipment..been tempted to put one on my diesel pickup,the sock filters cost 1/4 of the spin on oem one..like $5 vs $20+..
I have several off old furnaces..

I have seen video's on YouTube showing furnaces having used engine oil added to the tank after filtering it well ,one shows the guy adding acetone as a catalyst ,he claims that is what lets it ignite and burn without any problems with delayed ignition or smoking,with no modifications to the burner..sounds scary to me,but he shows it working fine..

I admit to having been tempted to try adding some used motor oil to a furnace oil tank when I had a forced hot air one in my garage,but never got brave enough..

Eventually I had to scrap it,as the "barrel" developed rot holes and I was risking being exposed to CO

More than one guy I know used to pour their drain oil into the heating oil tank every time they did an oil change, after filtering it thru a towel...as long as you have a 1/2 tank or more of heating oil,I guess that dilutes it enough not to have any issues..
I would expect some problems eventually though,the burners aren't designed for oil that thick..

There are oil burners by Beckett that can burn waste oil,they are designed a bit differently and probably have hotter spark coils to get the oil lit ..Grainger used to list them in their catalog.,and it appeared to be a unit that would bolt in place of the ones normally used with heating oil..

One guy I used to work for that did demolition of old buildings had several diesel powered box trucks and he often put anything that burned in the fuel tanks--some things like hydraulic fluid he got from a mill building made them run real quiet and more peppy--he tried olive oil from a closed up restaurant once and it was a bear to get the engine started,but it ran ok once it warmed up..he tried mineral spirits in another truck that had only 1/4 tank of diesel and it started easily and ran smooth,but it overheated on the highway ..put more diesel in and it went back to normal..nothing wrong with the cooling system I guess the spirits burned hotter ?..


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post #6 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 07:52 AM
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Re: Heating oil.....

I wouldn't put used motor oil in it! I've used diesel in one with no problems. they do have a filter mounted in the bottom of the fuel regulator. these units can be very good but you must pay close attention to them when lighting, you must make sure they stay lit after lighting until there is enough heat that you can see the flame starting to burn fumes under the lower plate and not just on the bottom of the barrel. the fuel is just a drip type and if the original flame goes out the fuel keeps flowing. if the unit is relit after that the extra fuel has puddled in the bottom it starts to burn [overfuel] rather quickly when the unit come to temp with no way to stop it. you don't want that to happen it creates a very dangerous situation and some very interesting noises! I had it happen once and **** sure i won't ever let that happen again! the roof stack looked like the wabash cannonball climbing a hill and the unit was vibrating like an unbalanced tire at 60 mph.
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post #7 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 04:37 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

One thing to note is synthetic oil often doesn't burn well even in waste oil heaters,it has a higher flash point ...

I have had some bad experiences with used oil & burning it--one night in my garage my wood stove didn't want to get going,and I'd used up all the kindling and papers--I tried pouring a little used oil down one of the air inlet pipes (stove is like a Tempwood,but made out of a 55 gallon drum)...

Almost instantly there was a "WHOOF" and fire flashed straight up out of the pipe,and it took all the skin off the back of my thumb ,forefinger,and some of the "web" in between on the back of my hand..it looked like melted wax..about 20 seconds later,the pain set in..I was in AGONY for days,and it took about 8 weeks for the hand & fingers to heal up..my right hand too,and I'm right handed..

The oil I poured in (and not a lot,maybe a few shot glasses full),may have been out of one of my small engines,maybe some gas was mixed in with it..all I know is I'm much more careful with lighter fluid or any other "liquid kindling" now!..

I run my truck on pump diesel--while its possible to use veggy oil or a number of other "alternative fuels",I'd rather not have endless issues with cold starts,injector pump failure ,clogging of all the fuel lines,etc...not worth the little bit you might have saved on pump diesel fuel..(even some of that is no prize either,I have gotten bad batches or "summer" fuel in December that caused much grief )..best to stay with what fuel it was designed for..


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post #8 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 04:47 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrcaptainbob View Post
t I do wonder about road or diesel fuel. Except for the color for tax purposes, is it not the same? ...
So...can road fuel be used like the home heating fuel?
The are the same thing except for the colorant which is added to prevent people from using it in their on-road vehicles to avoid paying road tax.

I have not had to buy diesel for my tractor for a couple of years because I caught a Craigslist deal where someone was converting their house to propane and GAVE AWAY a tank half full of home heating oil. Another time I paid $100 for a half tank.

Not a bad deal when you can find it!
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 05:28 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

Used engine oil was sometime "blended" in #6 heating oil in New York City before #6 was outlawed about 6 years ago...it really was not supposed to be done as it does produce a high ash content emission.....those burners typically had preheaters and the oil kept hot to make the oil flow through 11/4 inch to 2" suction lines...#2 fuel oil and #2 diesel fuel are the same thing except the color, and the product used for diesels has to have a minimum Cetane rating of 44...and presently, here in New York Metropolitan area the diesel fuel has to be ultra low sulfur....the sulfur content for product use for heat has also been lowered in recent years ( here in NY...it could be different in other areas)...engine oil will clog the 3/8 to 1/2 inch copper line that a tank of less than 1,500 gallon capacity would normally be equipped with...if it does make it through the lines it will clog the filter and the nozzle for a #2 oil burner....there are burners specifically for used motor oil...but they are not legal in many areas.....again because of the ash in the emissions
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 06:15 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

If diesel has got to be used at least use winter fuel. Doesn't make any difference if going into and engine or stove the stuff will still gel.
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post #11 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 07:18 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

Usually a fuel tank is in a basement or buried ( outdoor above ground heating oil tanks are not allowed in NYC) for heating oil so it is not really effected by cold temps....sometimes you see one outside and you can add "pour depressants" ...whether it is for fuel being used for heat or motor fuel....you can add kero also to heating oil to lower the pour point...it is really too dry to add to diesel fuel...the paraffin that caused the problems at particularly low temperatures also has lubricating qualities...it makes a difference in an engine...but not an oil burner
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post #12 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 07:53 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

Filter it well and you will have no problems, I know a lot of people that have done this with no problems. You can also use transmission fluid and that will help thin out the engine oil. If the tank is inside you can use veggie oil also.

As said above I would not mix it more that 80/20, 20% being the engine or whatever oil you add to the fuel oil. You can use straight diesel or kerosene also.

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post #13 of 15 Old 10-06-2019, 08:58 PM
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Re: Heating oil.....

Kind of surprised that you say that people mix it with no problems, unless they have modified the burner....my business includes cleaning fuel tanks and am very familiar with the problems that people who try to use motor fuel encounter...motor oil is high BTU, but needs an air compressor to atomize it (similar to burning#6 oil)....and a pre ignition system when used by itself, not thrown in a #2 oil tank....transmission fluid, although less viscous than motor oil is considerably thicker than #2 fuels and has a flash point of over 425* compared to 126* for #2...on a 275 gallon tank, which is the standard for a 1 family residence, the suction line comes out the bottom, and gets clogged pretty quickly when motor oil is introduced...in a larger tank the suction line comes in through the top and clears the bottom by a few inches, so it takes a while for the motor oil to accumulate at the bottom (it is heavier than #2 oil and goes to the bottom) and then the suction line gets clogged...it does not take very long and always occurs when it is really cold out...and usually on a weekend or Christmas Eve
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post #14 of 15 Old 10-07-2019, 12:40 AM
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Re: Heating oil.....

^^^This is why I emphasized limited quantities, and clean used oil should mix in well when refilling the tank with #2.

<------Former central Wisconsin steamfitter... but yeah you're right about those holiday/weekend calls. Usually the customer that's refused service for three or four years or someone new that'd been using one of the 'big name' heating companies. Boiler plugged up with soot, tank/filter full of sludge, roasted transformer or pump or a nozzle and electrodes worn to bits. System full of air, bad pressure tank, blown pressure relief valve, pump roached, "yeah it's been doing that for a while"... oi.

Usual modus operandi was to hit every customer every fall for a once-over, cleaning, and burner tune-up. Never many problems with those, and this was on rural mostly 30+ year-old systems... some much older.

FULLY agreed that too much bad fuel will give you big problems.

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post #15 of 15 Old 10-07-2019, 11:30 AM
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Re: Heating oil.....

ATF has some friction material in it,which can damage pumps ,for that reason I've passed on trying to use it in with diesel fuel in my pickup,though I know several guys who do,one owns a transmission shop and he brags "I rarely ever buy more than a few gallons at the pump"--just enough to dilute it enough so it'll start in the winter...

He filters it through a setup he made using an external oil filter relocation kit for a car engine,with two Ford oil filters,coupled to an old gear type oil pump...he also dumps in up to 20 gallons in his oil tank at home,when its over half full of heating oil...

My furnace should get a cleaning and tune up,its been at least 6 years since the last time,and I can notice the difference in how long it takes to get hot water (It heats the water,tankless heater coil inside the boiler,no other water heater in the house)...

I know the filter on the tank hasn't been changed in as long also--and the tank did run out twice during that time frame--I can replace the filter myself OK,but I am reluctant to try fooling with the burner myself,your supposed to be licensed and permitted to do any heating system repairs..

I probably could put in a new nozzle,etc,I have fooled with old burners in my garage furnace before--but I know nothing about cleaning out the tankless heater or fire box,---I'll leave the house furnace to a pro..

I am tempted to put a spin on type filter instead of the "sock" type that the tank has on it now..but the trade off is the filters are much more expensive,and not readily available,I can go to Lowe's up the street and buy the sock filter for $5..

I get fuel assistance,and they will come repair a non-working furnace,or even provide a free replacement if it's shot,but they will not do "tune ups" or cleaning..as long as it works and you have heat,that's as far as they will go..

A few years ago,the expansion tank diaphragm failed ,and it began leaking water,I called the place and they sent a tech out,who replaced the tank,several of the valves,the pressure/temp gauge,and a new air bleeder,all at no cost...as long as you live in the house for another year,you do not have to pay for the repairs..

I find it strange they will replace the whole furnace,but not do any preventative upkeep to avoid having to do a complete replacement..it's like a garage saying we'll replace your engine for free--but we wont do any oil changes..!..


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