Eight displaced when oil tank getting filled ruptures in Mattapan

Burst oil tank

The tank. Photo by BFD.

The Boston Fire Department reports an oil tank being refilled in a two-story home at 16 Tennis Rd burst this afternoon, sending roughly 170 gallons of the viscous liquid onto the floor.

The eight people who lived there are now staying with family friends as a cleanup company, under the supervision of a BFD hazmat specialist, the department reports. There were no injuries.

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I was a guest in a house

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I was a guest in a house where the fill pipe had a small leak (they were in the process of getting it fixed). The tank was in a separate room in the basement and it was separated by a fireproof metal door (hey, German safety rules?). The basement still had a faint smell of diesel. The room itself, it stunk like hell. Like instead headache stink.

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Voting is closed. 23

I sprung a leak last year....

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Filled mine last October and it started dripping around the line to the burner. We were able to catch it with a pan but it sure did stink. Was looking at 2 grand to replace the tank but then I still would have had the 30 year old furnace. Decided it was time to convert to gas. It's nice to never have to run downstairs to see how much oil is left in the tank....

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Voting is closed. 30

If you've converted to gas...

If you've converted to gas, make damn sure the oil-fill port is removed or permanently sealed. I think that's required by nanny-state law now, but it used to be a regular event where an oil-truck driver got the wrong address and made a good effort to fill somebody's basement.

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Voting is closed. 18

You're right.

But it's not really nanny-state. It's just that people don't do what should be done. I have a friend that has a new (relatively) gas install. They vent through PVC pipe. It's high enough to satisfy the original code, but the code was changed (I believe) and it's buried under a drift. He told me he had to dig it out. I told him, "Just pipe it higher" and was told it would make the place look ugly. House was built in 1867. I told him Krylon makes plastic sticky paint that can match it.
The old theory was that the vented gas will melt any snow. It's mostly right.

Mostly. This is why only once or twice a year we learn about cherry red dead people.

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Voting is closed. 18

It was sarcasm

I bet if you went back to when that law was passed, you'd find companies that were doing gas conversions complaining about it. And I further bet that their complaints could be easily translated to "nanny state," even if they didn't use those words.

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Efficient boilers extract so

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Efficient boilers extract so much heat from the exhaust that it's very unlikely to melt snow. That's why the exhaust is vented out the side of the house via a PVC pipe -- it's not hot enough to get itself up a chimney.

Even if it could, a massive pile of snow would block the pipe long before the exhaust could melt itself through.

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Was the tank air vent blocked?

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That might cause pressure to build up in the tank for a rupture.

Folks, clear both your fill and vent from snow.

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Blocked Or Frozen Oil Tank Vent?

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Residential oil tanks are usually filled under pressure. The oil filler nozzle is actually linked to the top of the inlet pipe and the truck pumps into the tank at pressure - most-likely to speed the delivery process.

This fill-pressure can be considerable and can cause leakage or even catastrophic tank failure and leaks into a building if the tank piping is improper or if the tank is damaged.

IMAGE(http://www.robsonforensic.com/upload/articles/Fuel-Oil-Tank-Expert-Witness.jpg)
It's easy to imagine the tank vent pipe becoming somehow frozen or blocked, causing the tank to become over-pressurized while it was being filled.

So, if you have an oil-fueled furnace, be aware of the oil tank vent pipe outside your home. Make sure it doesn't get blocked or frozen amidst some adjacent icicle.

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Voting is closed. 47

The tank was inside, so I doubt it.

From the pic, it looks like the tank is inside, so probably not. If the temps were low enough inside to affect the steel, you'd see lots of other problems, like burst pipes.

Thanks, Elmer, didn't realize that could happen. We have gas, so not an issue for us, but a good thing to know.

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Voting is closed. 27

You're overthinking it

It's simple. The piping is mild steel, will take a bunch of pressure. The tank is mild steel, the design is very basic, it's made to hold oil unpressurized. The vent is designed to relieve any air in the tank displaced by the oil. The pressure generated by the pump in the truck is really just to move the oil.
It's not a common failure. Either the pressure relief pipe was blocked (as noted here already) in which case the truck pressure relief valve should have kicked in, or the tank was screwed anyway.

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Voting is closed. 23

Girlfriend

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a girlfriend of mine in NH has been dealing with this for the past two weeks. Her tank is OUTSIDE. And the oil congealed inside. I guess there's an additive you can add to the tank so the oil doesn't congeal up.

Once the tank froze, the boiler stopped working. And the temps plummeted in her house. Then her forced hot water heating system froze, so even when they get the tank and line unfrozen, and the boiler working again, she only had heat upstairs.

Then a pipe burst. I feel so bad for her. Needless to say, she's looking at new propane heating systems this spring.

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Voting is closed. 37

Propane is expensive to run.

Really.

Couple of points...I personally dealt with an outside oil tank in the winter. The trick is to use kerosene rather than home heating oil. It doesn't congeal in this weather. It's more expensive, but it's freely available in cold places where tanks are exposed. I never used an additive, never really thought (or knew) about it.

Propane is good, but pricey to run. If she can locate a tank indoors, that would be a good option for #2 oil. If it has to be outdoors, then kerosene could be an option worth looking into. Good luck.

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Careful with propane, it has

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Careful with propane, it has its own winter problems. What they sell is not "propane" but "LP gas": It's a mixture of the chemicals propane and butane. The
LP companies vary the ratio of propane:butane throughout the year. Why? Because in the winter, butane does not evaporate; it's boiling point is 30-34 °F. So if you get a summer delivery that you still have in the winter, expect the stuff to sit there at the bottom of the tank, creating no pressure, and thus not flowing. People will do things like wrap heating blankets or RV water heaters around them. (And there's no such thing as indoor LP tanks; they have to be outdoors.)

You learn all sorts of interesting things in the winter around here. Diesel like home heating oil will also turn to butter when it gets cold enough. Tin disintegrates. Some antifreezes and windshield washer fluids will also freeze.

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Antifreeze

100% antifreeze freezes at 0 degrees C. When diluted with water, it freezes at -50C. In other words, straight antifreeze is no protection against freezing. The easiest method is to mix 50/50 with water.

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SO much good info in this thread

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Even though I'm on gas, I learned a lot from all the comments!

(I always wondered what that other pipe outside next to the oil fill was.)

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Agreed!

Same here - and I'm still on oil heat, so definitely food for thought.

This definitely makes me SUPER grateful that we replaced our oil tank in the summer of 2015! I don't think the old tank was necessarily original to the house (built ca. 1912), but it was certainly the original oil tank, in place well before my folks bought the house in 1958.

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