OT: Hand pump for oil tank, not kayak

Does anyone have experience with inexpensive rotary or lever-style hand pumps from Harbor Freight, Northern Tool or similar?

I have water in my kerosene-filled outdoor oil tank that is getting into my vented heater and shutting it down. Due to settling, the tank seems no longer to be tilted downhill toward the drain so I cannot just bleed the water out. Plan B is to try to drop a hose to the bottom and pump the water out from above.

Does anyone have experience with the above kind of pumps? Pros and cons? Can anyone recommend a decent one or models to avoid? Thanks (or I will have a long cold winter).

Two alternatives

– Last Updated: Dec-08-08 10:12 PM EST –

If it were me, I wouldn't spend money on a pump I've never needed before and probably won't need again. Besides, you are probably wanting to remove at most a gallon or two of contaminated fuel, and those hand-crank pumps are designed to move a lot of liquid in a hurry, and thus are a lot more expensive than what you need. I have two ideas:

How about buying a really cheap, squeeze-bulb siphon or compact piston pump (available in auto-parts stores for changing oil in drive axles, etc.), or even siphoning the old-fashioned way with just a flexible hose? With any of these methods, I'd suggest splicing the suction hose to a length of pipe or conduit that is as long as the tank is deep so you will "know" you are siphoning from the very lowest part of the tank (hoses never cooperate when trying to suck liquid from the very bottom - they always curl back up toward the surface). I bet you could spend as little as three bucks for the parts to make a one-time siphon apparatus that will work just fine.

I wonder if alcohol-based fuel additives work in kerosene? They sure do the trick with gasoline, allowing the water to mix thoroughly with the fuel and not cause problems in gas-burning engines. Same might be true for a kerosene heater. The darned things will burn nearly anything, including diesel fuel and home heating oil, so I doubt that a "gas-line freeze preventer" would hurt anything. I'd be tempted to try that anyway, since you probably can't remove every speck of water by siphoning or pumping.

One other thought:

– Last Updated: Dec-08-08 10:24 PM EST –

Is the exhaust for that heater a force-feed through the wall? If so, the smallest of obstructions in the exhaust pipe can cause the heater to shut off. Here's what happens: The exhaust fan turns on prior to ignition, and air flow through the flue is free enough that the exhaust pressure sensor thinks everything is fine, and so ignition is triggered. Once the burner lights, there's a lot more flow, so the small obstruction in the flue creates enough back-pressure to trigger the safety shut-off.

If your heater is vented vertically with no fan assist, I don't think this would be an issue, but it sure can happen with through-the-wall fan-assisted venting. Something as small as a wasp nest no bigger than a golf ball, or a tiny dead bird (happened to me) can cause such a problem.

Is it possible to raise up the tank …
… with a jack and block it there for a couple days so you “could” drain off the water from the valve ??

One more thought
why not drop that hose or tube in from the top and then just syphon it out?

You can buy inexpensive flexible plastic tubing at lowes in various diameters by the foot.

It doesn’t answer your question, but it has worked for me on severl different occassions.

Just make sure you have the outside end lower than the inside one, and once you get the fluid going it work until the inner end sucks air.



Water in kerosene
You might check at a marine supply store such as WEST Marine. They have narrow fabric strips (my memory says something like “Absorb strips”). Placed in a gasoline tank, they sponge up the water. The strips are tied to a string, then dropped into the tank.

If you really want or need …
… a small pump , just get a simple little one that attaches to your electric drill … found almost everywhere . That is if raisng it on one side with a jack and blocks won’t work for you .

Check with your fuel supplier - they may be able to supply a water-specific sorbent pad or boom that can be attached to a stick and used to get the water out.


I knew I could count on pnetters to have some helpful thoughts.

The Northern Freight pumps are only about $25 but I like your ideas of making my own for one time use with some conduit and flexible hose.

These are force-vented, through the wall heaters (Monitors), one in the basement and one upstairs. I’m sure its a water problem and not a vent obstruction because they both go off intermittently until I bleed water out of the internal filters. I got them working a couple of weeks ago but the problem came back worse last week after getting a kerosene delivery that must have stirred all the water off the bottom. I pulled close to a half-cup of water out of the upstairs line before seeing any kerosene.

I’ll have to check the tanks with a level to see how they’re angled. I’ve read about those absorber things but I would be afraid to drop one in the tank for fear that it would swell too much to get it back out through a 2" opening.

how is the water getting in? Condensation? Also they do make additives for kerosene to take out the moisture. They use it in jet fuel. Having your heater go out is no big deal compared to having your engine flame out at 30,000 feet. Also some of the diesel additives may be usable in kerosene too.