Oil Leaks from Boilers

Oil leaks from boilers, these occur regularly and form a large proportion of total domestic oil spill cases. Domestic oil spills can only arise from a limited range of sources such as the tank, fuel pipe and boiler. Oil leaks in Northern Ireland

• Basic Boiler Anatomy
• Where do leaks occur on boilers?
• Does it matter where a boiler is located?
• What can I do to minimise risk?
• What should I do if I have an Oil leak at my boiler?

Oil leak from a boiler

Basic Boiler Anatomy

A boiler is a combination of two systems. The first is the “oil part”. Oil from your storage tank is taken to the boiler via the oil feed pipe or oil line. Ordinarily, this movement is powered by gravity. The second being the water “part”. The two don’t actually meet, the closest being at the combustion chamber where oil is injected and undergoes combustion. In this chamber are water pipes that absorb the heat of combustion and then transfer this energy around your home via pipes and radiators before returning back to be reheated.

Where do Oil leaks occur on boilers?

Oil leaks tend to occur in a small number of places at a boiler: Boiler leaks in Northern Ireland

• Joints
• Flexi-hose
• Filter
• Air intake ram


Oil Leaks from Boilers at Joints

A major cause of oil leaks at boilers

The joints used in the oil part of a boiler system are remarkably flimsy and are nowhere near as robust as the joints used in the water part. They consist of a pre-made joint, flexible copper pipe and a fairly soft copper olive in the centre. These joints don’t tolerate much in the way of mechanical abuse, sometimes even a little knock is enough to cause an oil leak. Oil leak from boiler in Northern Ireland


Oil Leaks from Boilers at Flexi-hose

Flexi-hose boiler oil leak

This is a rubber hose with a raided metal outer sheath with clamp on fittings on either end. The general concenusus is that these need to be replaced at least every second year, personally considering how often we see these leaking we would recommend a yearly replacement. They are a very cheap part so there is no cost impediment in doing this and ending up with an oil leak at your boiler. Oil leak from flexible hose in northern ireland

Oil Leaks from Boilers at Filter

The filter is a basic device to help remove both moisture and debris from your heating oil before it gets to your boiler and causes internal damage. Sometimes these are located at the tank itself, other times they are next to the boiler. These can leak at the inlet or outlet joints, at the seems or can rupture as a result of frost damage when captured water expands. Oil leaks from oil filters in northern ireland

Oil Leaks from Boilers at Air-intake ram

This source of oil leaks is a little more rare, but we have seen plenty of them. Normally due to a fault in the device itself an air intake can cease open, allowing oil to be released even when the boiler isn’t actively burning. If oil is being released but not burnt it eventually ends up being spilled.

Does it matter where a boiler is located when it comes to a boiler oil leak?

Does it matter where a boiler is located? Not in terms of whether or not you have an oil leak from your boiler. But it does have a massive influence on the level of impact and the severity of what that impact means. For instance, if you have a small leak from you boiler which is located at least ten meters from your home then you might have some impact to the soils around your boiler. If your boiler is located next to the rear of your home and you have a small leak then you might well have some damage to the fill materials around your foundations, possibly even some oil has migrated below your home. But if your boiler is inside your home impact will have been sustained to the fabric of your home and almost certainly you will need some internal excavations.

What can I do to the minimise risk of an oil leak from my Boiler?

What can you do to minimise the risk of oil leaks from your boiler? Well, regular maintenance checks by a suitably qualified and experienced boiler service engineer. Although, this can only tell you that everything was fine on a certain day. It is worthwhile regularly checking your own boiler, we mean a basic visual check and if you see anything that doesn’t quite seem right, follow it up with an engineer.

  • Keep your boiler house tidy and free of debris.
  • Make sure it is moisture free.
  • Make sure your boiler fittings and flexi-hose are not at angles that place them under increased pressure.

What should I do if I have an oil leak at my boiler?

What should you do if you find an oil leak at your boiler? If you notice any change in smell or find oil residues on the floor of you boiler house shut off the oil supply at the tank immediately. The shut off valve will either be a quarter-turn lever or a wheel valve and will be at the fittings end of your tank. Turn this off fully and call for help.


Oil shut off valve, oil leak at a boiler

If you have had an oil leak at your boiler and there is liquid oil around use either cat litter or peat / compost to soak this up. Spent materials should be placed into bags and disposed of according to local regulations. Whatever you do DO NOT USE SOAP / SURFACTANTS / DETERGENTS or water to wash any oil away!

Feel free to call Gaea for a free consultation on 08000 541 361 or check out our website www.gaea-environmental.com for further information and how-to-guides involving oil spills, oil leaks from boilers, oil leaks from tanks and what to do in the event of an oil spill.