How to Clean an Oil-Fired Hot Water Heater

Taking a hot shower is a luxury many people take for granted.
If your water heater stops working you'll notice shortly after you turned on the faucet. Oil-fired water heaters heat water in a tank by burning fuel oil instead of electricity or gas. Oil-fired water heaters also have an additional part, the oil burner, to heat the water. You should clean both the burner and the tank from time to time in order to keep working.

Step 1

Turn off the oil-fired water heater. Open the service hatch on the oil burner with the screwdriver. Clean off the electrode, the little metal rod near the burner, with sandpaper to remove any rust or other buildup.

Step 2

Lift the old oil filter from the filter housing above the oil tank. Place a new filter in its place. If the oil tank itself is dirty, dump the old oil into a bucket and pour ½ cup of clean oil into the tank. Wipe the tank down with a cloth and the clean oil. Pour out any leftover oil and fill the tank with clean oil.

Step 3

Brush out the oil burner's flue with a chimney brush.

Step 4

Connect a hose to the drain valve at the base of the hot water tank. Place the hose near a drain and open the valve to drain the tank of water. Scrub the inside of the tank with a brush through the hand hole, if present. Rinse the tank, then fill the tank with fresh water.

Things You Will Need

  • Bucket
  • Oil
  • Sandpaper
  • Hose
  • Screwdriver
  • Oil filter
  • Cloth
  • Chimney brush
  • Stiff-bristle brush

About the Author

Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer and contributing editor for many online publications. She has been writing professionally since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.