fuel oil spill in basement

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Cousin was just here, reeking of fuel oil. Fuel oil tank in his basement tipped over. Spilled 200 gal on the basement floor. Has the mess cleaned up, but OH! - the smell. Any suggestions? Any product to buy? or any home remedy?

-- homestead2 (homestead@monroecty.net), January 19, 2000

Answers I dealt with a lot of these in the Navy. Hate to say it, but all you can do is ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Keep the basement warm (keeping an eye out for fire safety!) and it will help the oil to off-gas faster. Washing it down again in 24 hours will help, but this reaches diminishing returns after 2 or 3 times. Tom

-- Tom Austin (AustinTF3@aol.com), January 19, 2000.


gotta go with Tom on this one. Ventilation is all you can do. If your cousin lives somewhere that has a small fire department, it is possible that a couple of firefighters could come over with a ventilation fan. They'll know how to set it up to maximize air flow through the area (if possible, usually firefighters make holes as needed). You might be able to get them to come over after work for the rest of the week and then this weekend. If they do come, and even if they don't, please always support your local fire department-they need money. Otherwise a commerical cleaning service or a rental place would have fans. Cost more though.

I know what it is like to have relatively few gallons overflow, I'm getting a headache just thinking about what the residue from 200 gallons must be doing to the house. If possible, get anybody who can't speak for themselves out of the house until the worst is over. Infants, small children, certain adults and pets can't tell you that they are suffering from headaches, breathing problems, and the cold from having the house open. If that isn't possible, keep a close watch on those folks. Look for any unusual behaviour, breathing difficulties, lowered body temps, etc. If found get them elsewhere NOW.

I've got this vision in my head. Have you ever seen the circus performer who keeps all the plates spinning on the tops of wires? I'm "seeing" your cousin install dozens of TP holders in the basement, fitting them with those scented TP roll things, and then frantically running back and forth keeping them all spinning.

Keep putting down cat litter or some sort of oil clean up granules. Keep after the cleaning as best you can. Above all, get the air moving.

Gerbil PS Just how did that fuel tank tip over, anyway? I've got 2 350s and am wondering if I should make some sort of proactive repair.

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), January 19, 2000.


To answer the question of how it tipped over. He said, two of the legs had rusted and weakened and he had some things leaning on the tank that added to the weight. The legs buckled and down it went. He didn't see it happen. Woke up to the house reeking of fuel oil and discovered the mess. Thanks for the suggestions. I will get the word right to him. They are distraught, to say the least.

-- homestead2 (homestead@monroecty.net), January 19, 2000.


hardware store has something called oil magic, liqued bacteria that eats oil, oil stains, might work for you

-- stan (sopal@net-port.com), January 19, 2000.


Dry cement powder soaks up oil quite well from near the surface. Spread it on the DRY floor, leave it a day, sweep up and repeat as long as it's helping. Use the sweepings to make rough concrete - a path, driveway, whatever. Like the people said, VENTILATE and watch out for health damage from the fumes.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), January 20, 2000.


I use Kitty litter on oil spills in the shop, I buy the cheapest but maybe the scented kind would help. Also several years ago this same thing happend to a fiend of mine, he had about 300 gallon down there, we had to bail out his basement and then used everything we could to soak it up, news paper, rags, sand and so forth. He got a little tiny bottle of stuff called Odor-Away and used that, it smelled like urinal blocks but it was better than the fuel smell, we used a fan too. Good luck.

-- Mudlover (redgate@echoweb.net), January 20, 2000.


I have had an oilspill in my basement. The tank w"whisle" was malfunctioning and it overflowed. I was pregnant at the time and had to leave the house. The firedept were called they ventilated and the oil company used kitty litter and some magic liquid that made 98% of the smell leave. Try calling the oil company for this wonderful stuff.This stuff smelt like cedar(?) Good luck!

-- faith (foureverfaith@hotmail.com), January 21, 2000.


My wife and I once stayed in a hotel in Ilave, Peru, where the management had just painted all the floors in the place (wood floors) with kerosene, to keep the bugs at bay. Personally, I'd rather have the bugs. It reeked! We moved the bed over by the windows to avoid the worst of the fumes. If the weather had been better, we'd have slept outside. Any other town, we'd have either stayed in another hotel (there weren't any), or made arrangements to rent a room from someone. But the people in this town were very strange. They all looked at us like we were from Mars or somewhere. I think we might have been the only foreigners they'd ever seen, or something. Maybe they weren't strange. Maybe we were. Quien sabe?

Homestead 2, if all else fails, maybe you could try liquid dish soap?

-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@echoweb.net), January 25, 2000.

-- ducky (duxinarow@yahoo.com), July 13, 2001

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