Heating Oil Issues For New Customers

Being new to heating oil and furnaces, you might have uncertainty about how these systems differ from electric heating systems. Consider these oil issues as you become accustomed to this way of heating.

Preventing Gelling

Wax platelets or particles are included with the oil that heats your home. Years ago, sulfur was added at higher levels to heating oil in part to avoid the "gelling" of this wax, which may happen at freezing temperatures. These days, because oil is cleaner than it used to be, there are lower levels of sulfur, and the wax can gel or solidify more often. If this happens, those gel solids can interfere with the oil filter, making heating more difficult. The gel can also line your pipes, making it harder for the oil to flow through them. This can mean repeated calls to your oil provider.

While there's no way for you to stop the gelling process once it's started, when it's cold, you can prevent it. Anti-gel additives can be added to the oil, for instance. You may also need to replace some of your oil lines with slightly larger pipes. When pipes are larger, there's a greater surface area and smaller chance that the oil inside will become cold enough to begin the gelling process. 

You should also ensure that you're using cash-on-delivery (COD) oil delivery whenever you're running low in the winter. That's because the less oil you've got, the more likely wax will gel. A fuller tank will mean solids take longer to form. If you have cash on hand and know there's about to be a cold snap, don't wait for scheduled COD oil delivery if you know the tank is almost empty.

Staying Alert About Possible Leaks

Often, the mere smell of leaking oil will get your attention and alert you to heating problems. That's why you've got to have certainty that you can identify that odor. Discussing it with your oil delivery technician may give you an opportunity to get a whiff of the oil's odor as they attach and detach the delivery nozzle.  

Visual cues will also notify you of leaking. If your oil tank is rusting in one spot, for instance, that indicates that some liquid has been in contact with the tank exterior. Constant dampness underneath the tank will show leaking too, even if it's not a huge puddle. Your water might also have a strange taste.

Your supply company will have more oil-related details for you to read and learn. Start with the above heating oil information, and discuss more with your delivery technician.