How Often Does Furnace Oil Need to Be Refilled? | IT Landes
  • Calla Zawoysky
  • Heating

If you use heating oil in your home, having a reliable way to monitor your oil tank is essential. Knowing when to schedule a refill can mean the difference between maintaining a safe, habitable home and not. Timely refills can also prevent significant tank and heating system damage. Read on to find out how often your furnace oil needs to be replaced in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

How to Calculate Your Heating Oil Needs

Most homes that rely on heating oil have either above-ground or underground tanks with a 275-gallon capacity. However, this doesn’t mean that your home’s tank can actually hold 275 gallons of heating oil. Fuel oil delivery companies never fill these containers to the brim. More often than not, a fill-up will leave you with 240 gallons of heating oil or less. For safety purposes, the remainder of the tank space is reserved for air.

The typical household uses approximately two to three gallons of heating oil on a moderately cold day. When temperatures dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, they’ll use a bit more. On consistently cold days with temperatures that fall as low as 29 degrees Fahrenheit, your household might use 3.5 gallons of heating oil or more. Changes in temperature like these can mean the difference between having a full tank of heating oil last for more than four months and having your heating oil run out within just two months.

The efficiency of your heating equipment is also important. For instance, you might notice that your heating oil doesn’t last quite as long as it did several years ago, even though your household heating needs remain the same. This is an indication that your heater is burning more fuel to produce the same amount of heat. Changes like these make it virtually impossible to calculate your future heating oil needs with absolute certainty.

Larger homes require more heating oil than smaller homes do. The tightness of your home’s envelope affects your heating oil use as well. If your windows aren’t insulated or if your weatherstripping or insulation needs replacement, your heating oil use will increase.

Does Your Water Heater Use Heating Oil Too?

Another important factor to consider is whether or not your water heater is oil-fired. If your or someone else in your home likes to beat back the winter chill by taking long, hot showers or baths, this will impact your delivery schedule. One way to make fuel calculations easy is to find a reputable, reliable fuel delivery service and then staying with them. IT Landes just so happens to be one of the best in the business. Using automatic delivery service from the same company from year to year will give you the benefit of historical data that can shape your scheduling decisions. Automatic delivery service includes non-invasive tracking measures to increase the accuracy of estimates for heating oil needs. With automatic delivery, you don’t have to contact your provider when you need fuel oil. Instead, we’ll automatically come to you.

Changes in Household Dynamics

If you’ve recently added family members, you may need to increase the frequency of your fuel oil deliveries. This is especially true if you have both an oil-fired heater and an oil-fired water heater. If you host guests during the winter season, you’ll have to account for the heating oil that’s being used to warm up their bath water and to meet their other needs.

It’s additionally important to note that people tend to spend more time at home in winter. If you’re working from home or if people in your household are going to school virtually, you’ll need more heating oil to maintain a comfortable indoor environment during times when residents are normally away. The more that you’re able to eliminate the guesswork from this equation, the easier it will be to avoid a heating oil emergency.

Environmental Factors That Lie Outside of Your Control

There are also several environmental factors that can significantly increase your fuel consumption. For instance, sometimes winter starts much earlier than it does in most years, and it lasts a lot longer. Sometimes temperatures drop exceedingly low and stay that way for long stretches of time. If you’re using historical data from prior years to estimate your heating oil needs, you have to remember that outside conditions can be quite different from year to year. If this winter turns out to be much harsher than past winters, and if your home heating system has sustained significant efficiency losses, your heating oil needs could be far different from what you expect.

Unfortunately, with rising fuel prices, it’s also important to account for heating oil leaks. If you don’t have preventative measures in place to protect your fuel and your tank, much of your next delivery could be lost due to an inconspicuous leak. In early spring, evidence of leaky tanks tends to be much easier to spot. With people spending more time in their yards, the tell-tale smell of heating oil is impossible to miss. Dying grass is another springtime indicator of tank leaks. However, in winter, these are symptoms that you’ll likely miss. While you certainly can’t stockpile heating oil in your basement to make up for leaks, you can align yourself with IT Landes. We offer emergency refills and emergency tank inspections, replacements, and repairs.

Heating Oil Tank Designs

Not only is your heating oil tank never actually filled to the top for safety reasons, but it’s never emptied completely. During a heating oil delivery, a significant amount of space is left open for air. As heating oil tanks run dry, a reasonable amount of oil is reserved at their bottoms. This is because the supply line that feeds oil to your heating system doesn’t actually reach the bottom of your tank. Instead, it ends several inches above the tank base. When fuel levels drop below the very end of the supply line, your tank will issue an alert, and your heating equipment will stop functioning. This is also a protective measure. Even a well-maintained heating oil tank has small amounts of sediment and sludge at its very base. Thus, the oil that remains after the tank has signaled its alert is oil that you really don’t want to use.

Heating Oil Tank Monitoring Systems

There are several types of monitoring systems that can help you avoid an empty tank. These are available at varying price points and varying levels of sophistication. Most systems have one unit that gets installed inside of your tank and another that’s installed inside of your home. When the in-tank unit registers low oil levels, the in-home monitor sounds an alarm. These devices are incredibly handy to have if your furnace is aging and no longer using fuel efficiently.

The general recommendation for furnace oil refills is to schedule service when your tank is between one-third and one-quarter full. If you don’t have a two-unit tank monitoring system, you can check your tank manually by reading its float gauge or using a dipstick.

What Happens When Heating Oil Tanks Run Dry?

Having your heating oil tank run dry will leave you without a functional heating system right when you need it most. If you use heating oil to power your hot water heater, you’ll miss out on hot baths and showers as well. Worse still, despite having your supply line end above your tank’s bottom, there’s still the possibility of having air, moisture, and sediment enter your heating system. If this occurs, your oil delivery company may have to bleed your tank’s supply lines before completing your refill. This is an extra charge and an additional hassle. In some instances, letting your tank run completely dry can also cause irreparable heating system damage.

Schedule Automatic Heating Oil Delivery

At IT Landes, we’re committed to helping residents of Harleysville, Pennsylvania make informed decisions about their heating systems. We provide reliable heating, cooling, and plumbing installation, maintenance, and repair services. In addition, we provide duct cleaning and air purification systems. We also offer fuel oil delivery for homeowners with oil-fired heating systems. If you need help keeping your heating oil tank full, we’ve got you covered. Contact IT Landes now to find out more about our on-demand, automatic, and emergency delivery services.

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