Oil heat is cost-effective, clean, and comfortable. It is also the safest source of heat. Oil will not burn in a liquid state; if you were to drop a match into oil, it would extinguish as if it were dropped in water. That said, one must be aware of the following:
Fills and Vents
You should check your tank vent to make sure it's not clogged with ice, leaves, snow, or insect nests. A clogged vent may result in overfilling during a delivery, which can result in a fuel spill. Fills can also leak - there was a period of time when PVC piping was used as a cheap alternative to iron pipes for fills, and these are prone to cracking and should be replaced.
In short, all pipes, hoses, valves, and fittings connected to a tank can be sources of leaks, especially in an older system, and should be checked periodically.
Leaks and Oil Tanks
Oil heat means oil tanks. The biggest potential problem with an oil tank, whether your tank is indoors or outdoors, above or below ground, is the possibility of a leak. An oil leak is a serious problem; it can contaminate your drinking water, your soil, and cause health problems. It can also be extremely costly to clean up.
How do you know if you have a leak? Here are the most common signs:
- A sharp, unexplained spike in consumption. If you're not sure, give us a call and we can review your usage with you.
- A change in the performance of your furnace, or if your furnace is suddenly shutting off frequently.
- Changes or loss of the vegetation around your tank (for outdoor tanks).
- Oil odors in areas other than around the oil burner.
- A different taste or odor to your water.
- Oil or an oily sheen in your basement's low point or drains, nearby culverts, ditches, storm drains, streams, or ponds.
Considerations with Above Ground Oil Tanks
If you have an above ground oil tank, check for signs of corrosion (rust), particularly at the bottom of the tank. Residential oil tanks usually rust from the inside out; so if signs of aging are visible, it's probably time to replace the tank. Tanks that are 15 years old and older have a dramatically higher rate of rusting.
Oil tank replacement
When heating with oil, safe storage of the fuel is critical. Whenever we welcome a new customer, we require a tank inspection be performed prior to making the first delivery. You should know the important things to look for and spot check your own equipment every so often.
Here is a check list to get you started.
- Is your fuel tank secure and level?
- Does your fuel tank have a tank gauge so you can monitor the level of fuel in your tank?
- Is your fill pipe a 2" iron pipe and your vent pipe at least 1-1/2" iron pipe? Plastic fill pipes may come apart at the seams during a fill up.
- Does your vent pipe have a vent alarm that will signal our deliveryman when the storage tank is full? Faulty or non-existent fill alarms can lead to overfills and spills.
- Is your fuel tank installed on a concrete floor, a concrete pad, or on 4" solid concrete blocks using iron pipe tank legs with floor flanges so that the tank is properly supported? The fuel storage tank should not be installed on fieldstone or wood.
- Does your fuel tank have a firematic valve and fuel filter? In the event of a fire, the valve will automatically shut to assure that the fuel tank will not feed oil to a building fire.
- Is your fuel line protected with a vinyl coating or sleeved with a PVC pipe or a protective sheath?
If your answer is "no" to any of these questions, we encourage you to call us so we can come out and inspect your tank and provide some advice. If needed, we can refer you to good HVAC contractors who can address your particular situation.
If you smell petroleum fumes call us immediately at 607-863-3600.
There are a number of reasons why you might smell fumes, and some of them are very serious. If you are smelling fumes your health and safety may be at risk. Fumes are often accompanied by the odorless and colorless gas carbon monoxide. Fumes mean something is amiss and should not be ignored.