Heating Oil Runouts: What to Do and How to Avoid Them
Posted: October 24, 2018
Running out of home heating oil is no fun – especially in the dead of a Rhode Island winter. A runout can happen for a number of reasons – a quick turn of weather, malfunctioning equipment, poor tank monitoring, and theft, to name a few.
The good news
Many people fear that running out of home heating oil will damage their furnace or boiler, but that isn’t necessarily true – your equipment has an emergency switch that will automatically switch off the burner when there is no oil to burn.
The bad news
Besides having a potentially dangerously cold house, a heating oil runout can clog filters and fuel lines with the dirt and residue that collects at the bottom of your oil tank. That means you will need a service call, a possible system reset, and a new filter. Frozen pipes are also a major problem, with potential for thousands of dollars in flood damage.
Troubleshooting a heating oil runout
If you’ve run out of heating oil, do a little detective work – it could help you prevent the problem in the future. Ask yourself the following questions to determine why:
- When was the last time you filled your oil tank?
- Have you raised the thermostat?
- Has there been a sudden shift in the weather?
- Is your oil tank accessible to theft?
- Is your furnace or boiler working correctly?
- When was the last time you serviced your furnace or boiler?
What to do if you run out of heating oil
- If it is winter, take immediate steps to retain the heat you have in your house: close curtains, block under-door drafts, hang blankets over doorways, etc.
- If you have other forms of heating such as fireplace or electric heater, use them. NEVER use outdoor equipment (barbecues, outdoor stoves, etc.) indoors – carbon monoxide build up can be extremely dangerous or even deadly.
- Contact us for an emergency delivery.
Preventing a heating oil runout
Prevention is always best. You can avoid running out of home heating oil by:
- Choose automatic delivery – let us worry about managing your heating oil deliveries.
- Monitor your fuel gauge regularly, especially during a cold snap.
- Order when your tank is no less than 25 percent full (sooner if it is really cold) – don’t wait until the last minute; instant deliveries are not always possible.
- Install an electronic tank gauge to monitor your heating oil level.
- Secure your oil tank to prevent theft.
If you run out of heating oil, don’t panic – contact Vaughn Oil. Our experts can restart your burner, take care of any problems that arise and refill your tank to keep your family safe and warm at home.