If you use heating oil to keep your home warm and have an outdoor heating oil tank, you might be concerned whether it’ll freeze.
At -16°F, heating oil begins to freeze. However, it does not freeze the same way that water does. It doesn’t harden into ice. Instead, it thickens until it becomes a waxy sludge. The term “gelling” is usually used to describe this state.
Gelling of heating oil is a major concern because it can create serious problems for your heating oil tank, your oil-fired heating system, and your home.
Gelled oil is heavier than non-gelled heating oil. It thus goes to the bottom of your heating oil tank. The amount of burnable oil decreases as more oil gels.
If a thick gelled oil is pumped through the heating oil pipes from the tank to your home’s furnace or boiler, it accumulates on the walls of these lines, reducing the amount of heating oil delivered to your heating system. This lowers your heating system’s efficiency.
That clogging eventually reaches the atomizing nozzle, which turns your heating oil into a vapor so it can be burned. Less oil that can be converted to heat gets through. The gelled oil can also clog your heating oil filter.
Before we get into preventative measures, let’s discuss safety. NEVER tamper with your heating system equipment, oil tank, or fuel. Vaughn Oil provides expert, professional service in this area.
Here are some ways to stop gelling before it starts.
Have your heating system professionally maintained. Regular maintenance ensures that your heating system is working at peak performance and allows our expert service technicians to detect any problems caused by prior gelling occurrences.
Protect your heating oil tank. Build a shed around your heating oil tank to protect it against the elements and shield it from cold winds that can increase the risk of gelling.
Bury your heating oil line. If the line from your heating oil tank to your house is aboveground, it’s more susceptible to the cold and is more likely to gel. Burying the line underground offers natural insulation from the cold.
Install a wider fuel line. A wider fuel line reduces the amount of blockage from gelling.
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