Heating oil has been keeping families warm through tough New England winters for more than a century – a testament to its unbeatable ability to pump out consistent heat for hours at a clip.
But how does heating oil stack up when it comes to safety? As it turns out, heating oil is probably at the top of that list, too.
Let’s start with the fuel itself: simply put, heating oil will not burn at temperatures you would normally find in your home: to burn, heating oil must be vaporized under very specific conditions (as it is inside your boiler or furnace). Natural gas, on the other hand, can be volatile in normal household conditions.
As is the case with any other home energy source, the key to keeping your oil heating system operating safely is to get annual preventive maintenance from a licensed heating expert every year. During a service visit, a technician will perform several tests to make sure your heating equipment is working correctly; if he spots a potential safety or performance issue, he’ll take care of it right away.
Another safety improvement in today’s world of heating oil is the development of double wall steel and plastic or fiberglass heating oil tanks, which virtually eliminate oil leaks. While older, single wall steel oil tanks were durable, they were susceptible to internal corrosion in the presence of moisture – a problem that could lead to surprise tank leaks or even tank failures.
Heating oil holds a big advantage when it comes to carbon monoxide detection compared to other fuels: if an oil burner goes out of whack, it will produce smoke – a natural warning to people in your home. A gas burner, on the other hand, will produce only colorless, odorless carbon monoxide; this makes a CO buildup harder to detect.
If your oil furnace is producing black smoke or soot, contact us right away – this is a sign your equipment is not functioning properly and the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning exists. It’s also critical to have tested and working carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and to know the telltale symptoms of CO poisoning, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.