How Long Is Heating Oil Good For?

Posted: July 8, 2019

Heating oil

Running out of heating oil in the middle of a cold Rhode Island winter is something we all want to avoid; to keep this from happening, most of us buy our fuel oil in batches throughout the year so we’re ready for action once heating season arrives (the smart move, of course, is to buy your heating oil in the off-season, when prices are typically at their lowest).

While stocking up on heating oil can be a convenient and cost effective strategy in theory, it can only work if heating oil has a substantial enough “shelf life” to sit in your heating oil tank until it’s needed.

The question is, does it? Let’s take a look.

Home heating oil basics

Heating oil is a fuel made from the fractional processing of crude oil. Similar to the diesel fuel that is used in diesel cars and trucks but without the engine helping additives, home heating oil is a different color than road-ready oil (which is dyed to differentiate the two, since road diesel is taxable).

One important thing to realize is that heating oil can (and will!) spoil over time. Bacteria in your oil tank and in the oil itself can degrade the oil, causing it to thicken into an eventually unusable sludge. Certain acids can also decrease the shelf life of your oil, as can paint, sludge, and rust. Water can also inhibit heating oil’s ability to burn.

Typically, fuel oil can last between 18 and 24 months without decaying. This is true as long as it includes the right additives is stored correctly.

To make your heating oil last as long as possible, do these three things:

  1. Make sure that your tank is well sealed. Consider a professional heating tank inspection to be sure your heating oil tank is not corroding from the inside out, which can lead to rust contamination and other problems.
  2. Only order quality heating oil from a reputable heating oil supplier.
  3. Estimate how much oil you will need for the season. It’s fine to order your heating oil in advance – in fact, we recommend it. But it’s a good idea to know approximately how much heating oil you will use during the course of a heating season so you don’t order and store heating oil you don’t need. If you need help with estimating your oil use, give us a call.

Need a reliable supply of heating oil any time of the year within our RI service area? We can help. Contact Vaughn Oil today for expert heating oil delivery and heating oil service in Rhode Island!