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How Safe Is Heating Oil?

Posted: August 5, 2019

Heating oil safety

Heating oil has been used to heat New England homes for nearly a century, and for good reason: all-in-all, it just might be the most cost-effective way to produce the kind of heat we need to keep us safe and cozy through our long Rhode Island winters.

It’s also the safest way to heat our homes.

That safety starts with the fuel itself: unlike natural gas, heating oil is not highly flammable at room temperature. In fact, if you dropped a lit match into a pool of heating oil, it would go out – just as if you had dropped it in water. To burn, heating oil must first be heated to a temperature of 140 degrees and then vaporized (which is exactly what happens inside your furnace).

Heating system maintenance: the key to heating oil safety

As is the case with any fuel, the key to ensuring safe operation of an oil heating system is preventative maintenance, including an annual heating system inspection to detect early signs of trouble. During an annual inspection, your service technician will thoroughly clean your furnace or boiler and burner to remove any dust and debris that has accumulated over the course of the year. He’ll also perform a series of tests to detect and fix any potential safety or performance issues.

Modern heating oil tanks also contribute to the safety of using the fuel: Today’s double wall steel and plastic or fiberglass heating oil tanks are virtually leak-proof, and nearly all tanks include a built-in alarm that alerts the heating oil delivery technician if the tank has been overfilled, helping to minimize spills and leaks.

Of course, it’s still important to make periodic visual inspections of your oil storage tank to look for pools of oil that indicate a leak – just keep in mind that you won’t always be able to tell if your heating oil tank is compromised without a professional ultrasound heating oil storage tank inspection, since heating oil tank corrosion typically begins inside the tank.

A note about carbon monoxide risk

Although heating oil poses a very low risk of carbon monoxide leaks, they are possible in a poorly maintained heating system. 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.

Heating oil – the best and safest way to heat your Rhode Island home! Contact us today to become a Vaughn Oil customer and keep the reliable heating oil deliveries coming all fall and winter long.