While oil heating usage is rapidly diminishing throughout the US, it's still common in some parts of the country. As a result, it's not uncommon to purchase a new home that utilizes fuel oil as its heating source. Although some homeowners choose to convert these systems to natural gas or electricity, there's nothing wrong with keeping your existing heating system if it's working well.
However, servicing and maintaining a fuel oil system requires some specialized knowledge. If you're buying into one of these systems for the first time, check out these three tips to keep your home heated without facing any expensive repair bills.
1. Avoid Running Your Tank Dry
One unique feature of oil heating is the requirement for homeowners to track their usage and schedule fill-ups. Fortunately, local heating companies typically offer services that can help you monitor your tank level and deliver more oil as needed. These services can be helpful because it's essential to prevent your tank from running dry.
You should treat your oil tank like your car's gas tank. You don't wait until your car leaves you stranded to get gas, and you shouldn't wait for your heat to stop working before refilling on oil. The bottom of your tank can also contain sludge, and allowing the tank to run too low will draw this sludge into your heating system and potentially lead to expensive repairs.
2. Don't Ignore Leaks
Oil leaks can be a problem with any oil heating system. Small leaks can lead to messy clean-ups, while more significant leaks can impact your home's resale value and force you to conduct costly environmental remediation. Fortunately, it's typically easy to avoid these problems by performing some routine care for your oil heating system.
You should schedule a service visit with a professional HVAC technician at least once per year. These visits will allow you to catch leaky components before they can cause too much damage. Your technician may also recommend upgrading old, buried oil lines to avoid expensive leaks from occurring below your foundation.
3. Check Your Safety Valves
Fuel oil is an incredibly safe heating source, but it still requires several safety features. The oil line safety valves (OSVs) are among the most critical. You may also hear some people refer to these as "firomatic" valves. These devices automatically shut off oil from the tank in the event of a fire, hopefully preventing the fuel oil from causing more damage to your home.
You should learn how to check these valves for correct operation or have a service tech perform this check at least once per year. As with other HVAC appliances, you should always make testing and maintaining safety equipment a high priority.
For more information on heating services, contact a professional near you.