What to Do If You Run Out of Heating Oil
Running out of heating oil may be preventable, but it happens. Our step-by-step guide will walk you through what to do if you run out of fuel.
Step 1: Double Check There’s Not Another Problem First.
It may seem like you are completely out of fuel — and you might be — but you first want to make sure that is in fact the reason your heat isn’t working.
Head to your tank location and first look at the tank gauge. Almost all oil tanks have a floating-style gauge near the top that will tell you approximately how much fuel is left in your tank. If the floating disc or ball instead the gauge is above the 1/8th mark, you may still have oil in your tank. This would mean that the lack of hot water and/or heat in your home is not due to an empty oil tank but instead, likely coming from another issue within your heating system. If that is the case, you should contact an experienced service technician to check it out.
Step 2: Book The Next Available Oil Delivery.
Once you are sure that you have run out of heating oil, you should immediately book the next available heating oil delivery slot. During the peak season, it is possible that you won’t be able to get an immediate delivery just simply due to capacity limits. This is unfortunately really common. But it is still best to get yourself on the delivery schedule for the next best time slot.
Often, however, you may actually be able to get a delivery routed to you that very same day. As a local heating oil provider in your area, Just Fuel makes it easy to do the entire process online so that you don’t need to call around a bunch of places to compare prices or sit on the phone while you’re at work just to provide your delivery details. You can see our real-time prices and book your delivery within a matter of minutes from your computer or Smart phone.
Step 3: If You Can’t Wait, Get Diesel Fuel From The Gas Station
Your best bet is to hang tight and wait for your oil delivery to get there.
But if it is a dire emergency and you are concerned that you won’t be able to wait until we arrive with your delivery, you can head to your local gas station to purchase some diesel fuel. This can help heat your home in the interim.
Did you know that diesel fuel from the gas station and the heating oil we pump into your home are actually almost identical petroleum fuel products?
This means that diesel fuel from the gas station can be used as a substitute in your heating oil tank for the time being. It will burn similarly to heating oil.
Heating oil is diesel fuel. What makes heating oil different from the diesel fuel sold at your local gas station is simply the color that they are dyed at the refinery. While the dyed color is meaningless from a functionality standpoint, the dye coloration is important to the government for tax regulation reasons. This is because laws require diesel fuels that are used for automobiles to be taxed differently than diesel fuels that are used to heat your home. That is why diesel fuel from a gas station is a lot more expensive per gallon than heating oil. So while diesel is completely fine as a temporary fix to hold you over, you would never want to fill up your entire tank from the gas station’s diesel supply.
Don’t forget that you want DIESEL, NOT gasoline. Please do not confuse the two!
The regular automobile gasoline that you purchase every day at your local gas station is not the same thing as the diesel fuel we’re talking about. Gas is a lighter weight distillation and it cannot be used in your home heating oil furnace. This means you CANNOT put ordinary vehicle gasoline in your oil tank. It will damage your heating oil system.
To reduce any confusion, we always recommend you buy a yellow fillable can from the gas station to fill with diesel fuel. We recommend a yellow can rather than red can because the red jugs can often be confused for gasoline. And again, you only want DIESEL – NOT gasoline.
Around 5 gallons of diesel fuel should be enough to get you through the night depending on the size of your house and how cold it is outside but to be safe, 10 gallons will buy you a bit more time.
Step 4: Turn Off Your Oil Burner & Pour the Diesel Fuel into Your Heating Oil Tank
It is best to turn off your burner before putting the diesel fuel into your heating oil tank as doing will prevent any kicked up sediment from causing a clog in your system. Then head outside to find your tank’s fill pipe. They are usually on the side, back, or front of the home. It is the same place where the oil truck typically hooks the fuel hose during your oil deliveries.
Open the fill cap and slowly pour the diesel from the can’s spout into the fill pipe. Once complete, put the cap back on the fill pipe securely and head back inside.
Step 5: Restart Your Burner After 15 Minutes
By waiting 15 minutes or so, you have given your tank a good amount of time to settle any sediment that may have been kicked up while you were pouring fuel into the tank. Now you can press the burner’s reset button. Usually it is a big red button. Once you press the reset button, you will hear the system start up.
Step 6: Set Reminders to Check Your Tank Gauge
As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Be sure to check your fuel levels at least once every other week, if not weekly. This is undoubtedly the best way to avoid any last minute emergencies during the cold winter months.