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Heating Oil Alternatives: Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

Heating Oil Alternatives: Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

We all hope to avoid running out of heating oil. Particularly in the cold weather, realizing your heating oil tank is on empty is not fun. If it happens to you, do not worry — you have a few options. In this article, we’ll talk about heating oil alternatives and how to use them safely in your tank.

First, Double Check Your Home Heating Oil Tank

The first thing you want to do is confirm that you actually need a heating oil alternative before proceeding with any of the below. You can do this by inspecting your oil tank to confirm the current level of fuel.

Identify the location of your tank’s gauge. The gauge floats on top of the oil within the tank so it will let you know how full – or empty – your tank is. To be sure your floating gauge is accurate, you can remove the plastic cover around it and push it down with your hand. If the tank contains oil, the gauge will return back to its original position at the proper level. If the gauge remains down, that is how you know your tank is out of fuel.

How to Manually Check Your Tank’s Heating Oil Level

Another option is to manually check your oil level by using a measuring stick. This is often referred to as a “dip stick” or “yard stick”. Simply insert the stick vertically down into the tank. Every tank will have a different measurement in inches indicating the amount of fuel in the tank. A handy fuel tank measurement chart can come in handy here.

Next, Book the Next Available Heating Oil Delivery.

If your tank is out or critically low on fuel, schedule the next available heating oil delivery. We’ll dive deeper into the reasoning for this next but get yourself on the delivery schedule whether it be tomorrow or in a few days from now.

The reason for this is that filling your tank with a safe heating oil alternative can be unnecessarily costly. So you will only want to use a temporary alternative in small increments to hold you over until your heating oil delivery arrives.

Diesel Fuel as a Heating Oil Alternative

At this point we have confirmed our tank is critically low or empty and we have scheduled the next available heating oil delivery. Now we can take the next steps to use diesel fuel as a heating oil alternative.

Diesel fuel – the same diesel you see at your local gas station — is a safe alternative to home heating oil. Many people don’t know this, but home heating oil is diesel fuel – they are one and the same petroleum product. What differentiates them is the color in which they are dyed at the refinery. The dye doesn’t serve a function for you as far as the fueling itself goes. Instead, the dye is used as a visual marker to help our government regulate fuel taxes by use.

The diesel fuel at your local gas station is taxed higher than the diesel fuel that is used as home heating oil. That is why it is best to always fill your tank with true #2 home heating oil (and that is why we recommended you get on the delivery schedule as soon as possible!) You will avoid paying unnecessary taxes.

Use 5-10 Gallons of Diesel Fuel as a Temporary Heating Oil Alternative.

Aside from the higher price, diesel fuel can burn slightly hotter than traditional heating oil. In general, this doesn’t really matter much but doing this continually over a long period of time can cause damage to your heating system that is not designed to withstand higher temperatures regularly.

Your best bet is to use a maximum of 5-10 gallons of diesel fuel to hold you over for until your next delivery.

Be sure you are using DIESEL, NOT using gasoline as an alternative to heating oil.

It is critical that you ensure the fuel you purchase from your local gas station is DIESEL, NOT GASOLINE. Gasoline cannot be used in your home heating oil tank. It will not work and it is dangerous.

When handling diesel fuel, we recommend using the correct colored containers to mitigate any confusion. Yellow containers are used for diesel. Red containers are for gasoline.

How to Use Diesel Fuel in Your Home Heating Oil Tank

Once you have picked up diesel fuel in your properly marked yellow container, head back home to begin filling up your tank. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn off your tank. You can do this with your tank’s thermostat control.
  2. Add the diesel fuel to your tank. Once your tank is off, you can go ahead and add up to 10 gallons of diesel into the tank. It is ok to mix the left over fuel with the diesel.
  3. Let it settle. Give the tank about 10 minutes after being filled to allow all sediment to settle to the bottom of the tank.
  4. Turn your tank back on. Now you can go ahead and restart your heating oil system. Your home should begin warming up as normal.

Get Emergency Heating Oil Delivery with Just Fuel

If your tank is low, you can give us a call or schedule your heating oil delivery online in a few quick clicks. Just Fuel is proud to be a reliable, discount fuel company serving all of Long Island. To prevent future tank emptiness, you can also ask us about our automatic fill services.


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