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

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

If you are wondering if you can put diesel fuel in your home heating oil tank, the short answer is, yes, if necessary, you can substitute diesel fuel for heating oil to hold you over until your heating oil delivery arrives.

When You Are Low on Heating Oil

Ultimately, 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 you are running low or empty on heating oil, you may have heard that using diesel fuel can be a quick fix. The good news is that this is absolutely true. Diesel fuel and home heating oil are nearly identical.

In this article, we’ll talk about heating oil alternatives and how to use them safely in your tank.

Diesel Fuel vs. Home Heating Oil

Diesel fuel that you can find at your local gas station can work as a feasible substitute for home heating oil in virtually all furnaces. Both diesel fuel and no. 2 heating oil are midlevel (or midweight) distillation of petroleum. Both produce roughly the same amount of heat and can be burned by the same systems.

One key difference though is that home heating oil is dyed red. To the naked eye, home heating oil will appear to be a different color than diesel fuel — confusing right?

Well, this has to do with tax regulation. Diesel fuel used for transportation and vehicles are taxed higher than diesel fuels used to heat homes.  That is why the diesel for sale at your local gas station will always be more expensive per gallon than home heating oil.

Please keep in mind that gasoline is not the same thing as heating oil or diesel fuel.

Gas that you see at your every day gas station absolutely cannot be used in your home heating oil furnace. Do NOT put ordinary vehicle gasoline in your oil tank. It will damage your furnace and cause a whole slew of other problems.

How to Use Diesel Fuel When You are Out of Heating Oil

If you find yourself in a situation where you may need to use diesel fuel as a temporary substitute for home heating oil, there are several steps you should follow to ensure proper and safe use.

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.

Don’t wait on this. 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 you will have confirmed that your tank is critically low or empty and you will have scheduled the next available heating oil delivery. Now we can take the next steps to use diesel fuel as a heating oil alternative.

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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