It’s that time of year again and we are receiving many phone calls from customers who forgot to call and order fuel oil for their home or business before they turned their heat on. Now they’ve run out and have no heat…time to panic. The best thing to do is call your go-to oil company and find out when they’d be able to get you a delivery. Same day delivery does exist depending on the company and the circumstances and often comes with a fee. Keep in mind a good company takes care of its loyal customers and will often work with you in cases like these.
Now that you’ve gotten your delivery, everything should work like normal…right? Wrong. Customers don’t realize that letting yourself run out can have other implications on your heating system. Your unit will continue to pull from your oil tank even if the tank is empty when you have your heat on. This means that air, dirt, and the sludgy stuff that sits at the bottom of any tank will get pulled into your system and start causing problems. Even after your delivery, these problems will need to be addressed before your heat is restored. The common term for it is “bleeding the lines” or “starting your furnace”. This simply means, the technician or driver will remove the air & sludge that is blocking the way for the good oil to get to where it needs to go. Once this is done (pending no other issues are found)…. Heat!
A couple things to keep in mind if you find yourself running out more than desired:
Consider switching to automatic delivery if offered by your company. It takes the responsibility off the homeowner and offers protection against runouts. Typically with automatic, most customers receive either a spring fill or a fall fill depending on the type of heating system to ensure they begin the heating season with a full tank.
Invest in a tank monitor. Although a more recent technology, there are models out now that connect directly to the homes wifi and will alert when at a certain level. These are great for 2 system homes with oil as their backup.
Kerosene is a safe alternative to use if you’ve run out of oil. Usually found at your local gas station, putting 5-10 gallons into your tank will usually get you through a weekend if your company can’t deliver until Monday. Keep in mind the lines may still need to be bled, but at least the heat can be restored for the weekend.