Daffodils are a sure sign that spring is here and summer is coming. If you heat your home with oil, it also means you need to fill your tank and keep it full for the summer. In the winter, an empty tank means no heat. But an empty heating oil storage tank in the summer is also bad.
Filling your heating oil tank may seem like a strange thing to do, but it’s important to prepare your tank for the summer months to protect it from the heat and humidity.
Empty space in your tank is where water condensation can form. And condensation is common during the summer. In warm weather, condensation can easily form inside a heating oil tank that is half empty. It’s a natural event that happens when it is cooler inside the tank compared to the external temperatures. A full tank reduces the surface area inside for condensation to form. And if your tank is aboveground, outdoors and in an unshaded area, it’s especially prone to condensation.
Dangers of condensation
After water forms on the bare walls of the oil tank, it drips into the oil. Because water is denser than heating oil, it will settle to the bottom of your tank. And there, it becomes ideal environment for bacteria and other microorganisms to grow. Over time as they multiply and die off, they create sediment, also known as sludge. As sediment builds up, it can get pulled into your fuel line and clog it, resulting in a heating system breakdown.
Sediment also has a corrosive effect on a fuel oil tank. The sediment, still containing water, causes the tank to rust from the inside out. This can seriously weaken your tank and lead to a possible heating oil tank failure – a problem you won’t see coming until it’s too late.
Schedule a tank inspection
Once the heating season comes to an end, it is a good time to schedule an inspection and maintenance. Although it’s good practice to ensure your heating oil tank is in good condition throughout the entire year, the summer offers up the perfect opportunity to inspect the tank when there’s no pressure. You should visually inspect the whole tank for any visible damage and keep your eyes open for leaks and spills. Also, make sure the pipe fittings are secure and not leaking oil.
Benefits of a full oil tank
There are other benefits of filling your oil tank at the end of the heating season.
- Available when you need it. Summer goes by quickly. Before you know it, you may want to turn on that heat to take the fall chill out of your home. Having a full tank in May means you don’t need to think about it in October.
- Schedule deliveries at your convenience. Rather than waiting until you need oil to order it, filling your tank in the off-season is less stressful. You can arrange it around your schedule.
- Extend the life of your equipment. Eliminating the issues of condensation not only keeps your heating system working properly, you also reduce the risk of leaks caused by the corrosion. Oil leaks can cause serious property damage.
- Save you money on fuel. Filling your tank when prices are at their seasonal low points can save you money. Heating oil can sit for years without degradation, so there’s no risk in buying and topping off the tank even when you don’t need it.
If you fill your oil tank during the offseason and before summer heat and humidity can cause condensation, you can prevent problems and potentially save you time and money.