what to do if you run out of heating oil

a family bundled up in a cold home

Running out of oil is something that can happen to even the most diligent homeowner, whether your gauge has gotten stuck and isn’t giving you an accurate reading, you headed out of town and forgot to request a delivery, or you simply just became distracted with some of life’s sudden surprises.  When this happens, there are options that can reduce the negative effects on you and your family.  When conserving what heat is left in your home, be sure to keep doors and windows tightly sealed, and safely utilize any supplemental heat sources you may have available.

confirm your tank is empty, and place an order

One of the first things that you can do is contact your oil company to place an order for delivery.  When doing this, you should confirm that the oil tank is indeed empty and that it’s not a different problem, such as an issue with your furnace or boiler.  Banging on the oil tank will not give you an accurate idea of whether or not it is actually empty, as many tanks are constructed with a double wall, causing it to sound the same regardless of contents.  Instead, if you suspect your gauge to be inaccurate, “sticking” the tank is your only real accurate method of determining the level of the oil inside.  This can be done manually with a measuring stick, similar to when checking the oil level in a vehicle.  If you determine that there is oil in your tank, you should place a service call for an HVAC technician instead of an oil delivery request.

use diesel fuel or kerosene

If, after placing your order, you determine that the oil will not be delivered to your home quickly enough, diesel fuel or kerosene (available at most gas stations) will work the same way as heating oil, and will not damage your home comfort equipment.  If you estimate five to ten gallons of diesel fuel per day, you can manually add that to the opening in the top of your tank to keep your system running until you receive your next delivery.  Please be sure that if you remove any fittings from the top of your tank to check your fuel level, or to dump fuel in, that you replace those prior to receiving a fuel delivery.  A tank with a missing fitting will cause the fill whistle to malfunction and could result in a driver being unable to fill the tank safely.

bleeding the line and restarting the burner

If your tank has gone completely empty and drawn air into the oil line that connects the tank to the furnace or boiler, it will need to be bled and restarted.  This is a service that can be provided by our delivery driver when they come to deliver your oil if you communicate that need when placing your order.  Once they have arrived at your location, the driver will need access to your tank and burner to perform the work, and you will be charged a $25 fee in addition to the cost of the oil.  Many homeowners are comfortable performing this simple task on their own, as there are several videos available online that show step-by-step instructions. 

sign up for worry-free automatic delivery

If you would like to eliminate the chance that you will run out of oil this winter, sign up for our worry-free automatic delivery.  We will deliver to your home based on your personal consumption rate along with current and future weather conditions so you always have fuel when you need it!  For more information about worry-free automatic delivery, visit our residential heating oil and fuels webpage: https://weaverenergy.com/residential-heating-oil-fuels/

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