Frequently Asked Questions About Oil Heating & Furnace Oil

Q. I just moved into a house with an oil furnace and I don’t know anything about it! How do I order oil ?

A: You can order a specific quantity of oil, such as 100 gallons; you can have your tank filled; OR, you may want to just budget a certain amount of money. In general, the more gallons of oil you purchase at one time, the lower the price per gallon is.

Q.How can I find out how many gallons my tank holds?

A.The easiest way is to have the tank filled from empty; however, if that isn’t possible, there are a few ways to estimate. First, if your tank is above ground (in your yard or basement), and measures 44” high by 60” wide by 27” deep, it holds 275 gallons. Most in-ground tanks are standard in size; those sizes are: 288, 340, 420, 518, 550, 555 and 675. In the Portland area, 675 gallon tanks are very common. On your next oil delivery, ask us to measure the tank before and after adding oil. By measuring the change in oil level, our driver can then more accurately estimate your tank size.

Q.How much will it cost me to heat my house?

A.Energy prices vary daily. As a result, every year is likely to be different. Even in recent years of so called “peak oil” use prices have gone down as well as up. According to 2009 statistics typical houses in the Portland Metro area will use $900 to $2400 per year for heating, taking into consideration all types of heating sources. A well- maintained oil heat system can save versus the average. It pays to keep your heating system maintained.

Back to Top Q.How many gallons of oil will I use in a month? A year?

A.A typical round number of gallons for mid- winter use during the three frigid months of December, January and February will be about 100 gallons per month (about 3 gallons per day). The other nine months of the year will use about the same heating dollars as the three coldest winter months.

Q.Is it true that burning wood in a fireplace will make your home-heating energy costs go up instead of down?

A.According to Marilyn vos Savant of Ask Marilyn fame, “Yes. A fire needs air to burn, so it draws already heated air from the rest of the house. That action, in turn, pulls cold outside air into the house wherever it has leaks. Some of the warmth from a fire radiates into the room, but most of the heat goes up the chimney. The best of use of a fireplace is for enjoyment.”

Q.Is there a best time of year to purchase heating oil?

A.It is best to fill your tank before the heating season begins. Keeping your tank full or at least mostly full in the summer will help prevent water build up in your tank due to condensation.

Q.Is there a time of year when heating oil prices are lowest?

A.Sometimes the prices are lower in the summer. However, over the last dozen years or so worldwide market forces have been a bigger influence on energy costs than the season. That makes the concept of price timing a dicey game. Watching the diesel prices at the gas station is one way people can see pricing trends in heating oil. Local prices of heating oil are often different than the national scene. You are always welcome to track heating oil prices by calling us.

Q.What happens if I run out of oil?

A.Your furnace will stop running and you will need to order more oil. Restarting the furnace is usually as simple as pushing the reset button on the oil burner.

Q:Is it hard on my furnace to run out of oil?

A.It’s better for your heating system NOT to let it run out but it seldom causes damage. Refill your oil tank before it gets much less than a quarter full for best results.

Q.What do I need to know about selling an Oil-Heated home?

A.Click here to see our Informational Web Brochures on our Resources page for help with selling your oil-heated home.

Q.What if my pilot light goes out?

A.There is not a pilot light in an oil furnace. That’s a good thing. It means you are not using any energy when the furnace is not producing heat for you. This is another way that oil furnaces save money, energy and the environment.

Q.Is oil heat clean?

A.Oil heat is as clean as any other energy source for home heating. A properly maintained oil furnace will not put out any visible smoke from the chimney and there will be no dust , soot or smell inside either.

Q.What do I do if I have a smell or soot?

A.All furnaces and furnace types will need annual “tune-ups” to keep them running clean and efficiently. Call or email us to schedule your maintenance service.

Q.Is oil heat safe?

A.Yes, oil heat is very safe. Many say it may be considered the safest type of heat because it will not explode nor will it get so hot as to catch anything on fire. Yet oil heat is the warmest heat coming out of a heat vent. Thus it warms your home quickly, safely and cost effectively.

Q.Is it OK to burn diesel fuel in my oil furnace?

A.Yes. Heating oil is diesel fuel. It is dyed red to indicate that it is not legal to burn in a diesel vehicle because the red dye indicates that there were no road taxes paid with it. Putting diesel fuel into your oil thank is good way to get yourself through an otherwise cold night and morning in the case that you let yourself run out when a truck cannot get to you till the next day. Better yet see our Auto-Fill program by clicking here.