How Long Does Heating Oil Last (And When Is It Time To Order More)?
Heating oil lasts 18 to 24 months with additives mixed in before delivery. After that, it becomes unstable. Mixing additives after delivery won’t extend the oil’s life. But, it’s rare for oil to sit that long in a tank without being used.
When people ask this question, they’re often concerned that their fuel oil has been sitting too long in their tank. Other times, they’re actually asking how long they can expect to go before they need to order oil again.
Either way, we’ve got you covered!
First, we’ll talk about whether you need to worry about your heating oil going bad — and what can happen to it over time. Then, we’ll help you figure out your home’s average daily heating oil usage in winter.
When it comes to that second part, we need to stress that the number of gallons per day you’ll need to heat your home depends on quite a few factors. So while we can’t give you any definitive number, we’ll help you determine a rule of thumb.
But, the bottom line is that you never want to wait too long to order oil! Running out could mean going without heat in the dead of winter. Even letting it get too low can cause problems with your heating system (we’ll get into why a little later).
Read More: What To Do If You Run Out Of Heating Oil
If your home in Haverford, PA or anywhere on the Main Line needs fuel oil, John Cipollone has been the trusted delivery company for over 50 years. And, we provide a free inspection with every visit.
Keep reading to learn more, or give us a call at (610) 446-7877.
Does Heating Oil Go Bad?
Heating oil will start to go bad after sitting in your tank for a year and a half or two years after delivery. It lasts that long if the fuel oil company mixes in additives during delivery (they usually do). Mixing in more additives later won’t make it last longer.
What happens is that the oil begins breaking down primarily due to bacteria in the tank plus any water that makes its way in there. Meanwhile, there’s always some rust or other debris at the bottom of the tank — especially if it’s a few decades old.
That sediment also causes the heating oil to go bad over time.
Today, oil companies usually mix chemicals with the standard #2 heating oil when delivering it. That’s what makes it last that long.
But, once it starts breaking down, there’s no returning it to its previous state.
Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about this if you use your heating throughout the winter. Especially if you also use oil for your hot water or stove.
How Much Heating Oil Will I Use In A Day?
Every home uses a different amount of heating oil in a day, so we can’t give any hard-and-fast figures here. But, at the most, a Main Line home can use up to 16 gallons a day. That’s a very high estimate, however. Usually, it’s between two and five in the winter.
We’ll get into the specific factors that affect your usage. But, the way it works is that there’s a nozzle in the system that sprays, at most, two gallons of oil into the heater every hour.
Since most systems run for eight hours a day in the winter, that gives you a max of 16 gallons.
Your individual oil consumption depends on:
- Outside Temperature
- Home Layout And Insulation
- Your System’s Energy Efficiency
The lower the temperature outside, the more your heater will have to run until your home gets to the temperature you want. Then, once it turns off, the house cools down faster as it gets colder outside.
Home Layout And Insulation
Smaller homes or houses with lots of rooms require less heating than larger homes or ones with open floor plans. Also, an old house often requires more oil due to a lack of insulation.
Newer homes are almost airtight with lots of insulation. But, builders from a few decades ago or more let the homes “breathe.” Circulation was way more important before central air came along. That meant less insulation than today. And, by now, whatever they put in when they built the house has degraded somewhat.
And, that’s usually the case with all the older homes on the Main Line.
Your System’s Energy Efficiency
One of the most significant factors in how much heating oil you use is your system’s energy efficiency. Newer furnaces and high-end heaters require fewer gallons of oil to do the same job as older systems.
And, when you keep your system maintained with regular service, it lasts longer and performs better.
Better efficiency also means going longer between oil deliveries. But, no no matter your tank size, you should never let it go less than a quarter of the way full.
That’s when all the sediment and junk in there starts eating away at the oil. It will also begin clogging the system when it’s not just sitting at the bottom anymore.