Owning vs. Renting a Propane Tank

above ground propane tank

Are you moving into a house heated with propane? Or thinking about switching propane suppliers this year? If so, you may be wondering if it’s better to rent or own a propane tank. In this post we’ll talk about the pros and cons of each. If you’re thinking about switching from oil to propane, we have a great post on heating oil vs. propane here.

Why Does It Matter If I Rent Or Own My Home Heating Propane Tank?

Propane, like heating oil, is different from regular utilities – such as electricity and natural gas – in that it must be delivered via truck. Once delivered, it must be stored in a tank on your property. If the tank is above ground, it can be rather unsightly. Fortunately, home heating propane tanks can be safely buried out of sight as well.

While a heating oil tank is always owned by the homeowner, a propane tank is not. As a homeowner, if you own your propane tank, you are free to order propane from any company you’d like. If your propane company owns the tank, you must buy your propane exclusively from that company – you cannot shop around. This makes buying a propane tank for home slightly more complicated. As such, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of owning or renting a propane tank.

A propane tank like this one can either be owned by the homeowner or the propane company. By owning your tank yourself, you have the freedom to choose any supplier you would like. By allowing the propane company to own the tank, you must buy all your propane from that company, but may save a little money up front by not having to purchase a tank.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Propane Tank

Owning a Propane Tank – Pros:

  • Save money in the long run. Buying a propane tank for home gives you the ability to shop around, and make sure you’re getting the best price on propane when you need it.
  • No minimum consumption amounts. Many propane companies have minimum consumption amounts in order to be a customer. If you do not meet these requirements, they will want to charge you exorbitant prices or a propane tank rental fee.
  • You can hide it underground. If you own your propane tank, you have the option of burying it underground. This keeps it out of sight, and unlike a buried oil tank, does not present the same environmental hazard if it leaks.

Owning a Propane Tank – Cons:

  • Higher upfront cost. You may be spending around $1,000 or more to purchase a propane tank up front when you move into your home.
  • Maintenance is on you. When it is your equipment, it is your responsibility. You may have to pay to have the propane tank serviced if there is a leak or any other issue with the tank.

Pros and Cons of Renting a Propane Tank

Renting a Propane Tank – Pros:

  • No upfront cost. Your propane company will usually install a tank for free when you sign up for a delivery contract.
  • No maintenance concerns. It will be the propane provider’s responsibility if the tank need to be repaired or replaced.

Renting a Propane Tank – Cons:

  • More expensive over time. You cannot shop around between propane suppliers to get a better price. It is actually illegal in many states for a propane provider to fill another provider’s tank(s). Even where it’s not illegal, many will not do so out of courtesy to the other company.
  • Minimum annual usage. You must meet certain annual usage amounts to avoid a propane tank rental fee or especially high prices per gallon.
  • No control over pricing. If one supplier is less expensive than your current supplier, you cannot simply switch suppliers for your next propane delivery. Instead, you must wait until your contract is over and then have a new propane tank installed.
When you rent a propane tank, it will often have the propane company’s logo on it, and if you look closely at this particular tank, you will see DO NOT FILL written on it as well. This is to prevent other propane companies from filling these tanks, which would be in violation of the homeowner’s delivery contract. It is actually illegal in some states for one propane provider to fill another provider’s tank(s).

Deciding Whether to Rent or Buy a Propane Tank

There are a few questions to ask when buying a propane tank for home or deciding to rent a propane tank:

  • How long do you plan on staying in the house? If you plan on living in the house for 5 years or more, then it may make sense to spend the money up front for your propane tank(s). When you spread out the up front cost of the propane tanks over that many years, it will pay to own the tanks.
  • How much propane do you plan on using? If you are only using propane for cooking and hot water, then it is probably not worth it to buy the propane tank. If you are using it for heating your house, then it will definitely pay to own the tank yourself.
  • How many propane suppliers are there in your area? If you have many suppliers to choose from, you may want to own the propane tank. This way you can price-shop each time you are low and fill up only as needed. If there is only one or two suppliers in your area, then you may want to stay on their good side and just rent their tank so you can always get filled or serviced.

In sum, whether it makes sense to rent or buy your propane tank depends on your personal situation. If your house comes with a propane tank buried in the ground, this gives you maximum flexibility. You can make sure you are always getting the best deal on propane, and can switch suppliers at any time.

Happy heating,


How Long Do Roth Oil Tanks Last?

side by side roth oil tanks

Spring is finally here, so now is a good time to think about heating system upgrades. If your oil tank is showing signs of rust, it may be time to replace it. A Roth Double-Wall storage tank is one of the best values today, and we talk about its longevity here.

About Roth Fuel Tanks

Roth Double-Wall storage tanks are a unique, European style tank assembly. On the inside is a plastic tank that stores heating oil. This internal tank is encapsulated by a rust-proof aluminum housing. This external tank holds 110% of the plastic tank’s capacity, and is designed to prevent a leak in the event the internal oil tank ruptures.

Roth double-wall storage tanks feature an internal plastic tank and an external aluminum tank for heating oil storage.

Pros and Cons of Roth Double Wall Fuel Tanks

Roth fuel tanks tend to have a love-them or hate-them reputation among HVAC technicians. Here are some of the Pros and Cons of the double wall Roth Fuel Tanks:

Roth Fuel Tank Pros:

  • Small footprint – can be hidden in a closet in a finished basement.
  • Lightweight – easy for one or two technicians to carry into a basement for installation.
  • Rust-free design – plastic internal tank and aluminum external tank will not rust – even if exposed to the elements.
  • Cover for outdoor installations – Roth double wall tanks for outdoor installations feature an angled cover that shields the fittings, gauge, and top of the tank from sun, rain, snow and ice.
  • 30 year warranty – included from the factory.

Cons of the Roth Double Wall Fuel Tank:

  • More expensive – Roth fuel tanks can be 20-40% more expensive than traditional steel tanks.
  • Unfamiliar – many technicians are unfamiliar with Roth oil tanks and are hesitant to install them.
  • Complex installation for twin-tank setups – when installing side-by-side, a very specific procedure must be followed to ensure the tanks will be filled evenly.
  • Limited ports – unlike steel tanks which have a drain port at the bottom, Roth fuel tanks only have openings at the top. As such, the oil lines use one hole, the fill pipe and vent pipe each use one hole, and there is one hole for a gauge. This means that with a Roth tank you must choose to use either a float gauge or a Smart Oil Gauge – you cannot have both.
Roth fuel tank installation can get very complicated when multiple tanks are involved. Also, since there are no fittings on the bottom of the tank, there is only room for one gauge. You can choose to install a float gauge (shown) or a Smart Oil Gauge which will display the level on your smartphone.

How Long Will a Roth Double Wall Fuel Tank Last?

Since Roth has been manufacturing tanks since the early 1970s, they have a good idea of how long they last. Because of the plastic internal tank and durable design, the oil tanks actually come with a limited 30 year warranty. This warranty is only valid for installations done by a certified Roth oil tank installer. With this in mind, we would estimate that Roth double wall fuel tanks last at least 15 years, with many making it past the 30 year mark.

To maximize longevity of your Roth tank, do not store anything on top of the oil tank. This causes the top to bow in, putting stress on the tank and fittings.

If you’re in the market for a new heating oil tank, check out our guide here for choosing a home heating oil tank. And when you’re low on heating oil, check prices here and don’t forget to fill up at a quarter tank!

Happy heating,


What is the Best Oil Tank Monitor?

best oil tank monitor

Keeping track of your heating oil is probably the last thing on your mind these days. With more time spent at home, however, your oil usage may be up this year. In this post we’ll discuss the three most common oil tank gauges: dip sticks, float gauges, and the Smart Oil Gauge®.

Oil Tank Dipstick

The most basic type of heating oil gauge is a dipstick. A dipstick can be used to manually measure how many inches of oil are in a tank. Once you’ve taken this measurement, you can refer to a heating oil tank chart to determine how many gallons are in the fuel oil tank. Dipsticks are most commonly used with below ground tanks, as there is no other way to measure the contents of the tank.

An extendable yard stick like this can be used to measure the level of heating oil in a tank. This is most often used in conjunction with an underground oil tank, as there is often no visual gauge on underground tanks.

Fuel Tank Float Gauge

The second type of gauge is a float gauge. This is the most common type of gauge for above ground tanks. It features a float that sits atop the oil and moves down as the level lowers. This type of fuel oil gauge gives only an approximate oil level in the tank.

A float gauge like this is very common in heating oil tanks. It gives an approximate level of the oil in the tank, but is not very accurate.

Smart Oil Gauge – WiFi Heating Oil Gauge

The most modern style of heating oil gauge is the Smart Oil Gauge. This type of oil tank gauge uses an ultrasonic sensor to precisely measure the oil level. It is extremely accurate except for in the top 8″ of the tank. When the oil is that high in the oil tank, it is too close to the ultrasonic sensor to get a precise reading.

The Smart Oil Gauge is the most versatile heating oil gauge available. It allows for remote access via its app, and even sends low-level text and email alerts.

Which Oil Tank Monitor is the Best?

To compare these oil tank gauges, we looked at four factors: Value, Accuracy, Remote Access, and Ease-of-Use. The dip stick is the most cumbersome to use, so it has the lowest value for money. Furthermore, we gave the float gauge 2 out of 5 points for ‘remote access’ because some folks install WiFi cameras to look at the float gauge remotely.

The Smart Oil Gauge provides the best combination of remote access, ease-of-use, accuracy, and value for money. The float gauge is second, and the dipstick is third.

In sum, the Smart Oil Gauge is by far the best overall heating oil tank monitor available. And the nice thing about the Smart Oil Gauge is that you can still keep the old float gauge in the oil tank. Additionally, if you’d ever like to use a dip stick to verify the tank level, you can do that as well. Just open up a bung on your heating oil tank and insert the dipstick.

Happy heating,


Useful Links:

Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

out of heating oil

If you are getting low on heating oil, you may be wondering if diesel fuel can be used. Good news: diesel fuel and heating oil are nearly identical. In this post we will walk you through when it is appropriate to substitute diesel fuel for heating oil.

Add Diesel Fuel When You are Out Of Heating Oil

If you suddenly find that your house is cold or you have no hot water, you may be out of heating oil. That said, just because you have no heat doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of heating oil. Sometimes a burner simply needs to be reset to be restarted. In other cases, there may be air in the feed lines, or a clogged filter that needs to be replaced.

diesel is a substitute for heating oil
Diesel if a great substitute for heating oil if you are running low on or out of heating oil.

If you suspect you are out of heating oil, there are a few steps you should take:

  1. Verify that you are actually out of heating oil. Do this by checking the float gauge on the tank. Remove the plastic cover and gently lift up on the disc to see if the float is stuck. If it moves freely and the disc sinks to the bottom, you may be out of heating oil. (If you are not out of heating oil, skip to step 4).
  2. Go to the gas station and buy 5 or 10 gallons of diesel fuel. Diesel is a perfectly fine short-term substitute for home heating oil.
  3. Locate your oil tank’s fill pipe on the outside of your house, and remove the cap. Pour the diesel fuel down into the fill pipe so it can enter the tank. Do not attempt to remove a plug from the oil tank in your basement and add the fuel that way.
  4. Wait 5-10 minutes for any sediment to settle back down to the bottom of the tank. Then, press the reset button on your burner to start the system back up. If it does not start up, you may have to bleed the lines to release any air in the system. This can be a messy process, so we do not recommend this if you are not mechanically inclined. For a more detailed action plan if you are out of heating oil, check out this post here.

When You Are Low On Heating Oil

If you are getting low on heating oil, you run the risk of your system shutting down. This is because some tanks cannot use all of the oil in the bottom of the tank. There is sometimes sludge in there, but often time the feed lines come from the top of the tank and simply don’t reach all the way to the bottom.

If you are low on heating oil and cannot get a delivery right away, think about getting some diesel. Your house can use 5-10 gallons of heating oil per day in the cold months. Adding diesel once a day for a few days will certainly help you sleep better until the truck comes!

When adding diesel fuel to your heating oil tank, make sure you locate the fill pipe on the outside of the house. The fill pipe (shown on the right in this picture) will have a hex-shaped fitting on the cap. Remove this fitting and pour in your diesel fuel. The pipe on the left with a mushroom-style cap is the vent pipe. This is where air escapes the tank.

Diesel Is a Great Short-Term Substitute for Heating Oil

If you are worried about running out of heating oil, make sure you order heating oil right away! You can check prices and delivery dates on a site like FuelSnap. Once you’ve ordered heating oil, run to the gas station and buy 5 or 10 gallons of diesel. Diesel is taxed differently than heating oil, so it tends to be more expensive.

That said, the cost of frozen pipes as a result of a runout is far worse! Adding diesel every day or two until you get a fillup should help you avoid a runout. To see how many gallons your house requires on a cold winter day, check out this guide here. Alternatively, consider installing a Smart Oil Gauge. A Smart Oil Gauge will tell you exactly how many gallons per day you are using. It will even give you a countdown of days to 1/4 tank and 1/8 tank.

Happy heating,


Disadvantages of Heating With Propane

propane gas stove

Ever think about making the switch from heating oil to propane? Ten years ago this was touted as a great way to save money. Today, however, this could not be further from the truth. I use both heating oil and propane in my house, and I wanted to share some thoughts about both here. Before you get roped into switching to propane, be sure to be wary of the many disadvantages of heating with propane.

above ground propane storage tank
Heating with propane means having an outdoor tank that is either above ground like this one, or buried beneath the ground. Since these tanks are usually owned by the propane provider, switching providers is very difficult.

Benefits of Propane

Propane is one of the most versatile fuels. If you do not have access to natural gas where you live, propane offers many of the same benefits:

  • Powering a generator.
  • Fueling a gas fireplace.
  • Fueling a gas cooktop.

There are also tasks that can be accomplished by either heating oil or propane, and these include:

  • Heating your house.
  • Heating your hot water.

Since heating oil creates significantly more heat per gallon than propane (you will need 1.35 gallons of propane to create the same heat as 1 gallon of heating oil), you are much better off heating your home with oil. That said, you can still have propane at your house for other purposes, such as a gas fireplace or generator.

Propane Fueled Fireplace
Propane is an extremely versatile fuel. It can be used for ancillary items like fireplaces and stoves, but is a very expensive option for heating a home.

Disadvantages of Propane

While propane is very similar to natural gas, the main difference is that it needs to be delivered. This puts it into the same category as heating oil: fuels that are delivered via truck. That said, there is a big difference between heating oil and propane: with heating oil, the homeowner always owns the tank. With propane, the supplier almost always owns the tank. This leads to some often overlooked disadvantages, including:

Switching propane suppliers is very difficult. This is because 95% of the time the propane company owns the tank on your property – not you! This means that another company cannot fill your tank, even if you wanted them to.

Propane is very difficult to price-compare. Try calling around for a price per gallon for propane. Most dealers will not give this to you – even over the phone. They will ask you a series of questions such as how many gallons you plan on using over the course of the year. With heating oil, there is a very clear market price per gallon. You can use a site like FuelSnap to compare prices for heating oil and order oil online.

Propane is more expensive than heating oil. Not only does propane cost more per gallon than heating oil, you actually need 35% more propane to generate the same amount of heat as heating oil! So if you’re comparing prices of propane and heating oil, multiply the propane price by 1.35 to see how it compares to today’s going rate for heating oil.

What is the Best Fuel Type for Heating Your Home?

If you have access to natural gas where you live, then this is the hands down winner. It is not only very versatile, it is also economical and does not have to be delivered. You simply pay your bill every month as you do your electric bill.

Between heating oil and propane, however, heating oil is far superior. It is not only less expensive, but you have significantly more freedom with heating oil. You can price compare to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and order heating oil online whenever your tank is low.

Furthermore, if you still want to run a gas stove top or fireplace, you can also have propane! Just get a single propane tank for these ancillary uses and you can get the best of both worlds. If you’re still deciding between heating oil and propane, check out this post here for a deeper dive into the topic.

Happy heating,


How to Tell if Your Underground Oil Tank Needs to be Removed

removing buried oil tank

Does your home have a buried heating oil tank? If so, you may consider having it removed at some point. Underground oil tanks could become an environmental hazard if they start to leak. In this post we’ll talk about signs that it’s time to remove and replace your inground heating oil tank.

How to Identify an Underground Heating Oil Tank

If you are new to heating oil, you’ll first want to understand the basics. Oil-heated homes will have a tank somewhere on the property to store heating oil. You will have to order heating oil and fill this tank periodically to maintain your fuel supply.

Tanks are most often above-ground – located in a basement, garage, crawl space, or just outside the house – but occasionally underground. Underground heating oil tanks gained popularity in the 60s, 70s, and 80s as they kept the giant heating oil tank out of sight. However, after many decades in the ground, some started to leak. The resulting environmental hazard led to the removal of these tanks starting in the 90s.

Very few houses built since the 1980s have underground heating oil tanks. Look for one or two pipes sticking out of the ground to identify a buried oil tank.

underground oil tanks will have a fill pipe and a vent pipe coming out of the ground to the surface
Pipes like these that stick out of the ground are a good indication that an underground oil tank is present on the property. The fill pipe (right) allows oil to be pumped into the tank. The vent pipe (left) allows air to escape from the tank while the oil is being added.

Reasons to Remove an Underground Heating Oil Tank

There are a variety of reasons that a heating oil tank should be removed. The most important reason is to prevent a leak. A leak can result in contaminated soil which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to remediate.

  1. The Tank is Over 30 Years Old: If your home has a buried heating oil tank and was built prior to 1990, then your tank is likely over 30 years old. After 30 years, the inner walls of the tank can start to corrode. After a while, the walls are too thin and oil can begin to leak out. While you can have the soil around the tank tested, it is not an easy process. If your tank is over 30 years old, consider having the tank removed or abandoned and replaced with an above ground tank. For assistance choosing a new heating oil tank, check out this post here.
  2. The Tank Is Leaking: Inspecting an underground oil tank is nearly impossible. Catch a leak by keeping close tabs on the amount of heating oil you are using. By tracking your usage, you can tell if you are suddenly going through more heating oil than expected. Track your heating oil usage by taking regular measurements of your tank level using a stick. Refer to a heating oil tank chart to record the level in the tank. Do this weekly to see how quickly the level is declining. Use this guide here for how much oil you should be expecting to burn if there is no leak. Another sign of a leak is your burner shutting down due to water in the oil lines. If the tank is taking in water, then it is likely the oil is also escaping the tank. This could result in an environmental catastrophe.
  3. You Plan on Selling Your Home Soon: Underground heating oil tanks can be a deal-breaker for a new homeowner. In fact, some banks will not mortgage a property with a buried oil tank due to the potential liability. Removing an oil tank and remediating soil are time-consuming and costly. Remove your tank ahead of the sale to eliminate this potential issue.
removing an underground heating oil tank
Consider removing your underground oil storage tank if your house is over 30 years old, you suspect the tank is leaking, or you plan on selling your house soon. The presence of a buried heating oil tank is a turn off to most potential buyers.

Replace Your Heating Oil Tank Before It Leaks

Remove your buried heating oil tank once it gets to the 30 year old mark. After three decades in the soil, it is hard to know the condition of the tank. Hire a reputable tank removal company to remove your buried oil tank. They will not only properly dispose of the old tank, but also test the soil around the tank. This will ensure the ground is not contaminated with oil

Install a new above ground heating oil tank – preferably inside the house. Indoor oil tanks are not subject to the elements and will last much longer than outdoor tanks. Then, all you have to worry about is ordering heating oil online and staying warm.

Happy heating,


How Long Does a Tank of Heating Oil Last?

how long will a tank of heating oil last

It is January, 2021 right now which means heating oil season is in full swing! While you are thinking about when to order heating oil, you may be wondering how long a tank of heating oil lasts. A tank of heating oil lasts as little as a few weeks, and as long as a season; see how long your heating oil will last below!

Heating Oil Tank Size

An obvious factor that will impact how long the tank lasts is the size of the tank. The most common heating oil tank size is 275 gallons. A 275 gallon heating oil tank holds approximately 250 gallons of heating oil when full. The next most common oil tank size is 330 gallons. A 330 gallon fuel oil tank has a nominal capacity of about 300 gallons.

It is also not uncommon for a home to have ‘twin tanks’ where two 275 or two 330 gallon tanks are plumbed together. This gives the homeowner more capacity and the ability to order heating oil less frequently.

Homes with in-ground tanks tend to have 550 gallon, or even 1000 or 2000 gallon tanks! In-ground oil tanks are less and less common and are often replaced with above ground tanks when the house is sold.

This 275 gallon heating oil tank holds 250 gallons of home heating oil and is the most common oil tank size. The 275 gallon oil tank shown measures 5 feet long. The second most common tank is 330 gallons. The 330 gallon tank measures 6 feet long – or one more foot than the 275 gallon tank.

House Size Impacts Heating Oil Usage

Once you’ve determined the size of your heating oil tank, you’ll need to know how much oil your home requires per day to determine how long the oil tank will last. The factors that impact how much heating oil you use are:

  • The size of your house. A 1500 square foot house may use only 500 gallons a year, whereas a 3500 square foot house may use over 1500 gallons per year.
  • The energy-efficiency of your house. A well-insulated 2500 square foot house may use as little as 600 gallons per year, whereas the same size house with poor insulation and drafty windows could use over 1200 gallons per year.
  • The age of your heating system. Well-maintained heating oil systems tend to last much longer than comparable gas systems, often lasting 30 years or longer! While this is great, technology continues to make these systems more efficient. Upgrading to a new oil-fired heating system can reduce heating oil costs by up to 30%.
  • The temperature (both inside and outside). Turning down the thermostat a few degrees is a sure way to reduce your heating oil usage. But a bigger factor is the outdoor temperature. On a 10° day, an average home may use 8-12 gallons of heating oil to keep warm. On a 30° day, the same home may only use 5-7 gallons of heating oil.

Heating Oil Used Per Day

Once you know your home size, you can use the following tables to figure out how much heating oil you will use per day. With this, you can estimate how long your oil tank will last you.

Keep in mind, however, that you do not want to let your tank go completely empty! Always order heating oil when your tank is at around 1/4 full to ensure you do not run out of heating oil.

A 2500 square foot home will use approximately 4-6 gallons a day on a 30 degree winter day.

How Long Will a Tank of Heating Oil Last

There is one more factor that you need to keep in mind to determine how long your tank of heating oil will last you: the reorder point. Just like with a car, it is important that you do not let your tank run completely empty. This will not only cause your burner to shut down, but can cause sludge to get sucked into the lines, clogging the system.

As such, it is highly recommended to order heating oil when your tank is 1/4 full. “Reorder at a quarter” is a good way to remember this.

“Reorder at a quarter” is a good rule of thumb for when to order heating oil. A heating oil tank gauge only provides an approximation of the oil tank level, so it is important to not let the tank run too low. Since a 275 gallon oil tank holds at most 250 gallons, and you should reorder at 1/4 tank (68 gallons), we can take 250-68 = 182 to determine how much heating you can use between fills. 182 gallons, at 5.2 gallons per day, will last for approximately 35 days, or just over one month.

The 1/4 mark on a 275 gallon tank is approximately 68 gallons. Since a 275 only holds 250 gallons when full, this means you have 182 gallons (250 – 68 = 182) of usable heating oil before you need to order heating oil. Look at the table above to determine your average heating oil usage based on recent temperatures, and divide this number into the total number of usable gallons. Example:

  • Home size: 2500 square feet
  • Average temperature since last fill: 30° F
  • Average gallons per day @ 30° F: 5.2 gallons per day
  • Tank size: 275 gallons (holds 250)
  • Reorder point: 1/4 tank or 68 gallons
  • Usable gallons between fills: 250-68 = 182 gallons
  • Number of Days Between Fills: 182 gallons / 5.2 gallons/day = 35 days

With an average outdoor temperature of 30° F, a 275 gallon tank in a 2500 square foot home will last approximately 35 days between fills.

When To Check Your Heating Oil Tank and Order Oil

The last thing you want is to wake up to a freezing cold house in the middle of winter because you ran out of heating oil. If you do run out of heating oil, check out our step-by-step guide here: what to do if you are out of heating oil.

With an old-fashioned float gauge in your tank, we recommend checking the level once a week, or at least once every two weeks during the winter. Set a reminder in your smart phone to go down and check the tank periodically.

Alternatively, you can install a Smart Oil Gauge on your tank, and simply check your heating oil level from your smart phone. Program text and email alerts when your tank gets low, and never worry about heating oil again.

If you are new to heating oil and are wondering how much heating oil your home may use, consider the table below for the expected usage for an average winter in CT.

This chart approximates how many gallons of heating oil a home in CT may expect to use. The energy-efficiency of your home and outside temperature will skew your results to either side of these ranges in a given winter.

Check Heating Oil Prices And Order Heating Oil Online

When your heating oil tank is down to 1/4 full, it is time to order heating oil. Check heating oil prices near me online, and go to a site like FuelSnap to quickly compare heating oil prices between local dealers. Read reviews and order oil online with a credit card. Choose exactly how many gallons of heating oil you need to avoid surprises. And finally, set a reminder to check your tank every week or two to make sure you do not run out of heating oil.

Happy heating,


How To Replace Your Heating Oil Tank Gauge

how to replace an oil tank gauge

Is it hard to tell how much heating oil is in your oil tank? If so, it may be time to replace your oil tank gauge. In this post we’ll walk you through the process of replacing your home heating oil gauge. If you are not handy, or are having any trouble with this process whatsoever, you should definitely contact your oil or HVAC company for this!

Tools Required to Replace Your Oil Tank Gauge

If you’re handy, replacing the gauge on your heating oil tank is not too difficult. The tools required are:

  • Rubber gloves (remember, heating oil stinks, so make sure to wear old clothes too!)
  • Garbage bag
  • 14″ pipe wrench (or bigger) – get it here
  • Pipe dope / thread sealant – get it here
  • Penetrating Oil (e.g. Liquid Wrench) – OPTIONAL – get it here

How Your Float Gauge Works

Before we begin, it is important to understand how a float gauge works. This will aid in removing it so you know what to expect. In a nut shell, there is a floating piece (the ‘float’) – sometimes cork, but more recently plastic – that sits atop the oil. This float sits at the end of a hinged arm. At the other end of the hinged arm is a plastic disc that moves up and down with the float. The disc is housed behind a plastic vial that can be removed by hand. The disc and vial provide a rough indication of the oil level in the fuel oil tank.

The float in a heating oil tank float gauge sits atop the oil and moves down as the level lowers. Over time, this float can get stuck, or even weighed down by sludge. This can cause it to no longer read properly.

What Causes a Broken Float Gauge

Oil tank float gauges are notorious for going bad. They can go bad for a number of reasons. Most often, the float builds up sludge and no longer floats properly as shown below. Also, the thin piece of metal that connects the hinged arm to the disc can be bent. If you’ve ever removed the plastic vial and pushed down on this disc to see if the float gauge was still working, you could have bent the metal in the arm.

Finally, the whole assembly can rotate inside the tank over time, causing the float to get wedged against the inside wall of the tank. When this happens, it will no longer move up or down. Replacing your heating oil tank gauge is the next step at that point.

heating oil float gauge with sludge buildup
Sludge buildup like that shown here can cause a heating oil float gauge to go bad. This is not uncommon on older heating oil tanks. Installing a non-contact ultrasonic gauge such as a Smart Oil Gauge can avoid any sludge issues in the future.

Step 1: Loosen Fitting

Before you can unthread the float gauge assembly, you must begin by loosening it only. First, remove the plastic vial by hand to expose the disc. Second, position the pipe wrench on the metal fitting that threads into the tank. Use both hands and loosen the fitting ONLY SLIGHTLY! You cannot loosen this more than half a turn yet because the float will hit the inside wall of the tank.

Pro Tip: If you cannot loosen the fitting easily, soak it in a penetrating oil such as Liquid Wrench for several hours or up to a couple of days.

Remove the plastic vial by hand so you can access the disc inside of the assembly. This will allow you to manipulate the arm inside the tank in Step 2. Use the pipe wrench to begin to loosen the assembly.

Step 2: Pull Disc Up and Loosen Fitting Completely

Now that the fitting is loose, you will need to use two hands to continue. If you have someone helping you this would be ideal. If not, no big deal – just continue these steps below.

Pull up the disc as far as it will go. This will lift the float out of the oil (see below) and allow you to rotate the assembly. By lifting the float out, the assembly can rotate without the arm crashing into the inside of the tank.

Pull the disc up to lift the float out of the oil before attempting to loosen the fitting completely. Once the disc is up, you can continue unscrewing the float gauge fitting from the tank.

Step 3: Remove the Float Assembly

Once the fitting is completely loose, you can remove the float assembly. Get your paper towels and garbage bag ready for this step!

Release the disc to allow the float to settle back in the tank. Slowly raise the assembly out and allow the float to fall while doing so. This will allow you to remove the whole assembly from the tank. Use the paper towels to catch any dripping oil, and place the whole assembly in the garbage bag immediately.

Step 4: Install Your New Float Gauge

To install a new float gauge, you’ll want to essentially reverse these steps. Begin by cleaning the fitting on the tank, and applying pipe dope to the threads of the new float gauge assembly.

Use a marker on the fitting to indicate the direction that the arm should fall once the assembly is on the tank. You will need to insure that the float can extend into the open area of the tank so the float does not hit the inner wall.

Gently lower the float into the tank until the fitting mates with the tank. Gently lift the disc to raise the float out of the oil, and hand tighten the assembly as far as you can.

Keep lifting the disc up, and tighten with a pipe wrench until snug. Make sure to stop tightening when the arm is oriented properly in the tank. Once tight, hand-tighten the plastic vial in place and you are good to go!

Mark the fitting with a marker to indicate the direction the float arm will extend. Tighten the fitting until this lines up in this direction.

Alternative To A Float Gauge

If you’re unhappy with your heating oil float gauge, or are tired of replacing it over the years, there are better alternatives available. You can consider a Smart Oil Gauge, for instance. The Smart Oil Gauge uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect the level. As such, it is never directly touching the heating oil. This keeps it from getting sludge buildup on it.

The Smart Oil Gauge gets threaded into an extra opening on your tank, and can even be used in addition to a traditional float gauge. Installing a Smart Oil Gauge is much more straightforward as well. Simply apply pipe dope to the threads, and tighten it in with a pipe wrench. Download the app on your phone to connect the device to WiFi beforehand, and then start monitoring your usage remotely. Check out this great installation video if you would like to install a Smart Oil Gauge.

Installing a WiFi heating oil gauge is a much easier alternative to the float gauge. The Smart Oil Gauge uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect the oil level in the tank. You can watch the full installation video here.

Reading Your New Oil Tank Gauge

For some helpful insights into your new float gauge, read our post here on how to read an oil tank gauge. If you went with the Smart Oil Gauge, just make sure you configure it for the proper tank size, and set up your alerts in the app as well. The Smart Oil Gauge can send text and email alerts when the tank is low. This way you will never be caught off guard and run out of heating oil again!

Hopefully this illustrates how to replace your heating oil tank gauge. Remember to check FuelSnap when your tank is low to make sure you’re getting the best deal on home heating oil!

Happy heating,


Why You Should Buy A Home That Uses Heating Oil

Oil-heated homes are among the most popular in the Northeast. While natural gas is more common elsewhere, the age of homes and the rocky ground make pipelines less prevalent here. Heating oil is popular because it is cost-effective, easy to come by, and extremely safe. Read on to learn about the benefits of oil heat!

Introduction to Heating Oil

Heating oil is one of the most popular fuel types in the Northeast. It is stored in an oil tank somewhere on the property, and fed into a boiler or furnace where it is burned and converted to heat. You will mostly likely find the oil tank inside the basement of the house.

However, heating oil tanks can also be found outside the house, in the garage, or even underground. Underground heating oil tanks are less common these days, and are generally undesirable as they could unknowingly start leaking over time.

If you are considering buying a home with an underground oil tank, we recommend removing it and replacing it with an above ground tank. Follow this guide on choosing a new heating oil tank if this is the case.

275 gallon oil tank
An oil-heated home will have a heating oil tank like the one shown here. There is usually one single tank, but occasionally two tanks that are connected. If your home has an underground oil tank, you may consider removing it and installing an above-ground tank like the one shown here.

Heating Oil Delivery

To keep the heat running, you must periodically fill your heating oil tank. We break down the process of filling a heating oil tank in this blog post here. To keep your heating oil tank filled, you must sign up for automatic delivery or plan on ordering heating oil online each time your tank is low. There are pros and cons to automatic delivery which we break down here.

In a nut shell, it is much more cost-effective to only order heating oil as needed. Automatic delivery costs several hundred dollars more per year, and devices like the Smart Oil Gauge make it so this is no longer necessary.

heating oil delivery truck
Heating oil must be periodically delivered to your home. You can elect to sign up for automatic delivery and pay a premium, or buy oil only as needed. Order through a site like FuelSnap to get the best deals on heating oil.

Benefits of Home Heating Oil

There are many benefits to home heating oil, including:

  1. It is safe. Heating oil has a flash point of 140° F. Because of this, it is actually not even flammable at room temperature. This makes it extremely safe, and not something you have to worry about having in your home. To ignite heating oil, you must first preheat it, and then atomize it.
  2. It is efficient. A gallon of heating oil generates 138,500 BTUs per gallon (BTUs are a unit of heat). Since burners tend to be about 85% efficient, this equates to 117,725 effective BTUs per gallon. Propane, on the other hand, only generates 91,500 BTUs per gallon. With a 95% efficiency burner, this equates to only 86,925 effective BTUs per gallon. In sum, it takes 1.35 gallons of propane to generate as much heating as a single gallon of heating oil! Read this post here on what your propane provider won’t tell you if you are thinking about propane.
  3. It is widely available. There are literally thousands of heating oil dealers throughout the Northeast. With a site like FuelSnap, you can compare prices from local dealers, all of which are competing for your business. This ensures you are getting the best price whenever you need to order heating oil. With propane, you will lose the flexibility of shopping around. This is because propane dealers – not the homeowners – own 95% of the propane tanks in the Northeast!
  4. It is cost-effective. Because of its ability to generate so much heat per gallon, heating oil is extremely cost-effective. Oil prices have fallen drastically over the past decade, and as a homeowner you have the ability to price-compare between different suppliers. This competition keeps oil prices as low as possible – so long as you don’t sign up for automatic delivery. If you sign up for automatic delivery, you will be paying more per gallon to get your heating oil from one single supplier. While this is convenient, it costs you a lot of money in the long run. Check out this post here on the pros and cons of automatic heating oil delivery.

Should I Buy a Home with Heating Oil? Yes.

In summary, oil heat is a safe, cost-effective fuel for heating your home. If you are choosing between propane or heating oil, heating oil wins out all day long. If you have the option for natural gas, then we would recommend considering it. Natural gas is not only cost-effective, but you do not have to worry about maintaining your supply.

However, heating oil affords you the ability to choose between suppliers to ensure you are always getting the best price. You can order oil only as needed on a site like FuelSnap where you can comparison shop between dealers. And to make sure you don’t run out of heating oil, install a Smart Oil Gauge to keep an eye on your tank from your phone.

Happy heating,


FuelSnap Mobile App Featured on News12 CT

steve williams of fuelsnap

Last weekend on Small Business Saturday I was able to meet the folks at News12 CT. We had a conversation about FuelSnap and ordering heating oil using the Smart Oil Gauge. Check out the video below!

Smart Oil Gauge allows you to check your heating oil tank from your phone, then reorder through FuelSnap right form an app on your phone. Read the article from News12 CT below for more information.

About FuelSnap

FuelSnap was actually founded by two Ridgefielders – Steve Williams and Joe Mygatt – and has been growing fast thanks to a third former Ridgefielder, Carl Shaw, who manages our dealer onboarding and growth programs. Since launching in 2019, FuelSnap has added nearly 100 oil providers covering over 3,000 zip codes in the Northeast.

The company has expanded in recent months to offer dealers online ordering on their own websites – in addition to FuelSnap. “Heating oil dealers loved our order management software so much, they asked if they could use it for their own sites.” says Carl Shaw. Dealers can enable a Shopify-like experience almost immediately utilizing the company’s ECommerce solutions.

“It’s a low cost option that allows a heating oil dealer to start selling online, without spending thousands of dollars up front on web development” says Shaw.

Contact Information

For questions about FuelSnap: click here or call 203-456-1015.

For questions about Online Ordering or Turn-Key ECommercie sites: click here or call 203-456-1012.