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 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 Storage 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 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 Storage Tanks

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

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 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:

  • More expensive – Roth tanks can be 20-40% more expensive than traditional steel tanks.
  • Unfamiliar – many technicians are unfamiliar with Roth 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 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 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 smart phone.

How Long Will a Roth 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 tanks actually come with a limited 30 year warranty. This warranty is only valid for installations done by a certified Roth installer. With this in mind, we would estimate that Roth 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 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,

Steve

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, you oil usage may be up this year. In this post we’ll discuss the three most common tank gauges: dip sticks, float gauges, and the Smart Oil Gauge®.

Oil Tank Dip Stick

The most basic type of heating oil gauge is a dip stick. A dip stick 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 tank. Dip sticks 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.

Heating Oil 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 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 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. Further, 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 dip stick 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 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 dip stick.

Happy heating,

Steve

Useful Links:

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,

Steve

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,

Steve

How To Replace Your 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 for a new gauge. In this post we’ll walk you through 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,

Steve

Automatic Delivery vs. Will-Call: Home Heating Oil Pros and Cons

275 gallon heating oil tank

If you’re new to home heating oil, the first decision you’ll have to make is: should I sign up for automatic home heating oil delivery? Automatic delivery means you sign an agreement with a single heating oil company for the year. This agreement says you will buy all your heating oil for the whole season from them, and they will automatically deliver it to you. This sounds like a great idea on the surface, but there is a major cost to this which we will touch on below.

The alternative to automatic home heating oil delivery is being a ‘will-call’ customer: someone who only orders heating oil as needed. There are pros and cons to each, and we’ll break them down in this post.

Automatic delivery means all your heating oil will come from one heating oil supplier. You will pay a premium for this but will not have to worry about ordering oil. You can save money by being a ‘will-call’ customer and only ordering heating oil as needed, but you have to make sure you know when to order heating oil.

Heating Oil Basics

Unlike natural gas or electricity, you must have heating oil periodically delivered to your home. Before you order heating oil for the first time, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with these terms:

  • Automatic Delivery: An agreement, usually for one year, that a heating oil company will delivery all the necessary heating oil to you on their own schedule. The dealer uses a system called ‘Degree Days’ to estimate when you’ll need oil next. The system uses outside temperature and delivery history to estimate your tank level. Expect to pay a premium price for heating oil to receive automatic delivery.
  • Will-Call: The alternative to automatic delivery, wherein you simply order heating oil as needed. By being a will-call customer, you can take advantage of significantly lower prices for heating oil. The downside is you must monitor your own oil tank. When you’re low, just check heating oil prices and order heating oil online with a credit card.
  • Service Contract: A maintenance plan that provides 24/7 support if a heating system fails during the winter. This is sometimes included ‘free’ with automatic delivery, but be wary of this. You are likely paying an extra dollar per gallon of heating oil to pay for this ‘free’ service contract. This adds up to $800 – $1000 per year on an average home in the Northeast! There are many reputable service companies that will service your system in the event of an emergency. Further, you should learn to inspect your own oil tank as well.
  • Budget Payment Plan: A payment agreement with the heating oil company that spreads out your total heating oil spend over 9, 10, or even 12 months. This helps eliminate very large bills during peak heating season by spreading the bills out over many months. This is the most profitable type of customer for the oil heating company, as they can charge extremely high heating oil prices without the homeowner noticing.
  • Fixed-Price Agreement: An agreement when signing up for automatic home heating oil delivery that you will pay a fixed-price for heating oil that season. This helps protect against major price increases that may occur. It comes at a cost, however: usually 20 cents per gallon for your estimated usage. Also, you may pay above-market prices if the prices fall during the season, as happened in 2020.
  • Price-Cap: A price-cap plan is an agreement that your heating oil price fluctuates with the market price but will not exceed a certain price. Many homeowners fall for the price-cap agreement, as they believe there is no downside to it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! This is because when the market price for oil lowers, the oil company is under no obligation to lower their price accordingly They may lower it only slightly, for instance. So while you may be protected if the price for oil skyrockets, you’ll be left paying extra if the price drops. This played out in early 2020 when oil prices fell by over 50% and folks on automatic delivery did not even see their price budge at all.

How to Choose Between Automatic Oil Delivery and Will-Call

Historically, those were the two options: pay a premium for automatic delivery or run down to the oil tank periodically as a ‘will-call’ customer. Automatic delivery was obviously much more convenient than running down to the basement, so fuel oil dealers could charge a huge premium for this service. Even today, fuel oil dealers are charging an average of 40-50 cents per gallon for automatic home heating oil delivery, with some charging more than a dollar extra per gallon! Be careful to not get lured in by a ‘first fill’ price of $1.49 to sign up for automatic delivery. The price ALWAYS goes up after that.

To avoid over-paying for heating oil, will-call is the next option. To be a will-call customer, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with checking your heating oil tank gauge. For a detailed explanation read how to check your heating oil tank gauge. Remember, running out of heating oil can be very costly, so don’t forget to check that oil tank!

To be a will-call customer, you must remember to periodically check the gauge on your heating oil tank. This type of float gauge will give an approximate indication of how much oil is in your heating oil tank.

Fortunately, these are no longer your only two options. There is now a third option, which brings the cost-savings of being a will-call customer together with the peace of mind of automatic delivery: a Smart Oil Gauge. The Smart Oil Gauge is a WiFi heating oil tank gauge. It tells you on your phone how much heating oil is in the tank. It will alert you when your tank is low and it’s time to order oil. You can even order heating oil right from the app.

The Smart Oil Gauge provides the peace of mind of automatic home heating oil delivery and enables homeowners to realize the tremendous savings of being a will-call customer. It screws into the top of the heating oil tank and uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect the tank level. The level is reported to an app where it also displays daily usage and gives a countdown to the next fill. The Smart Oil Gauge will even send text and e-mail alerts when it’s time to order oil

What is the Best Option for Heating Oil Delivery?

So what’s best? We rate the three options below.

While automatic delivery is more convenient than will-call, it is much more expensive. The average homeowner pays 40-50 cents per gallon more to be on automatic delivery. This equates to $300-500 more per year for the average home in the Northeast. Since the homeowner is locked in with a single heating oil dealer, flexibility is low. And there is still a risk of running out of heating oil when on automatic delivery, so you won’t get the same peace of mind that you will get with a Smart Oil Gauge.

3rd Place: Automatic Home Heating Oil Delivery

We recommend automatic delivery for folks who just don’t want to think about heating oil. Sign up at the beginning of the season, and then get a bill every month for your deliveries. This is an expensive option, but if money is no object then we recommend it. You may also prefer a budget payment plan which spreads out your payments over the course of the season. This is usually only possible with automatic delivery. But remember, you pay much more over the course of the season for this benefit.

There is still a risk of runout with automatic delivery. So, ask your heating oil company to install an oil tank monitor, or buy your own to make sure you don’t run out.

2nd Place: Will-Call

Will-call will save you hundreds of dollars per year, and thousands over the long-term. That said, those savings can be wiped away if you run out of oil when you’re away from home. Frozen pipes can lead to a catastrophe that costs tens of thousands to repair.

If your oil tank is in a convenient location, however, will-call may be the way to go. You’ll have total flexibility when it comes to choosing a supplier. And you can shop around for the best price for heating oil whenever you are low. Just don’t forget to check the tank!

1st Place: Will-Call with a Smart Oil Gauge

If you want to save money on heating oil, go with will-call, and invest in a Smart Oil Gauge. For around $150 a Smart Oil Gauge will give you even more peace of mind than automatic delivery. It will tell you how much oil is in the tank, and alert you when it’s time to order heating oil.

Within the app, you can even check heating oil prices near me and order heating oil online in seconds. Pay with a credit card and take advantage of will-call pricing right through the app.

What about a Service Contract?

Some dealers will insist that you MUST be on automatic delivery for them to provide a service contract. If that’s your dealer, we recommend finding a new one! There are plenty of dealers who offer service contracts and do not require automatic delivery. DollarWise Oil is one of these companies that offers various maintenance options. Ryan Anthony’s Heating Service Inc. is another one – they offer maintenance plans and do not even sell heating oil! So next time a heating oil dealer tells you that you have to buy all your heating oil from them if you want a service contract, find another company!

Save Money And Only Order Heating Oil As Needed

With today’s technology, you can now take advantage of the lowest pricing possible by only ordering heating oil as needed. Get the peace of mind of automatic delivery by installing a Smart Oil Gauge to keep an eye on the tank level. Configure your alerts so you know when the tank is low. And when it’s time to order heating oil, come back to FuelSnap and get the best heating oil prices possible.

Happy heating,

Steve

When to Order Fuel Oil

when to order fuel oil

Ordering home heating oil can be a daunting task. Choosing a home heating oil dealer and deciding how much oil to order are two important questions to consider. But another important question that comes up is when to order fuel oil. In this blog post we’ll talk about the right time to order heating oil online.

Home Heating Oil Basics

If your home is heated with fuel oil, there are a few things to be aware of. First, your home will have an oil tank to store the heating oil. This tank will be in the basement, garage, outside the house, or even in the ground. Check out this blog post here to learn how a heating oil tank works.

To maintain a consistent supply of home heating oil, you will have to order oil. A truck will come and deliver a specific number of gallons to your tank. Alternatively, you can order a ‘fill’ and the truck will fill the oil tank to its capacity.

When to Order Heating Oil

When deciding when to order home heating oil, there are a couple of factors to consider. First, you do not want to run out of heating oil. Second, you want to get the best price for heating oil.

Avoid Running Out of Heating Oil

If you are out of heating oil right now, check out this blog post here for what to do. Fortunately, you can add diesel from the local gas station to get you through the night.

To avoid running out of heating oil, we recommend reordering heating oil when your oil tank is at a quarter full. This is true whether it is the summer or winter. Heating oil prices tend to not fluctuate too widely throughout the season. Most home heating oil dealers work on a target ‘cents per gallon’ margin which does not often change throughout the year.

“Reorder at a quarter” is a great rule to live by.

The reason to not let your tank get down past 1/4 full is occasionally it can take a few days before your heating oil is delivered. A quarter tank is usually enough to hold you over. Since a typical heating oil tank holds 275 gallons of oil, a quarter of a tank is approximately 70 gallons. A typical house burns approximately 3-5 gallons per day in the winter, so this gives you a cushion to prevent a runout.

Reorder heating oil when your tank gets to 1/4 full to avoid a runout and make sure you get the best deal on heating oil. Order oil online through FuelSnap to compare prices and choose the best delivery date.

Order Heating Oil Online To Get The Best Price

Ordering heating oil online when your tank is at 1/4 full has another benefit as well. This leaves enough space in the tank for a 150 gallon delivery. Most oil dealers require a minimum delivery size of 100 gallons. Some even give a price break for 150 gallons. If your dealer gives a price break for 200 gallons, you will have to let your tank get down to 1/8 full. Check our tank charts here to see how low your oil tank must get for a 200 gallon delivery.

When you order heating oil online through FuelSnap you can not only compare prices, but also delivery dates. If you can wait a few days for your home heating oil delivery, you may get a better price for heating oil. Searching for heating oil near me will bring up multiple sites. Check FuelSnap to easily compare several dealers and order heating oil online.

Check Your Heating Oil Tank Gauge And Reorder Oil At A Quarter Full

Make sure you learn how to check your float gauge and avoid running out of heating oil. Order heating oil online when your gauge reads one quarter full. And if you want to make sure you do not run out again, consider getting a Smart Oil Gauge for your tank. The Smart Oil Gauge gives you a readout of your oil level on your smart phone. It will send you text and email alerts when the tank is low as well.

Happy heating,

Steve

How Accurate Is An Oil Tank Gauge?

heating oil tank gauge

Heating oil tanks have remained virtually unchanged for decades. And unfortunately, so have the gauges inside them! The most basic type of oil tank gauge, which most heating oil tanks have, is called a float gauge. Float gauges notoriously go bad over time, and in this post we will talk about the accuracy of a heating oil tank gauge.

How a Float Gauge Works

A float gauge is a very simple mechanism that is mounted in the top of a heating oil tank. It features a plastic sight at the top, with a disc inside to indicate the level. This disc is attached to an articulating arm with a hinge in the middle. At the other end of the arm is the float itself. While the floats were originally made of cork, they are now usually a plastic material that lasts longer.

As the level of oil lowers, the float lowers with it, and the disc is lowered accordingly.

Most oil tanks feature a float gauge like the one shown above. The float only provides an approximate oil level.

How To Read a Float Gauge

The disc in the plastic sight on a float gauge indicates an approximate level. The key word here is approximate. A float gauge is not a precision instrument.

When reading a float gauge, you will need to know what size oil tank you have. Most oil tanks are 275 or 330 gallons and look like the one pictured below.

Tip: A 275 gallon fuel oil tank measures five feet long, while a 330 tank measures 6 feet long.

Once you know your tank size, you’ll have to determine what your float gauge is reading. The levels are primarily fractions of a tank: 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, or Full. Refer to our heating oil tank charts to determine how many gallons are in the tank.

To be safe, always reorder home heating oil at a quarter (of a tank) when using a float gauge!

The disc shown above indicates roughly how much fuel oil is in the oil tank. Once you know the approximate level, check our oil tank chart to determine the number of gallons.

How Accurate is the Float Gauge?

Unfortunately, a float type gauge is not a very accurate device. There are two main reasons for this.

Float Gauges Go Bad Over Time

After many years sitting in heating oil, the float can actually build up sludge over time. This float below was removed after it was no longer working properly.

Furthermore, the float gauge can occasionally end up getting stuck. If the gauge rotates at all in its fitting, the float arm will get stuck against the side of the oil tank, causing the level to not change.

This is what the float on a heating oil float gauge looks like after years in an oil tank. For this reason, float gauges cannot be counted on to provide an accurate oil level.

Float Gauges Do Not Account For the Actual Tank Geometry

Since float gauges simply work by having the arm go up and down, they do not take into account the curvature of the oil tank. In the middle of the fuel oil tank, the walls are straight up and down. As such, there is significantly more oil than in the bottom section of the oil tank where the walls curve in (see below). When an oil tank gauge reads 1/4 or below, the level will suddenly start lowering more quickly without warning.

An oil tank float gauge does not account for the rounded bottom of a tank. There is much less oil in the bottom 8″ of the tank than elsewhere in the tank. So how can we properly track our oil tanks’ heating oil level if the float gauges go bad over time and do not account for the oil tank geometry?

A More Accurate Heating Oil Tank Gauge

Fortunately for heating oil users, there is a more reliable oil tank gauge available now. The Smart Oil Gauge uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect the oil level in the tank. It also knows the exact geometry of the oil tank – including the rounded edges! As such, it outputs a specific number of gallons remaining instead of just an approximate level.

Smart Oil Gauge uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect the level of oil in the tank. Because it does not come in contact with the oil itself, it does not get sludge built up and lose accuracy the way a traditional float gauge does.

Smart Oil Gauge Tracks Gallons Per Day

Because the Smart Oil Gauge records readings all throughout the day, you can get a handle on exactly how much home heating oil you are using. Some of the useful statistics it will provide are:

  • Current oil usage (gallons per hour and gallons per day)
  • Days until you will be at 1/4 tank
  • Days to 1/8 tank
  • Total gallons used (per day, week, month, or year)
  • How much home heating oil can be delivered to your oil tank
Smart Oil Gauge outputs a specific number of gallons in the oil tank. It also tracks consumption so you can see exactly when you need to order home heating oil next.

Track Your Monthly Usage, And Reorder Heating Oil Online Quickly

With the Smart Oil Gauge, you can track exactly how much heating oil you are using. The app ties directly to FuelSnap so you are able to shop for heating oil online as soon as you are low. This information will allow you to schedule your home heating oil delivery around your own needs.

With a Smart Oil Gauge installed, you can watch how quickly you are consuming heating oil, and order heating oil online in seconds with FuelSnap.

An Accurate Heating Oil Gauge

While a float gauge is not very accurate, a Smart Oil Gauge is. The one limitation to the Smart Oil Gauge is that it cannot give a precise reading in the top 8″ of the oil tank. This is because the oil is too close to the sensor when the oil tank is topped off.

Below that top 8″ mark, however, and the Smart Oil Gauge is extremely reliable. And if you would still like a visual oil tank gauge, you can often leave the float gauge installed as well. The Smart Oil Gauge would go in an extra opening on the tank. Knowing how to read a heating oil tank gauge is undoubtedly important, but with Smart Oil Gauge you can view your oil tank level on your phone!

I use my Smart Oil Gauge to make sure I only order oil when I need it. I can watch prices periodically, and then order heating oil online through FuelSnap using my saved credit card when I’m ready. It really doesn’t get any more convenient than that, and I never have to worry about how much heating oil is in my oil tank.

Happy heating,

Steve

Is Home Heating Oil Safe?

flammable sign

While heating oil is one of the most popular sources for fuel in the northeast, it is also one of the safest. And did you know that heating oil is not even flammable at room temperature? In this post we’ll walk through how heating oil works, and what makes it one of the safest ways to heat your home.

How Home Heating Oil Works

Heating oil, sometimes referred to as fuel oil, is stored in an oil tank at home that is connected your heating system. This fuel oil tank is typically in the basement or garage, but occasionally can be found outside the home or underground. A heating oil truck must come on occasion and refill the heating oil tank to make sure the system always has heating oil when called for.

The heating oil is drawn from the tank by a pump in the burner – or occasionally by gravity – to the burner itself. Once there, the ignitions process takes place as follows:

  1. Heating oil is drawn from the tank through an oil filter to filter out any particulates or contaminants.
  2. The burner preheats the oil and activates a fan that mixes in air to help ignite the fuel.
  3. The heating oil then passes through a nozzle where it is atomized (turned into a fine mist), heated further, and ignited to create a flame.
  4. A sensor inside the system confirms that ignition has occurred, and the system continues to burn heating oil until a thermostat inside the unit tells it to stop.

Is Heating Oil Safe?

Since heating oil must be atomized and heated to 140° F before it can be ignited, it is considered extremely safe. In fact, if you were to drop a match into a bucket of heating oil, the match would simply go out (don’t try this at home though – as heating oil stinks!). This is because heating oil is not flammable in liquid form.

Check Your Heating Oil Tank for Safe Operation

The main thing to watch out for if your home is heated with oil is that it is properly stored in a secure heating oil tank. If your tank is underground and over 30 years old, we recommend removing it from the ground and installing a tank (or tanks) inside your home. This will prevent an environmental hazard that could result of an underground heating oil tank begins to leak.

If your house has an above-ground heating oil tank, then we recommend following our step-by-step guide for inspecting your heating oil tank here.

Happy heating,

Steve

How to Inspect a Home Heating Oil Tank and What to Look For

As a good practice, we recommend inspecting your home heating oil tank at least once per year. In fact, many home heating oil companies will require an in-person oil tank inspection prior to your first home heating oil delivery. While the inspection only takes a few minutes, there are some important things to look for while inspecting your home’s oil tank. We’ll break them down below!

How to Inspect Above-Ground Heating Oil Tanks

While there are still many homes with in-ground heating oil tanks, there is really no way to inspect those oil tanks since they are out of sight. If your oil tank is above-ground though, it is important to check its condition periodically. Heating oil tanks – also known as fuel oil tanks – are typically steel and oval-shaped. Below is a common Granby 275 gallon steel oil tank. This is by far the most commonly installed heating oil tank in the Northeast US. Below are the six things to look for when inspecting a tank such as this.

A home heating oil tank such as this should be inspected at least once a year. It is important to check for leaks and replace an oil tank before it shows significant signs of aging. This will help to prevent an oil leak inside the house. Find your model heating oil tank here.

Step 1 – Inspect the Oil Tank for a Solid Base & Footing

Ensuring the floor that the oil tank is sitting on is solid is a crucial step. Even in a basement, the ground can settle over time which could create issues with your oil tank. All four legs of the oil tank should be inspected to ensure they are rust-free and providing good support. A home heating oil tank with 250 gallons of oil weighs over 2000 pounds! This is as much as a small car, so it is critical that those oil tank feet are on stable ground.

Inspecting the base and footing is even more important on an outdoor oil tank. The oil tank should be sitting on a single, uniform concrete slab. It is not acceptable to have each leg of the tank on a separate cinder block, for instance, as one could shift and cause the whole tank to lean. This can cause the fitting to bend at the bottom of the tank, causing a catastrophic spill.

Step 2 – Check your Oil Tank for Rust Free Seams

The perimeter and sides of a steel oil tank are welded together. Because of the potential for imperfections in the welded area, these seams should be inspected for rust. Once they begin to rust, oil can start slowly leaking out of your tank. Look for any signs of leakage on or around the seams of the oil tank.

Step 3 – Look for Leaks at the Bottom of the Oil Tank

Similar to the seams, the bottom of the home heating oil tank tends to be susceptible to corrosion from the inside out. This is because certain blends of home heating oil are hygroscopic, meaning they absorb water. Water can lead to corrosion inside the fuel oil tank and eventually that corrosion leads to small holes along the bottom of the tank. Check to make sure the bottom of the fuel oil tank shows no signs of leaks. Also pay close attention to the fitting where the oil comes out at the tank. This fitting is where the oil line meets the tank, so it is important that it is secured and free from leaks.

Step 4 – Look for Leaks at the Oil Line and by Following the Line to the Burner

The oil line itself can be prone to leaks, believe it or not. This is why modern oil lines are actually copper that is coated in plastic for one extra layer of protection. Check the oil line for leaks, and be sure to follow the line all the way to the your oil burner (furnace or boiler).

Step 5 – Check for Leaks at the Oil Filter

The oil filter is what the heating oil passes through on its way to the fuel oil tank. This is often found close to the oil tank, but is occasionally found alongside the burner as well. Since these are changed periodically, it is important to check them on an annual basis to make sure they are clean.

Step 6 – Scan for Leaks at the Top of the Fuel Oil Tank

While leaks at the top may seem less important than leaks at the bottom, it is still important to make note of them. Look to see if any oil has dripped from around the fittings at the top of the fuel oil tank. If you see oil there, it could mean that the oil tank has been overfilled before. Overfilling a tank can have major consequences, as the oil can spill out of those fittings and into the basement. In addition, oil can even make its way all the way out of the vent pipe and end up in the soil outside. If the fuel oil tank shows evidence of having been over-filled, then you may need a new vent alarm/whistle.

The vent alarm makes a sound as the oil tank is being filled. The driver listens for this sound when filling your home heating oil tank. Once the oil rises to about 7″ from the top of the tank, it touches the whistle, muffling the sound. The driver hears the whistle stop and shuts off the pump. If the whistle is not functioning, most dealers will not fill your home heating oil tank, as it could result in the tank being overfilled.

This vent alarm is installed where the vent pipe meets the oil tank. As oil enters the tank, air escapes through the vent pipe and passes by this whistle, making a sound that the driver hears. Once the oil level rises and touches the bottom of the whistle, it stops making noise, signaling the driver to stop pumping. If you see evidence of heating oil around the top fittings on a tank, it could mean that there’s a problem with the whistle that has led to the fuel oil tank being overfilled in the past.

Remember to Inspect Your Heating Oil Tank Annually

Inspecting your oil tank at least once a year will give you peace of mind and help prevent an oil leak. If you find that your tank is showing signs of aging and needs to be replaced, then we recommend checking out our guide here on choosing a new oil tank. An oil tank can last up to 30 years, but a leak inside or outside your home can be devastating. Follow this guide once a year and you should be able to sleep well at night!

Happy heating,

Steve

p.s. A great way to avoid over filling your fuel oil tank is by always knowing how much oil is in your tank. With Smart Oil Gauge, you can check your phone anytime and anywhere to find out how much oil you have. This way you can tell your heating oil company exactly how much you need.