What To Do If You Run Out of Heating Oil

If you wake up one morning during the summer with no hot water, or in the middle of the winter season with no heat, you might have run out of heating oil! Don’t freak out, there are plenty of steps you can take to to fix this and you’ll have heat and hot water in now time! In this article, we will go over several steps to ensure that you get your heat and hot water back on as soon as possible!

In this article, we’ll cover the following process if you’ve run out of oil:

  1. Make sure that you’re definitely out of heating oil.
  2. Schedule an Oil Delivery! Call your local dealer, or order from our FuelSnap website!
  3. Put 5 to 10 gallons of diesel fuel into your oil tank. This will hold you over until your delivery arrives
  4. Give your burner a quick restart by pressing the restart button

Make Sure that You are Definitely out of Heating Oil

There are numerous different reasonings for a failure in your home’s heating oil system. Because of this, running out of fuel isn’t always the reason. If you are suspicious that you are out of oil, head down to your tank to check.

A majority of fuel tanks are supplied with a float gauge. This particular gauge uses a bobber that measures the level of oil in your tank. It normally gives a general indication of how much oil is in your tank. Inside the float’s clear top, you should see a colorful disc. Unscrew the gauge’s clear top, and take a look at the disc. Gently press on it to see how it reacts. If the disc slowly returns to normal, you likely have oil in your tank. Alternatively, if the disc doesn’t return to normal, then you are likely out of oil. If you do in fact have oil in your tank, you can skip to step 4.

This is an example of what the float gauge looks like. The little disc indicates what the tank’s estimated oil level is. However, sometimes the float can get bogged down by sludge, resulting in inaccurate readings.

Schedule an Oil Delivery

After you’ve determined that you have no oil in the tank, it is important that you order oil as soon as possible! You can access pricing and local dealers in your area from our FuelSnap website. By typing in your zip code, you’ll be able to see what your local dealers are charging for oil. Additionally, our oil delivery service doesn’t charge any emergency fees! So you can order whenever you are running low and a local dealer will come deliver based upon their availability!

After you’ve placed an order on FuelSnap, you will receive a confirmation email. The confirmation email contains useful information such as the dealer’s number, the order receipt and even the estimated delivery time! If you want an exact date or time, feel free to contact the dealer! They’ll be able to give you an estimated time of when they will come deliver!

Add 5 to 10 Gallons of Diesel into your Tank

When you run out of oil, you can always head to the gas station and pick up some diesel. This is because diesel and heating oil are nearly identical (despite some dye being added to heating oil). Although it should only be used temporarily, your heating oil system will be able to burn diesel fuel just fine!

Start off by buying a yellow jug from your local gas station. Fill up the jug with about 5 to 10 gallons of diesel fuel. This should get you through the night and keep you warm. If you need to go back to the gas station the next day to get more, then that’s perfectly fine! We recommend getting around 10 gallons just to be on the safe side!

Remember, diesel fuel can be used in an emergency situation. However, as a long term solution to heating oil it is ineffective.

Give Your Burner a Quick Restart

Finally, it is best to check your oil burner. The reason for this is because the issue might not be in your tank but in your burner. If you have oil in your tank and you wake up to a cold house, you likely have a problem with your heating system. Sometimes a faulty starter can cause your burner to turn off, even if you have oil in your tank. Alternatively, you can also have a clog in your feed lines that could be preventing your furnace from taking oil from your tank.

If you had to put diesel fuel into your tank, then it is best to restart your burner ASAP. This is because your furnace was deprived of fuel oil and needs to be reset. In the system shown in the below image, you will see the reset button. Press the burners reset button and after about fifteen seconds or so, you should hear the system kick on. It will either stay on, or turn back off.

If it turns back off, you will need to bleed some air out of the lines (Do not Attempt this if you are not mechanically proficient. It is best to contact an HVAC technician). After bleeding the lines, press the reset button one more time to see if that keeps it going. Don’t press the reset button more than 2 to 3 times. If at this point your system isn’t turning back on, you will need to contact an HVAC technician to examine your burner.

Checking your Burner is very important in ensuring that your furnace is working as intended! Press the reset button if you need to reset it!


Running out of heating oil is not enjoyable by any means. In a best case-scenario you will simply need to order oil and run out to the gas station to grab some diesel. If you go to our FuelSnap website, you can order oil straight from there! We offer fast delivery and the lowest prices in your area guaranteed!

However, you could be a part of the unfortunate few where the issue lies within the burner. The burner could’ve sucked up some sludge which could be causing a clog. Or you could be experiencing an issue with the furnace itself. If this is your situation, contact an HVAC technician as soon as possible!

The best way to prevent this in the future is with the purchase of a Smart Oil Gauge! The smart oil gauge will take an accurate reading of your tank’s level and it will upload that to our servers! You’ll see the current reading of your tank’s oil level and this can be accessed from anywhere. You’ll even receive push notifications, emails and text messages to ensure you know your tanks level! The Smart Oil Gauge app even allows you to order from our FuelSnap website right through the app! With the use of the smart oil gauge, you’ll be able to order oil before you run out!

Happy Heating,