How to Avoid Running Out of Heating Oil During Winter

oil tank on patio

While running out of heating oil at any time of year can be a stressful experience, doing so in the depths of winter, there really couldn’t be a more inopportune moment to find your tank empty. But what do you do if your heating oil reserves run dry around the Christmas period? 

Panicking might be the first thought, but that certainly isn’t going to resolve the issue. The first thing to do is to check that your tank is definitely empty. For safety reasons, in the majority of cases, your heating system should automatically cut off if it runs out of oil, so the signs will be clear enough.

Next, it’s time to contact your heating oil supplier and organise the soonest available fuel delivery, thus minimizing the time spent without a heating system.

While these reactive steps might seem obvious, the most useful advice we can offer is to put in preventative measures to avoid the situation altogether.

Avoid letting your tank run dry

While there are no safety concerns to worry about, as your oil system is designed to switch off if your oil runs out, getting to the point where your tank is completely empty is something to avoid—particularly during the colder months. What’s more, an emergency fuel delivery can often end up costing you more in the long-run, so it’s not a situation you’ll want to find yourself in.

The main concern is that running your oil tank dry can severely damage your heating system. Dirt and residue can amalgamate at the bottom of your tank, particularly if it’s at the end of its life cycle. If the fuel container runs dry, this detritus can be drawn into the heating system—which will often require a maintenance visit from a qualified technician and a re-filling of your oil tank.

Prevention is the key, and the most effective method of ensuring you don’t run out of oil is to put in place some preemptive measures. Let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take.

bunded oil tank

Understanding your tank capacity

If you’ve just moved into a property, and you’re dealing with a new tank, or you’ve just had a new oil tank installed, this might take an element of practice and experience to get used to. But it’s a smart move to understand the capacity of your tank, and how long an oil delivery—whether a half or a full tank—will last in normal circumstances. 

This could simply be a case of scribbling a note on the calendar of your last delivery,  making adjustments depending on the season, and tracking the lifespan of your fuel. You’ll find this will become a more accurate estimation the longer you’ve lived in a property and you’ve got to grips with the capacity of your tank.

Set reminders to check your oil levels

To avoid putting yourself in the perilous position of having no heating during the holiday season, a smart move is to set a regular reminder, either on your smart device or simply making a note in your calendar, to check the oil levels. Even the most diligent and organised among us can forget to make oil checks, and weeks can quickly turn into months between inspections.

This isn’t such an issue during the warmer months when your heating is largely off, but during the winter, your fuel consumption will be much higher, so it’s best to keep a close eye on how much you're using. During the cold season, we’d recommend checking your levels once every two weeks.

Install a digital monitoring system in your oil tank

Another surefire method of avoiding an oil shortage in the winter months is to install a digital monitoring system. As the name suggests, these infinitely handy tools remotely check your oil levels and relay the information back to you in seconds. 

With a digital monitoring device, you can keep a vigilant eye on your levels without ever having to physically inspect the tank; and some of the more sophisticated systems will alert you if the levels are running dangerously low—or, in the case of a leak, if they drop suddenly.

How can CT Tanks help?

Running out of oil during the winter can be a worrying experience. If you'd like to discuss the possibility of installing are larger oil tank on your property, or for any oil tank installations enquiries in general, please don't hesitate to get in touch. CT Tanks is here to keep you warm and safe this Christmas.

Posted on December 7th 2022

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