In a recent blog, we talked about the importance of keeping your heating oil tank at least half full throughout the year. If you follow that advice, your heating oil will likely sit idle in the tank for at least four or five months while you wait for temperatures to drop here in the Hudson Valley.
The question is, is it OK to use that “old” heating oil to heat your home?
The short answer is yes: No. 2 heating oil (which most people use to heat their home) has a typical shelf life of just under two years – a wide enough window to cover heating oil you purchased during the previous heating season.
If your heating oil is nearing that age – say, for example, if you own a second home that you don’t visit every year, or only visit during the summer – you can still use the heating oil, although it probably won’t produce as much heat as “fresh” oil.
If the oil is so old that it can’t burn hot enough to reach your furnace’s minimum temperature range, your furnace will automatically shut off; if that happens, you will need to hire a heating professional to restart your system. If you know that oil has been sitting in your tank for more than two years, it’s probably better to err on the side of caution and have your tank professionally drained and refilled.
Of course it’s important to keep in mind is that two years is simply an average shelf life for No. 2 heating oil. Several factors can raise or lower that number, including:
Starting out with quality oil helps, too – a big reason to get your heating oil from us rather than an unknown discount supplier.
The bottom line: if you get your fuel from a qualified heating oil supplier, properly maintain your heating system, and haven’t left your heating oil sitting unused for years, you should be in good shape when it comes time to run your heating system next heating season.