Many homeowners buy heating oil during the off-season when prices are relatively low and store it in their furnace tanks for the winter season. One of the risks of doing this is that the heating oil may freeze and disable the furnace. In today’s post, local air conditioning and heating systems contractor Thomas J. Fannon & Sons takes a look at how you can keep heating oil from freezing.
Why Does Heating Oil Freeze?
Heating oil has a freezing point of 16 degrees, which is lower than that of water at 32 degrees. However, heating oil contains paraffin, which crystallizes at temperatures below 20 degrees. This causes a buildup of wax that will clog and eventually disable the heating system. Fuel tanks located outdoors are more vulnerable to freezing if not properly insulated.
It’s important to note that just because heating oil is frozen doesn’t automatically mean it’s no longer any good. You can store heating oil for up to 24 months without it affecting efficiency or indoor air quality.
How to Keep Heating Oil from Freezing
Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help prevent heating oil from freezing.
Insulate the fuel tank and lines. If your heating oil storage tank and fuel lines aren’t insulated, adding insulation to them can help keep heating oil temperatures above freezing.
Choose a blended heating oil. Not all heating oils are the same. Some blended heating oils have lower clouding and freezing points than others, which can help solve fuel freezing problems. However, fuels should not be mixed together when transitioning from one type to another: ask your heating technician how to do this properly.
Try to keep the entire heating system indoors. Some heating systems have their fuel storage tanks located outdoors. If you have the option to make changes to your furnace — or if you’re getting a new one for your home — try to keep everything inside. The insulation in your exterior walls can help keep thermal loss to a minimum. Alternatively, you and your heating technician can design and built an insulated shelter for your heating oil storage tank.