Are you moving into a home that has an oil heating system? Are you unfamiliar with how an oil furnace actually works and what you need to do to maintain it? The following information will give you a basic understanding of your heating oil-based system, so you can maximize its efficiency and keep it in peak operating condition throughout the long, cold winter.
How Does an Oil Furnace Work?
The heating cycle for an oil-fired furnace begins when the thermostat senses a drop in the temperature and the need to generate heat. This causes the activation of the burner motor that pulls heating oil from a storage tank. The tank may be located aboveground on the inside or outside of your home, or possibly buried underneath the ground. The oil is combined with the appropriate amount of air while an ignition transformer simultaneously generates a spark. The oil breaks up and vaporizes as it passes through a nozzle, which enables it to be ignited by the spark.
After a brief delay to allow the heat exchanger to warm up, the furnace’s blower motor draws in air that is heated as it passes over the heat exchanger. The heated air is then sent through a duct system, which distributes it throughout your home. Once your home reaches the desired temperature, the burner motor is de-energized and the flow of heating oil ceases.
Keeping the Oil Tank Filled Throughout the Winter
If you’re used to a natural gas-based heating system, perhaps the biggest adjustment you’ll face is the need to keep the oil storage tank properly filled. As a general rule, you can expect to burn about three gallons of heating oil per day (100 gallons per month) during the peak winter months of December, January and February. This typically equals the total amount that is required to heat your home for the rest of the year. Knowing the capacity of your oil tank is an important factor when determining how often you can expect to refill it. If you have a 275-gallon storage tank, for instance, you’ll likely need to refill your tank at least once during the winter.
Many homeowners are turning to an auto-fill service to ensure they don’t run out of heating oil in the middle of winter. An auto-fill system involves the use of sophisticated computer software that allows your heating oil provider to track your fuel consumption and more accurately predict when a tank refill is required. This prevents you from having to constantly monitor your tank gauges to determine how much fuel you have on hand. You also won’t have to worry about the need for rush deliveries – and the additional costs that come with them.
Oil Furnace MaintenanceThere are several key oil furnace maintenance steps that are necessary to keep your unit operating properly. Your heating oil provider should dispatch a technician to your home on an annual basis to check the unit’s fan belt, lubricate the blower motor fittings and clean the burner muzzle. You should also perform preventative maintenance steps on your own. These include:
• Checking for signs of black soot, which indicates that your furnace is burning too much oil
• Removing dust from around your furnace
• Changing the air filter as often as recommended by the manufacturer
Contact Smart Touch Energy for more valuable oil furnace ownership information.