Home heating oil technology has made significant advancements over the years. Heating oil is now considered to be as clean and efficient as any other fuel source. A properly maintained oil furnace will not produce any visible smoke or noxious fumes. Many home energy experts also view heating oil as the safest means of keeping a home warm. There is little risk of explosion and no worries that the furnace will become hot enough to cause a fire.
The key to ensuring safe operation of an oil heating system is proper and timely preventative maintenance. A team approach to maintenance works best: have your heating oil provider perform an annual inspection to detect signs of trouble, and be vigilant for oil leaks that are the telltale sign of damage.
Annual Cleaning and Maintenance
During an annual inspection, your service technician will thoroughly clean the unit to remove the dust and debris that accumulates over the course of the year. Your tech will also perform a series of troubleshooting steps to detect and remedy any potential safety issues. One of the most important elements of any annual inspection is verifying that all built-in safety controls are functioning properly.
Oil Storage Tank Safety
If you’re looking to install a home heating oil system, be sure to choose one that features a storage tank with a built-in alarm. The alarm is typically in the form of a whistle that alerts the tech if the tank has been overfilled. This helps to minimize spills and leaks.
What Should You Do If You Spot an Oil Leak?
Make periodic visual inspections of your oil storage tank to look for pools of oil that indicate a leak. If your tank is located indoors, do your best to keep the oil from entering the floor drains or sump pump areas. Call your heating oil provider immediately, so it can dispatch a tech to your home to properly clean up the oil spill. You should also avoid attempting to repair a leak on your own.
What Are the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas that can be produced by the incomplete combustion of heating oil. If your oil furnace is producing black smoke or soot, you should call your fuel oil provider right away — this is a sign your unit is not functioning properly and the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning exists.
You should also look for the telltale symptoms of CO poisoning such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. While instances of oil heating system-induced carbon monoxide poisoning are rare, installing a carbon monoxide detector will give you additional protection and peace of mind.