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Just How Safe Is Heating Oil?

Heating oil safe fuel

When it comes to keeping your house warm, heating oil is the BTU king, providing more heat per volume of fuel than any other option. But how does heating oil stack up to other fuels when it comes to safety?

Actually, it tops the charts there, too.

That safety starts with fuel itself: heating oil simply will not burn at temperatures you would normally find in your home. To ignite, heating oil must first be heated to a temperature of 140 degrees, then vaporized under controlled conditions – which is exactly what happens inside your boiler or furnace. If you dropped a lit match into a bucket of room temperature heating oil (don’t try this at home, or anywhere else), it would simply go out as if you dropped it in water. Contrast this with natural gas, which can explode under normal household conditions in the presence of a leak.

Maintenance is a safety key
Just as with any other home energy source, the key to keeping your oil heating system operating safely is to get it serviced by a professional every year. During an annual tune-up, a service technician will test your equipment to spot potential safety or performance issues, which he can usually take care of on the spot.

Leaks are disappearing thanks to modern tanks
Another safety improvement in heating oil today comes modern double-walled tank designs, which typically have a plastic or fiberglass inner lining that virtually eliminates oil leaks. Although old steel tanks were sturdy, they could corrode from the inside – failing or leaking with little warning to the homeowner.

Exhaust problems are easier to spot
Although both oil and gas combustion produce carbon monoxide (CO), heating oil holds a big advantage when it comes to CO detection: if an oil burner is malfunctioning, it will produce smoke as a warning sign that a CO is being released. A gas burner, on the other hand, simply emits the dangerous gas when it is not working properly.

If your oil furnace is producing black smoke or soot, contact a technician for service right away — this is a sign your equipment is not functioning properly and the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning exists.  It’s also critical to have tested and working carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and to know the telltale symptoms of CO poisoning, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.

Heating oil – the best and safest way to heat your Sullivan County home! Contact us today to become a Resnick Energy customer and keep the reliable heating oil deliveries coming all fall and winter long.