Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

image of a diesel gas pump used as a home heating oil alternative

For those who live in Hartford County, Connecticut, cold weather during the winter months is the norm. However, even if you’ve lived in Connecticut your entire life, the unexpected can occur. Perhaps one unexpected event that everyone hopes to avoid is running short on home heating oil. Fortunately, most heating oil delivery services have standard turnaround times of about three business days – and there are even some oil delivery companies in the region, like Miller Oil Company, who can provide same-day service when necessary. However, all of this depends on a variety of factors, such as the severity of the road conditions and weather. There are times when heating oil alternatives come in handy.

With families at home and unpredictable storms, there are times when waiting for a last-minute fuel delivery just isn’t feasible. At these times, diesel fuel is one possible alternative that can help keep your home warm – but this isn’t a simple fill-and-go solution. Following is everything you should know before you start using diesel in your home’s heating oil tank.

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Is It Safe to Add Diesel to My Home’s Heating Oil Tank?

Continue reading to learn more about what you can do if you happen to run out of fuel this winter season.

Perform a Heating Oil Tank Inspection

granby steel oil tankOne major drawback of diesel is the fact that it’s subject to different taxes than home heating oil is and thus, it is a bit more costly. You want to take a minute to verify that you really do need an alternative heating fuel like diesel by performing a tank inspection before you actually make this switch.

One very common way to inspect the level of oil in your fuel oil tank is by looking at its float gauge. This is a gauge that you’ll find floating at the top of the oil, and it indicates how empty or full your tank happens to be. To make sure that the heating oil tank float is supplying an accurate reading, open and remove its plastic cover and then use one of your hands to push it down. If there is oil in your tank, your gauge will return right back to its regular position at the top of the oil. If it stays submerged, you need a refill.

There are also ways to manually check your tank’s oil levels, such as by inserting a yardstick into the tank’s fill tube. Every tank, depending upon how large or small it is, has its own critical level or the level at which new fuel must be added right away. Find out what your tank’s critical level is by consulting with the manufacturer. Our suggestion is to place an order for refill service when your tank is about 1/3 or 1/4 of the way full.

If you’ve run out of oil, you should go ahead and use diesel as a short-term solution. If you don’t, let sediment fall down to the tank bottom and then reset the burner to fire it up. There are times when it’s necessary to bleed the lines of air before restarting a tank. This is a bit of a messy process, and it’s also very involved, so we suggest having a professional bleed the lines for you if this is the route you choose to take.

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The Drawbacks of Letting Your Heating Oil Tank Run Low

image of a homeowner in front of radiator depicting running out of heating oil

Having your heating system shut down completely is the biggest risk in allowing your heating oil to run to low levels, but you’d probably be surprised by just how fast this can happen. With most heating oil tanks, the furnace or boiler will stop working at a critical level which is well before all of your heating oil is actually gone.

There are a number of reasons why a shutdown might occur, and one of these is the buildup of sediment at the bottom of your heating oil tank. Build-ups of sediment are a common issue among tanks that aren’t well-maintained and regularly cleaned.

There are also a number of tans with feed lines that travel from their tops down to their base. If these lines don’t completely reach tank bottoms, it’s possible to run out even before the fuel is empty.

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The Safety of Using Diesel as an Alternative to Heating Oil

image of a paper cut family depicting heating fuel oil safety

Once you know that your tank is at a critical level or absolutely out of heating oil, you can begin using diesel as a short-term replacement. Diesel is an excellent alternative to heating oil, but it is only acceptable for limited use. The best choice is always heating oil, and this is why.

Apart from costing quite a bit more, diesel burns at higher heat than heating oil does. This isn’t a big deal when you use it for a short span of time (such as a few days), but as time goes on, it can start causing potentially permanent damage to your heating system due to the higher temperatures that your heater is being subjected to. If you use about five to ten gallons of this alternative fuel each day and for just a few days, your tank should be able to maintain its longevity.

The overall amount of diesel used is dependent upon the length of time you’ll have to wait before your heating oil is delivered. The maximum amount that you should use is just 10 gallons per day.

When you handle diesel, it’s important to use containers that are designed specifically for this fuel – these would be yellow containers – and to make sure that your diesel is correctly labeled. Even though this is just a short-term solution, diesel can be stored away for up to six months before it becomes unstable and unusable. Additives can be put in to make your diesel stores last a bit longer, but there are drawbacks and limitations to these products, so it’s better to limit how long you keep this fuel on the shelf instead.

If you can’t find any other way to use your leftover diesel once your heating oil tank has been refilled, your local municipality should have recommendations for nearby recycling centers, hazardous waste centers, or other approved disposal methods.

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Filling Your Tank Up With Diesel

Once you’ve used your labeled yellow containers to pick diesel up, you can go ahead and refill your tank.

  • Shut your heating system off: The first thing to do is to make sure that the entire system is completely shut down. The thermostat will let you do this.
  • Put the diesel in: Once you’ve shut the system off, add as much diesel as you need (up to 10 gallons). You can mix your diesel with any heating oil that remains in the tank – this is actually best because having some oil in your tank means that it wasn’t absolutely empty. If the tank is completely empty, it may be necessary to bleed out the air from its lines and make sure that there isn’t any sludge in the oil pump, the nozzle, or the fuel tank filter. If you can’t deal with these issues, make sure that you check and refill an empty tank before it’s completely dry to sidestep all of the extra hassles.
  • Let the Diesel Settle: After you’ve filled your tank, leave everything idle for about 10 minutes so that the impurities and sediment can drift down to the bottom of the tank.
  • Turn Your System On: Fire your heating system back up. Now, you’ll have plenty of heat in your home until your refill arrives and you go back to using heating oil.
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Schedule Emergency Heating Oil Delivery Service With Miller Oil Company

Oil Delivery Truck

If you have low levels of fuel in your tank and aren’t able to take advantage of alternatives, count on Miller Oil Company. Miller Oil Company is proud to provide service to residents of Hartford County, Connecticut, including emergency heating oil services that keep locals from running out of this important fuel right when they need it. Call us for emergency heating oil delivery if you need an ultra-rapid solution. We can usually make it to homes within just 24 hours so that you can avoid using diesel for heat for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

To avoid having an empty tank in the future and to get your home heating oil at a deeply discounted rate, set up automatic refill services to keep your tank consistently full and your maintenance needs minimal.

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Call Miller Oil Company For All Of Your Home Comfort Requirements

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Miller Oil Company provides the best cooling and heating services in Hartford County, Connecticut. We employ top HVAC technicians who are certified and offer superior HVAC installations, repairs, tune-ups, and replacements. Every one of our knowledgeable technicians has the experience to correctly service your HVAC.

By working with Miller Oil Company, you will receive the best service costs for cooling and heating in the region. With our repair and maintenance services, you will find that your comfort and energy efficiency are improved, and your home cooling and heating costs are reduced. If you require a replacement HVAC unit, we can suggest the most appropriate model for your house that is within your budget. We include a satisfaction guarantee for all of our work. Click the link to view our service area.

We also offer superior heating oil deliveries. You can choose from one of our oil delivery plans or financing options. This way, you can customize your oil deliveries to meet your needs. We use high-quality oil, and all of our deliveries are fast and reliable. Give Miller Oil Company a call today to learn more.

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