Heating oil tanks are pretty simple devices that require minimal maintenance to keep running at their best – but they do require you to do two things if you want them to run safely and reliably year after year.
The first and most obvious of those two things is to have your tank inspected every year – something that a quality heating oil contractor will do as part of your heating equipment’s annual maintenance. The second thing is a little less obvious: keep it at least half full at all times, including during the offseason.
Why is it important to keep at least some heating oil in your tank? Simple: a tank that contains more air than fuel will accumulate condensation (water) on its interior walls quickly as temperatures change from season to season.
This condensation creates two problems for your heating oil tank: first, it encourages bacteria growth in your fuel, which will eventually transform your heating oil into a thick sludge that will jam your fuel lines and rob your system of efficiency. Second, condensation will eventually drop from the tank walls and sink to the bottom of your tank (since water is heavier than oil), corroding it from the inside out. When a tank decays this way, you won’t see a failure coming until it’s too late.
Condensation doesn’t play well with a steel-walled heating oil tank, and keeping your tank at least half full can help prevent it. Top off your tank now and it could prevent problems down the road. It could save you money, too, since pre-season heating oil prices are often lower than in-season prices, when heating oil demand and market prices are highest.