Recently, we wrote about the importance of keeping your heating oil tank at least half full , even in the offseason (if your tank is near empty, now is the perfect time for a heating oil delivery). If you follow that advice, your heating oil will likely sit idle in the tank for at least four or five months while you wait for temperatures to drop again here in the Hudson Valley.
The question is, will using heating oil that isn’t “fresh” harm your heating equipment?
The short answer is no: No. 2 heating oil has a typical shelf life of just under two years – a wide enough window to cover heating oil you purchased during the previous heating season.
If your heating oil is getting close to that age – say, for example, if you own a vacation or second home that you don’t use every year, or use only during the summer – you can still use the heating oil, although it probably won’t produce as much heat as “fresh” oil.
If the oil is so old that it can’t burn hot enough to reach your furnace’s minimum temperature range, your furnace will automatically shut off; if that happens, you will need to hire a professional to restart your system. If you know for certain that oil has been sitting in your tank for more than two years, it’s probably better to have your tank professionally drained and refilled.
Of course it’s important to keep in mind is that two years is simply an average shelf life for No. 2 heating oil. Several factors can raise or lower that number, including:
Starting out with quality oil helps, too – a big reason to get your heating oil from us rather than an unknown discount supplier.
The bottom line: if you get your fuel from a qualified heating oil supplier, properly maintain your heating system, and haven’t left your heating oil sitting unused for years, you should be in good shape when it comes time to run your heating system next heating season.