Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?
When you live in northeastern Pennsylvania, you know how cold winters are. However, even the seasoned Pennsylvania homeowner may experience temporary setbacks during winter. The one we all hope to avoid is our heating oil tank running out of fuel. The good news is that you can have heating oil delivered within a few business days, with some local oil distributors offering faster turnaround times like same-day oil delivery. However, this service depends on the weather (whether it’s summer or winter), road conditions, and other circumstances. As a result, there may be times when you need to go for heating oil alternatives.
The cold, unpredictable weather and keeping your family safe means you don’t have the time to wait. You will need a way to keep warm. For times such as these, diesel fuel may be the alternative you require for warmth. However, using diesel is not as simple as fill-and-go. Read on to learn all you need to know before you put diesel into your heating oil tank.
Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?
This article includes a comprehensive guide on what you can do if you find that you run out of fuel in the middle of winter.
Check Your Heating Oil Tank
One of diesel’s largest drawbacks is that it is taxed differently compared to heating oil. Unfortunately, it is more expensive. Therefore, make sure you actually require an alternative to heating oil. To do this, inspect your oil tank before switching to diesel temporarily.
The usual method to check your system’s oil level is to look at the floating oil tank gauge. It floats on oil, so you can determine how full or empty your home fuel oil tank is. Check the float’s accuracy by removing its plastic cover and pushing it down with your hand. The gauge will bounce back to its original position if your tank has the proper oil level. If it stays down, it means the tank ran out of oil.
You can check the oil level on your own. To do this, put a yardstick down the tank’s fill tube. Depending on the size, each tank has varying critical levels on when to add fuel. Verify your tank’s critical level with its manufacturer. It is recommended that you order a refill when your tank is one-third to one-quarter full.
If you run out of oil, you may want to fill your tank with some diesel as a bandaid fix. If not, let the sediment go to the tank’s bottom and reset the burner to start it. Some cases require bleeding the line, so the air caught in the system is released. Doing so may be necessary for the system to restart. It can be a messy and very involved process, so it is best to ask for professional assistance if you choose to go through this route.
Dangers of Running Low on Home Heating Oil
A heating system shutdown is the biggest danger linked with having low oil levels. You may be unaware of how fast this issue can happen. In most tanks, the system will shut down when the fuel reaches the critical level and before your tank fully runs out of heating oil.
A system shutdown can have many causes, including sediment accumulation in the bottom of the tank. Sediment buildup can be a common issue for tanks that do not receive proper attention.
Moreover, many tanks have feed lines running downward from the top of the tank. If the pipes do not reach the bottom, your tank may have run out of fuel before it is fully emptied.
Diesel as a Heating Fuel Alternative: Safety & Uses
You can start using diesel when you are sure that your tank is out of heating oil or is at least below the critical level. Diesel is an excellent fuel alternative for oil-heat users. However, only use it as a temporary solution because heating oil is always a better option.
Apart from the higher price per gallon, diesel burns hotter than conventional heating fuel oil. It isn’t a major issue when used in short increments, such as a few days at a time. However, it can result in lasting damage to your heating unit as it wasn’t designed to bear higher temperatures. Using 5 to 10 gallons of diesel fuel per day for several days should be able to safeguard the longevity of your tank.
How much diesel you will use depends on how long it will be until you receive a heating fuel refill. You shouldn’t need more than 10 gallons per day.
Make sure that you keep diesel in yellow-colored containers and label it. It may be a temporary solution, but diesel fuel is safe for six months at a time before it degrades and is unsafe to use. Additives can help prolong the diesel’s life, but they come with limitations and necessary treatments. Therefore, it is inadvisable to keep diesel stored for too long.
If you don’t need your diesel fuel after using it in your heating oil tank, contact your local municipality for proper disposal through hazardous waste collection centers or recycling centers.
How to Use Diesel Fuel in Your Home Heating Oil Tank
After filling up your correctly marked yellow containers with diesel, you can now fill your tank. Here’s how:
- Turn the heating system off: Ensure that the heating system is completely off. Do this using its thermostat control.
- Add the fuel: Add up to 10 gallons (or more if needed) of diesel into the tank. You can mix the leftover fuel with the diesel. This is a good move, as it means you didn’t run the tank completely dry. Otherwise, you may need to do line bleeding for air to make sure that the nozzle, oil pump, and filters are sludge-free. If you are unsure how to do this, ensuring that your tank doesn’t run dry will save you time and additional steps.
- Wait for the settling: After filling the tank, let it sit for 10 minutes. This lets the impurities and sediments settle at the bottom.
- Turn the heating system back on: Restart your heating system. You will have home heating as normal until you can start using heating oil again.
Get Emergency Fuel Delivery With R.F. Ohl
Call R.F. Ohl if your oil level is low and you don’t have a heating oil alternative on hand. Our company proudly provides emergency oil services to the Poconos and the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, so that homeowners do not have to worry about running out of oil in the middle of winter. Contact us when you need emergency oil services. Our emergency oil deliveries can usually service your home in 24 hours or less, making sure that you do not have to depend on diesel for home heating longer than necessary. Call R.F. Ohl today!