Questions On Oil Fired Heaters For Residences

Hello:
My present home in New England has gas forced hot water heat, and a separate gas fired tank heater. Pretty conventional setup.
Looking at new houses, and see some oil fired heating arrangements, which I'm not too familiar with.
Would like to ask:
a. What are the pros and cons of an oil fired furnace for a home compared to gas ?
b. Potential oil tank (in basement) leak something to be worried about ? -how long do the tanks "typically" last ?
c. What type of heater do most folks with oil fired furnaces use for their hot water ?
d. Relative to (c) above, I saw one house with an electric hot water tank. What are the pros and cons of this type of system ? Besides from a "technical" viewpoint, are they (much) more expensive to operate ?
Anything else I should be asking ?
Much thanks, Bob
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If yo have a gas line near the house, I'd prefer it. Gas usually has lower mainenance and less cleaning. In my case, I'd have to spend about $30,000 to have the gas line extended to my house.

Tanks last many, many years. I know of many that are 50+ years and never had a problem.

Probably most have an itegral heater. It makes all the hot water that I ever needed. I don't think it is the most efficient method though. There are add on heaters and the like. Amtrol used to make one but I never check it out.

More expensive that other fuels. Slow recovery if you h ave a big family, you need a big h eater.

Beats me, but probably. I'd not avoid a house with oil heat if all the other factors of the house worked. Millions of people use oil with no serious concerns. The cost of energy is climbing in any fuel and it seems they are tying the gas and oil prices to come up pretty close in most areas. Ed
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Bob,
Well you're probably gonna get a lot of opinions on this, but let me give you my two cents as a New Englander with experience with a variety of systems...
"Pros" of oil vs. gas: if gas is not available in the neighborhood, or can't be brought to the house for whatever reason (rock ledge in the way, etc.), oil will do a much better job of heating ;^)
Seriously, oil and gas are pretty much comparable, and in both cases your experience will depend a lot on the quality of the equipment and how it's maintained. Oil systems tend to be slightly noisier and require a little more maintenance but having owned both I've never found it to be a problem. Cost-wise in the long term they're pretty much equivalent. Gas and oil prices both fluctuate, so gas may be cheaper this year and oil next year. If your home is inaccessible for whatever reason (dirt road, steep hill), there's a possiblity the oil truck might have trouble getting there during a snowstorm, but that's an extreme case.
Oil tank leaks do happen but they're rare, as long as the tank is inside the house. Some (mostly older) homes have the tank outdoors, where condensation is more of a problem and the tank is more likely to rust. You definitely do NOT want an underground tank - it can be an environmental nightmare if they leak. The house I grew up in (in eastern MA) was built in the 1940's, and still has the (indoor) tank it was built with - never had a problem. Same for my grandmother's house which was built in the late 30's.
As far as hot water, you typically have 3 choices with gas and 4 with oil. With gas heat, you can have electric H2O, gas, or some type of unit that piggybacks on the home's heating system (some of these have external tanks, some don't). With oil heat, you have the same 3 options plus the option of an oil-fired water heater. My personal choice, in order of preference, would be standalone gas (quiet, cheap to run, moderate $ to buy/replace), standalone electric (quiet, more $ to run but less $ to buy or replace), standalone oil-fired (noisier, very expensive to buy/replace, cheap to run, lots of output), or a unit piggybacked to the home heating system (typically with hot water heat). Other people probably have different experiences, but every home I've lived in with a piggyback unit has had insufficient hot water. Plus it requires you to run the heating system all summer.
Eric Law

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In 1971 I purchased a house where the indoor oil tank had been "patched" on the outside by gluing a steel plate lined with rubber to the bottom to deal with the rust that happened when water condensed in the tank during humid summers and sank to the bottom of the tank. I had a new tank installed in 1972.
In 1988 I moved to a house built circa 1955 which had an underground oil tank. I finally got that tank "abandoned in place" in August 2004. [It was not practical to pull the tank because the back hoe to be used to pull it out might have damaged my house or the next door neighbor's.]
The environmental services guy who looked at it to propose on the removal / abandonment problem told me that sometimes a ten year old tank is rusted out when pulled and sometimes a fifty year old tank looks as good as new when pulled. It seems to depend on luck, soil conditions and possibly the amount of electricity running through the tank on its way to "ground."
Robert11 wrote:

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Robert11 wrote:

same amount of heat (Caveat: the oil companies say that) If oil and gas prices suddenly go up, the oil left in your tank will stay at the same price you last paid. Fuel oil is usually cheaper if bought in the summer than the winter. You can have any oil company fill your tank, thereby being able to select the cheapest supplier. Since the oil is stored in a tank on your property, someone digging up a gas line somewhere else won't affect you.
Cons - You have to have a tank installed. Here in NY, new tanks have to be installed above ground (ugly) or in the basement (space wasting). Unless you have automatic delivery, you have to check the oil level occasionally. If you run out, you will have to wait for a delivery. If lucky, you may get a delivery the same, or next, day. If an emergency delivery, such as on a Holiday or weekend, you may have to pay more for the fuel oil. Kerosene can be used in an emergency, if you can find any.
When I bought this house, it had a oil furnace that heated the water for both heat and washing. Since there was no storage tank of any great size for the hot water, it was produced, more or less, as it was needed. Apparently, the furnace thought that only one person would be taking a shower in the morning, rather than the four we have here. It didn't take long before I installed a separate 40 gal propane fired water heater. The only utilities I get from the street, or more specifically, a pole, are electric, telephone and cable. I house the water, oil, propane, and septic system components.

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Glad you brought that up. Buying fromt he lowes seller is good in many cases, but recenly, I've done beter with a full service company and a locked in price. Last year I could h ave bought oil at about 95 in the summer, but found it cheaper to pay $1.14. Why? The 95 dealer was $1.95 to $2.05 in the coldest part of the winter, but I still paid the $1.14 for the season as I was locked in by contract.
Many full service dealers have better service for regular cu stoerms I.e>, no overtime chareges if you need service after hours. They will also fill you up if you run out at any time.
Of course, the best deal this year may not be next year. You have options, so look at them all to see what suites you best.
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