How many gallons of heating oil should I be going through a month? I
filled up my tank on November 7th and my gauge stopped working so I'm
not sure when to request a refill. Knocking on the sides of the tank
makes it seem like it's well below half - maybe even a quarter full.
Should I have used that much in two months? I'm in CT and it's been a
very mild winter (70 degrees on Saturday). My oil burner is an
effecient 7 year old McClain and I live in a fairly insulated 1300 sq
ft Cape Cod. My oil heats my house and hot water (hot water is one of
those mini tanks that connects to the oil burner that automatically
heats water on demand), my stove is electric. Anyone is a similar
situation care to share with me their fillup averages?
Just buy a new tank gauge, they aren't expensive perhaps $30. They are
also easy to replace if they are separate, if it's the combined gauge
and breather Y fitting, just get the standalone gauge and install in on
one of the other tank top openings (usually four) and ignore the old
Unless you jump to the lowest price at the moment each fill up, just
have the oil company put you on scheduled delivery and you won't have to
worry. The first few times they'll come extra early to insure you don't
run out, and based on the degree days and the gallons in each delivery
the software they use will calculate a proper fill interval for you and
adjust it as needed based on the weather. It works very well.
I tried to replace the tank gauge. I think this tank is about 50 years
old and the gauge started to fall apart when I tried to twist it. It
also looks like there is some kind of grey sealant that has welded
itself to the threads over the years. There are no other available
holes on the top of the tank. There is one where the oil comes in and
another where it goes out. The tank was inspected when I bought the
house and was declared in good shape. As far as buying oil is concerned
I was offered a plan in the fall but the prices were too high back then
- about $2.70 per gallon so I have been buying the oil from a
wholesaler for $1.99 but he doesn't do schedules and you have to call
him to fill up. I'm just wondering if every two months is about
standard. The last thing I want to do is run out and have my pipes
I'm just wondering if every two months is about
Depends on how well your home maintains the heat...insulation, etc. My
past home in Upstate, NY which was a cape about 50 years old, I was
filling up every month in the winter which got to be pretty expensive.
With The home I have now, a ranch around 25 years old, I am filling up
about 4 times/year.....which is quite a difference. The home now
maintains the heat VERY well.
Does your cape have insulation on the attic floor? If planning on
stsying there for a long while, might want to think sealing your home
nice and tight. Probably pay for itself with that amount of fuel.
I would not mess with any tank fittings,
including the gage port,if it won't come out easily.
This may sound a bit extreme, but I would wire
a clock (old time one with hands that go 'round :-)
directly to the burner motor.
This will let you keep a total of the burner
running time and, knowing the nozzle size,
the total consumption in gallons.
You may not have to pull the burner out to
find the nozzle size. See if there is an old nozzle
laying about or repair slip which gives it.
My 27 year old Carrier has the proper nozzle size listed on a spec
plate just inside the cover. Almost every guy who serviced the
furnace used the listed size (but one guy didn't. I wish I'd paid more
You simply can't go by a number of days between fill ups since your
consumption is not a constant.
The software the oil companies use takes heating degree days into
account along with your past usage to determine a gallons to degree day
ratio for your account. By tracking the degree days since your last fill
up and knowing the size of your tank the software schedules the next
delivery. I'm not aware of any similar tracking software for home use.
Have the tank gauge replaced when you have your burner's next annual
service. It shouldn't add much to the cost of the service call if you
tell them in advance so they have the part with them.
As for checking the level now, if there are no other ports on the top of
the tank you can use you won't be able to get an accurate reading
You may be able to use one of the stick on level gauges intended for LP
tanks to get a decent reading. They only cover a short range so you'd
want to stick it to a fairly low point on the tank, perhaps 1/4 of the
way up the end. These gauges are basically liquid crystal thermometers.
The way they work is you pour a little hot water on the gauge which
causes it to change color. In a few seconds it starts to change back as
it cools. Since the tank surface that is in contact with liquid inside
will cool more rapidly you will see that area change back first
indicating the approximate liquid level.
The LP gauges work reasonably well on steel LP tanks so they should work
ok on a steel oil tank. They are also cheap so it's worth a shot since
your other option is to tap the tank and try to find the liquid level.
For backup against having your pipes freeze, you can get two 5 gal cans
of diesel fuel to keep as a reserve. Diesel fuel and home heating fuel
are basically the same other than red dye in the untaxed heating fuel.
Heating fuel is also known as "off road diesel" and frequently used for
construction equipment that is only operated off road and not subject to
transportation fuel taxes. 10 gal would be enough to keep you going
until a next day oil delivery.
Even 5 gallons will do you for most likely 24 hours, but for it to be any
good to you you'll need to know how to 'prime' the line to the burner to get
the furnace started again assuming you ran completely out. It will also
depend on your heating/insulation/outside temperature as stated previously.
Take note as well that storing diesel for an extended period is not really
recommended, it has a shorter shelf life then gasoline AFAIK, so if you go
with that plan rotate your can(s) every couple of weeks. Personally I'd
just call the repair guy and have the furnace cleaned and the gauge changed,
especially if you have now somehow broken a seal on the tank threads.
If by "falling apart" you're stating that the gauge no longer tightly
seals the opening it's screwed into, then your tank is in violation of
fire codes and you really ought to do something about it ASAP.
Not that fuel oil vapors are anywhere near as dangerous as gasoline, but
if the tank is inside and that cheapo dealer you're buying from happens
to overfill the tank, some of the excess fuel oil will end up coming out
of the broken gauge instead of it all going outside through the vent pipe.
Do yourself and anyone else living there with you a favor and get that
gauge replaced by someone who can do the job right. You've already
announced to the world on this newsgroup what you did to that gauge, if
the place burned down your insurer might just learn about what you did,
because old newsgroup posts never really die. Stranger things have happened.
One of the risks assumed by the insurer is that of loss caused by non
criminal actions of the homeowner. Trying to remove a failed oil level
gauge and giving up is not a criminal action except perhaps in the
socialist republics of California and Massachusetts, so you're still
covered. Whether you get renewed is another matter...
I defer to your superior knowledge of the intricacies of the insurance
business Pete. But....
My being a "Native Son of the Golden State (California) who has also
lived in Massachusetts for the past 54 years gives me reason to believe
that you've got it backwards. <G>
I'd 'spect that the looney left in those two states firmly believes that
no one should bear any responsibility for their own actions, even if
they've been told that they might have created a hazardous situation by
someone (me) who was for 13 years the CE of a company which manufactured
275 gallon tank gauges and lots of other fuel oil delivery hardware.
Liberals will always believe that you can pick up a turd by its clean end.
The loony left are also the only ones who think you're a criminal if you
have any technical knowledge and repair / maintain anything yourself. If
they know how to use tools they might make weapons and overthrow us...
I gotta come clean and tell the truth. I swiped that from a tag/sig line
used by a guy named Gunner, a frequent poster to rec.crafts.metalworking.
To quote him fully:
A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical liberal minority and
rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth
the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the
don't worry the seal is still intact, what I meant was the edges of the
"nut" started to strip a little so I stopped not wanted to further
damage the gauge. If the house burned to the ground tomorrow I get the
feeling that the only thing remaining intact would be that gauge
connected to that tank.
Jeff Wisnia wrote:
I'm in Putnam CT. I filled up a month ago and I've used about a third of
the tank so far. I"ll be filling up again in February. My total use is
about 800 gallons a year.
I too was offered $2.70 something by Saveway and I declined, fortunately. I
bought from Dollarwise and paid 2.039. Dollarwise has a network of local
dealers for cheap prices.
Hey Joe . Check with your oil supplier or a tank dealer. See if you can
get a gallon per inch chart that matches your tank. Then use some sort
of rod to measure the inches of oil, and with a chart, convert inches
to gallons :-) Works well !!
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