How to Read Your Home Heating Oil Tank Gauge

oil tank gauge

Homes with heating oil systems are prepared to take on winter. These systems store fuel in their own tank, so they do not rely on a continuous flow from outside sources. Therefore, homeowners that use C.O.D. or will-call oil delivery will need to regularly check the remaining fuel in their oil tanks. This is done by reading the heating oil tank gauge. By checking your oil tank gauge and heating oil levels, you will be able to schedule heating fuel deliveries promptly and with enough time.

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The Basics of Float Gauges in an Oil Tank

The design of the oil tank has remained unchanged over the last hundred years. It is simple, but it works well. The tank’s main body is typically made of welded steel with rounded edges. It has a fill pipe where you can add more oil and a vent pipe where excess air can escape. Underneath the vent pipe is an oil tank vent alarm or whistle that releases a sound as air goes out. The tank also has oil feed lines that move the oil from the tank to the burner. There is also the float gauge with a hinged arm below and the end floating on the surface of the oil. The arm goes lower as you use oil, moving the gauge indicator disc with it.

Finding the Oil Tank on the Property

heating oil tank

If you recently bought a home, find the oil tank within the property so you can read the gauge. This is an easy task if the tank is above the ground. However, there are times when the tank is hidden in a basement, or it can be underground. The external pipes and float gauge should still be accessible. Tanks have a standard size of 275 gallons and also come in larger sizes. These large containers shouldn’t be filled to the brim for your safety. They typically contain around 225 to 250 gallons of heating oil, and the remaining space is occupied by air. This way, heating oil can expand without any issues.

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Reading the Oil Tank Float Gauge

Once you find the oil tank, check the gauge at its top. It is a clear and cylindrical gadget with an indicator disc. They are usually marked as follows: E for Empty, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and F for Full. Look where the disc is pointing to know the heating oil level in your tank. If you are doing this for the first time, you may be confused about how to read the gauge. You may be unsure whether to follow the disc’s bottom or top. However, it doesn’t matter as the gauge is not precise. You only need to check where the middle of the disc lies regarding the markings.

Calculating the Remaining Fuel In Your Heating Oil Tank

Once you know the approximate fuel level in your tank, you need to compute how many gallons of heating oil tank is in it. You can do this manually using a simple formula. First, determine the size of your tank so you can find out its fuel capacity. Most homes have a 275-gallon tank that isn’t entirely filled, so it usually contains only 240 gallons of heating oil, and the remaining volume is air. Therefore, a float gauge at the 1/4 mark means the tank has 60 gallons left (240 x 0.25). This amount will last for a few weeks, but getting a refill as soon as possible is recommended instead of waiting for the tank to run empty, affecting your furnace or boiler. A good rule of thumb is to book for heating oil delivery when the tank is around 30% full.

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Checking for Oil Tank Gauge Failure

The float gauge is only an estimation of the tank’s current fuel level. It may fail to provide a good estimate at times. This is due to a faulty float mechanism. To check if this is the case, remove the outer case and push the float. The float should bounce back by itself once you release it. If it stays down, you have a broken float in your hands and it requires professional attention. This problem can be due to wear and tear if you have an older tank. The arm below can also rotate and get stuck at the tank’s side. Another reason is that the float becomes covered in thick sludge, weighing it down and keeping it from working as it should.


Overcoming a Broken Oil Tank Gauge

If the tank’s gauge is broken, you can use an alternate way to measure its fuel level. This also applies to tanks that didn’t have a float gauge at the onset. You will need a long thin stick to conduct manual measurements. It should be able to fit in the hole and should be long enough to cover the tank’s height. After a refill, dip the stick to see where the top of the fuel is when the tank is full. Mark the oil level. Use the same stick to check how far the fuel has gone down later on.

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Typical Heating Oil Tank Duration

heating oil tankIn general, a full heating oil tank will last for quite some time. The exact duration depends on several factors, such as tank size, home size, interior temperature settings, insulation level, regional weather, frequency of use, and heating system efficiency.

Most homes only utilize heating oil to keep certain areas warm. Others heat the whole house. Homeowners can monitor their fuel consumption each year so they know their annual heating oil needs.

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The winters in New Jersey can be harsh. Inspect the float gauge to determine how much heating oil is left in your tank. Order a refill if the oil level is below 1/3 of its capacity. This way, you can enjoy continuous heating for a warm and comfortable home.

Call McAllister Energy For All Your Home Heating Needs

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For all your HVAC and oil delivery needs, contact McAllister Energy. We have some of the most highly qualified and professionally certified technicians in Camden County, New Jersey. Each of our friendly techs can conduct all kinds of HVAC services, such as oil tank upgrades, boiler repair, ductless installations, furnace replacements, and more. We have various oil delivery plans and financing options. This way, you can customize your fuel deliveries to meet your needs. Our heating oil delivery and HVAC services are affordable and are done accurately and promptly at all times. Click here to view our service area.

All of our services come with a guarantee. Our HVAC maintenance services improve your energy efficiency and home comfort while decreasing your HVAC costs. We can also assist you when you need to replace your heating and cooling system. We will help you find the best make and model for your home without sacrificing your budget. Our experts have the skills, training, and experience to ensure that all your home comfort needs are met. Book an appointment with us today. Call McAllister Energy for a free, in-home estimate.

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