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Does Heating Oil Go Bad?

Many homeowners in Goose Creek SC heat their homes with furnaces fueled by oil. At the end of the heating season, most homeowners still have a measure of oil remaining in the tank. One question homeowners often ask our HVAC technicians is “Does heating oil in Goose Creek SC go bad?” Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars filling their oil tanks and they want to be sure that their investment near the end of the heating season won’t be wasted. 

The answer to the question depends on a few different factors. 

1. Time Factors for Heating Oil
Heating oil should not go bad in one or two years. In fact, the oil should remain usable for 10 years or more. Unlike gasoline, heating oil in Goose Creek SC does not break down in a short period of time, as long as the storage tank is intact and in good condition. Oil tanks can hold hundreds of gallons of fuel and most homeowners will have heating oil remaining in the tank when the heating season ends. As long as the tank is in good condition, the oil may be stored and used during the following heating season. 

2. Weather Conditions Affect Heating Oil
Temperatures below 15 degrees can cause the oil to coagulate. The paraffin in the oil hardens and separates. The oil takes on a gel consistency. This gelled oil will clog filters and lines. However, when the oil is warmed back to temperatures above freezing, the paraffin melts and the oil is usable once again. 

3. Condition of the Heating Oil Tank
Most oil tanks are above ground and enclosed in a storage room, basement or utility shed. Some oil tanks are built in the ground, as well. Over time, oil tanks corrode and age, particularly those that are in the ground or otherwise unprotected from the elements. Particles of rust, dirt and debris may find a way into the storage tank. Water may also invade the tank. If water infiltrates the tank and contaminates the oil, the heating oil can go bad. Bacteria will grow when water is present. When the oil is contaminated with water and bacteria, sludge forms. The formation of sludge starts at the bottom of the tank, but left unattended, can fill the entire tank. 

4. Evaluating the Condition of the Heating Oil
If bacteria has caused sludge to form, the sludge will create a foul smell. Remove the cap from the heating oil tank and smell the contents. If the oil smells like freshly delivered oil, the oil has not gone bad. If you smell a foul odor, the oil has likely been contaminated. If you are unsure about the condition of the oil, call your HVAC service professional. The technician will assist you with evaluating the condition of your oil. 

Goose Creek Heating and Air Conditioning serves the heating and cooling needs of residents in Goose Creek and the surrounding areas. The company repairs and services all types of furnaces, including those fueled by oil. Goose Creek Heating and Air Conditioning will provide answers for any of your questions about your heating system.  Please give us a call for all your HVAC concerns.

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