For information on how the heating oil industry is addressing the coronavirus, Click here.
Blog

Is Heating Oil Safe?

Date: December 23, 2019

safe homeData shows that while heating oil customers have exceptionally high levels of satisfaction with the service of their provider, many homeowners, particularly younger ones, have misconceptions about the safety of heating their home with oil.*

The truth is that heating oil has always been a remarkably safe fuel. Customers who understand this consider it a big reason they choose to stay with oil heat instead of switching to an alternative fuel. As you continue to enjoy the comfort and safety of your oil-heated home, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Heating oil cannot burn in its liquid state. Before combustion can occur, heating oil must be vaporized first by your oil burner first at temperatures above 140°. It takes an advanced high-tech burner to ignite the oil.
  • Heating oil cannot explode. The fuel oil stored in your tank is very safe. If you dropped a lit match into a bucket of heating oil, the flame would go out as if you dropped the match into water.
  • Modern oil storage tanks have been designed to be virtually leak-proof. Whether your oil storage tank is located outside your home or in your basement, the today’s tanks are designed with corrosion-resistant materials. Today’s tanks can last for decades. New technology allows for remote monitoring to protect against the rare event of a leak and can guarantee that you will always have enough heating oil on hand. Read more about storage tanks.

Staying safe from carbon monoxide

You’re probably already aware that oil heat poses a very low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If an oil burner malfunctions—most often due to a lack of maintenance—you will usually see smoke emitting from your boiler or furnace indicating that there is a problem. In addition, the safety devices built in to the unit will typically shut off the furnace or boiler.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that oil heat consumers shouldn’t have working carbon monoxide detectors inside their home, especially near all bedrooms. There are many other sources for carbon monoxide leaks besides a malfunctioning boiler or furnace. These include:

  • the operating of unvented appliances for extended periods of time
  • backdrafts caused by pressure imbalances near the heating system
  • an idling vehicle in an attached garage
  • a gasoline-powered generator running in a basement or attached garage
  • a blocked flue

Make sure to check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly to confirm they are operating properly!

You will be able to enhance heating oil safety even further by getting regular system maintenance. This will ensure that your boiler or furnace is operating with optimum safety and efficiency.

*Based on the NORA-funded Oilheat Consumer Research Study.