What Do Heating Oil Additives Do?

image of heating oil additives used in fuel oil storage tank

An estimated 5.5 million individuals in the U.S. rely on oil for home heating. A staggering 81% of these residents are found in the Northeast. For them, an oil tank isn’t just an accessory; it’s a fundamental part of their heating setup. Many homeowners question how best to care for their heating oil and its accompanying tank. While some are familiar with heating oil additives, many are already reaping their benefits. Dive in to learn more about the advantages of fuel oil additives.

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Different Types of Heating Oil Additives

Heating oil additives are essential for optimizing the performance of oil burners. They promote cleaner and more efficient system operation. Therefore, it’s beneficial to be acquainted with the four primary additives:

  • Stabilizers: They shield the oil from degradation, particularly from external environmental influences, and include components like antioxidants to ensure prolonged oil life. 
  • Water Controllers: Water emulsifiers are pivotal in managing water condensation in the tank. By addressing and minimizing this issue, they prevent potential complications related to water buildup. 
  • Biocides: Biocides are essential for tackling microbial growth within the tank. They act as a protective barrier, eliminating harmful bacteria and fungi. 
  • Line and Oil Nozzle Cleaners: They purify the fuel delivery line that carries the oil from the tank to the burners. Additionally, they tackle and remove accumulated sludge that might form at the tank’s base over time. 
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The Purpose of Heating Oil Additives

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Why do we incorporate heating oil additives into our home systems? First, it’s vital to understand the nature of the fuel we’re using: refined crude oil. In contemporary times, the refining process of crude oil has evolved, primarily due to heightened environmental consciousness. 

Moreover, there’s an increasing demand for low-sulfur diesel. Given these shifts, additives become essential in bridging the gap between the old and new refining methods and ensuring that the oil used in homes is efficient and eco-friendly.

The modifications in crude oil processing have led to a less stable fuel with a higher carbon residue content. Recognizing these challenges, manufacturers have refined and enhanced the chemical makeup of heating oil additives to counterbalance these changes, ensuring the fuel’s optimum performance.

If you’ve encountered any of the following challenges, it may be time to explore the benefits of heating oil additives:

  • Oil Tank Freezing
  • High Usage Rates
  • Sludge Buildup
  • Blocked Fuel Lines
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Understanding How Fuel Oil Additives Work

heating oil tank

During the refining process of oil, its inherent characteristics transform, leading to the emergence of impurities within the fuel. These contaminants, such as soot, water droplets, dirt, and other particulates, can negatively impact the oil tank’s performance. As these impurities accumulate, the overall efficiency of your heating system can decline.

Additives are pivotal in tackling and removing impurities, effectively restoring your heating system to its optimal performance. They help in the emulsification process of water droplets, curtailing the environment conducive to bacterial growth.

Furthermore, the unique chemical composition of these additives allows them to break down larger contaminants like soot and dirt. By doing so, these particles become small enough to pass through the tank’s filter without causing blockages. Moreover, additives can reduce the size of these pollutants to such an extent that they’re easily burned off during operation, ensuring a cleaner and more efficient system. 

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Addressing Concerns with Heating Oil Additives

One of the primary considerations for many is the cost-effectiveness of oil additives. Let’s explore how heating oil additives can solve various challenges homeowners might encounter.

Dealing with a Clogged Burner Nozzle

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A clogged burner nozzle in the tank is often due to the buildup of chemical constituents like carbon. When this happens, the heating system’s ability to effectively burn fuel is compromised, as the nozzle plays a crucial role in spraying the oil for combustion.

Thankfully, many heating oil additives contain specialized cleaning agents designed to dissolve these chemical buildups. These additives allow the burner nozzle to be kept clean and operational, ensuring efficient fuel combustion.

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Combatting Excessive Oil Tank Condensation

Excessive condensation within an oil tank can be detrimental, leading to internal rusting and bacterial growth. However, heating oil additives come to the rescue in such scenarios. They can emulsify water droplets, effectively halting the growth of bacteria.

Moreover, certain additives are designed to address and remove larger volumes of water from the system. This proactive step ensures that rusting is kept at bay, preventing further complications. 

Addressing Gelling of Heating Oil

When temperatures dip, heating oil is susceptible to gelling, which thickens it, hampering its flow from the tank to the burner. This phenomenon can obstruct the fuel line, filters, and nozzles, impeding system performance.

Anti-gelling additives effectively lower the temperature threshold at which the fuel starts to gel, ensuring smoother flow even in chilly conditions. For homeowners in colder regions, such additives are invaluable as they ensure heating systems run optimally during the harshest winter months.

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Tackling Sludge Buildup in the Oil Tank

Sludge at the tank’s bottom is a clear indicator of impurity accumulation, which can clog filters and fuel lines. This accumulation diminishes the tank’s heating efficiency and, in severe cases, can cause the system to malfunction or even shut down. If you need to turn off the heat during a fuel delivery to avoid line clogs, it’s a sign that your tank is grappling with a significant sludge issue.

Combatting Sludge with the Right Additive

An additive specifically formulated to tackle sludge can be a game-changer. By aiding the heating oil in dissolving the accumulated sludge and even reabsorbing it, the sludge is efficiently burned off during the system’s regular operation. This cleans the tank and allows it to return to its optimal functionality. 

Potential Drawbacks of Heating Oil Additives

image of things to consider depicting heating oil additives

While the benefits of heating oil additives often outweigh the drawbacks, it’s essential to be informed about potential limitations. 

  • Additives might not completely eliminate all water droplets present in your heating system. In instances where an additive has been applied, but water droplet issues persist, it becomes imperative to seek the expertise of a professional.
  • It’s crucial to be wary of additives containing alcohol, as they can introduce new challenges to your heating system. 
  • There’s a risk of clogging if you’re addressing significant sludge buildup using a line and oil nozzle cleaner. Should you encounter such a situation, it’s imperative to promptly consult with a professional to prevent potential damage and ensure a lasting and efficient heating system.
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It’s important to understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all additive solution for every issue your tank might face. Sometimes, a combination of additives might be necessary to address varying challenges. While the initial investment in multiple additives may seem costly, the enhanced efficiency of your tank can result in significant savings in the long run. Always consult a professional to ensure you adhere to the best practices for your tank’s peak performance.

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Call Hart Home Comfort For Your Home Heating Requirements


When you need superior HVAC services in the area, do not hesitate to call Hart Home Comfort. We have the best professionally certified technicians who can conduct high-quality heating and cooling services, including maintenance, repairs, replacements, and installations. All our friendly techs are equipped with the correct tools, extensive knowledge, and years of experience to service any HVAC system accurately.

Our company has the most competitive and affordable home comfort service costs in the area. When you need to replace your HVAC system, we can recommend the best and most budget-friendly unit for your home. Schedule an appointment with Hart Home Comfort today for a free, in-home estimate.

We also offer fast and reliable home heating oil deliveries. You can choose from one of our many financing plans and delivery options. This way, you can customize your oil deliveries to meet your needs. Hart Home Comfort delivers EcoBlend Bioheat® heating oil, a blend of high-quality ultra-low sulfur heating oil and biodiesel.

By ordering your fuel from us, you can help reduce carbon emissions and help the environment, while taking advantage of our superior oil delivery services. Call today to schedule a full delivery for your home or office.

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For any questions about what Hart Home Comfort can do for you, give us a call today. Click here to contact us now or call us at (631) 667-3200 to find out more! Click the link to view our service area.

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