Can I Put Diesel Fuel In My Home Heating Oil Tank?

image of a diesel gas pump used as a home heating oil alternative

Residents of Long Island are used to cold winters. They know exactly what to do to stay comfortable when the temperature drops. Yet even locals can experience problems during the season. Among the things to watch out for are empty heating oil tanks. Homeowners must keep an eye on the fuel level to prevent this. The good news is that most delivery companies can deliver fuel within three business days. If you call a local distributor, you may even refill your tank within the same day. Factors that affect delivery include road conditions, current weather, available supply, and fleet schedules. If you can’t get it fast enough, you could try heating oil alternatives.

Weather is unpredictable. The skies may be clear in the morning, but you could see a snowstorm at night. A scheduled delivery may not push through because of the dangerous road conditions. When this happens, you could use a different fuel in your empty oil tank. Diesel fuel is a good alternative, but there is a catch. This article provides everything you need to know about making the switch.

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Can I Put Diesel in the Heating Oil Tank?

Running out of fuel in a cold winter can be a nightmare. Let’s discuss what you can do if it happens to you.

Inspect the Heating Oil Tank as Soon as Possible

image of a heating oil tank

Diesel and heating oil are similar substances, but they have one glaring difference. The former has a higher tax than the latter. That means diesel is sold at a higher price compared to heating oil. Even if you could use this alternative, you probably wouldn’t want to do it regularly because of the cost. You should also inspect your tank to verify that it is low on fuel before filling it with diesel.

It’s easy. Just look for the floating gauge and see what the indicator says. This built-in meter goes up and down depending on the amount of fuel present. It will tell you whether the tank is full, half-full, quarter-full, or empty. If you are unsure about the accuracy of the device, take off the plastic cover and try to push it down. It should float back up to the correct level. If it stays at the bottom, the tank has no more oil.

Another way to verify the oil level is through manual measurement. Get a yardstick and dip it inside the fill tube. The fuel, if present, will adhere to the stick. Once you take it back out, see how much of the stick got wet. It may be critically low or reasonably high. Experts typically recommend scheduling delivery once the tank drops to 25% full.

In case the delivery gets delayed, you may have to fill the tank with diesel fuel in the meantime. Sometimes homeowners discover that they still have heating oil. Other factors might be preventing the heating system from working properly. Try to remove the sediments from the bottom of the tank. Reset the burner and see whether it works. It may be necessary to bleed the lines to push out trapped air. It’s a messy job, so consider handing it over to a professional.

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Related Article: Oil Tank Condensation: What To Be Aware Of 

The Dangers of Low Oil Level

image of a homeowner sitting by radiator due to running out of home heating oil

Allowing oil to fall to a low level increases the risk of an untimely system shutdown. It may happen faster than you expect. Most heating systems are designed to stop operation once the tank reaches a critical level. That means you will experience problems before you run out of oil.

Shutdowns may also happen due to other triggers, such as sediment buildup. It is a common occurrence for neglected tanks. Regular professional maintenance can help prevent it.

Some tanks have feed lines jutting out from the top and running downward. Check the pipes. If these do not reach the bottom, fuel may not flow properly even if the tank is not empty.

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Related Article: Best Methods To Estimate Heating Oil Usage Per Day

Is It Safe to Use Diesel as an Alternative Heating Fuel?

image of a heating oil tank gauge

We discussed how to check current oil levels as the first part of any troubleshooting process. Once you verify that the problem is low fuel, you can begin to use diesel. Keep in mind that this is purely for temporary relief. You should always revert to heating oil once it is available.

Price is not the only factor. These two substances have chemical differences that lead to divergent performance. Diesel burns hotter than heating oil. Heating systems can tolerate the gap for a few days, but it can cause problems over extended periods. Stick with the intended fuel for stress-free ownership. Limit diesel consumption to ensure a long system lifespan.

How much diesel should you use? It depends. Estimate the arrival time of the next fuel delivery. In most cases, 10 gallons a day should be more than adequate.

Be cautious with diesel. Store it in a suitable container to prevent spills and leaks. Consider adhering to the standard color, yellow, and label it properly. You may keep diesel for as long as six months. After that, the fuel will begin to degrade. If you want to keep it longer as a standby energy source, use chemical additives. Remember that these have their limitations. Read the instructions carefully.

Some people also use diesel for other applications, such as powering the lawn mower and similar machines. It makes sense for them to stock up on fuel. However, the rest may not know what to do with their excess diesel. Call the local hazardous waste facilities for proper disposal.

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Related Article: What Is That Whistling Sound During An Oil Delivery?

How to Add Diesel to Your Oil Tank

image of a woman filling a diesel gas can due to an empty heating oil tank

Now that you have the fuel, the only thing left is to put it inside the heating oil tank. It’s a simple process. Start by turning the system off. Go to the thermostat and push the right buttons. Don’t add fuel while the heater is running.

Now that the system is static, remove the oil cap and add just the right amount of fuel to cover your temporary deficiency. Don’t worry about leftover fuel. Heating oil and diesel can mix without any problems. It is a good sign to have a bit of oil left in there because you didn’t wait until the tank completely dried out before taking action. If the tank is dry, you will have to remove air from the lines before adding fuel. Hire a professional to do this dirty job. They can take out the sludge from the nozzle, filter, and oil pump.

Do not turn on the system immediately. The sediments will take a while to settle back to the bottom. Wait around 10 minutes for this to finish. Finally, you can restart the heating system and enjoy the warmth while waiting for the oil delivery.

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Related Article: What Happens When The Furnace Runs Out Of Oil?


Get Emergency Fuel Delivery with Hart Home Comfort

Is your tank low on heating oil? Call Hart Home Comfort to get fuel fast. The emergency oil services cover Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Queens, New York, so you never have to worry about a sudden system shutdown. We will be there in 24 hours or less. You won’t have to rely on diesel for long.

We can also help you avoid a repeat of this incident. Schedule regular refills to keep your tank full, get fuel discounts, and minimize oil tank problems.

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Call Hart Home Comfort For Your Home Heating Requirements

hart-logoWhen 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. Click the link to view our service area.

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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!