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How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Heating Oil?

How to keep your oil-fired heating equipment running smoothly.

heating oil gelling middlesex county, ma Countless households in Norfolk and Middlesex counties rely on heating oil systems to stay warm when temperatures outside are icy-cold. Heating oil is up to the task, generating roughly 138,500 Btu of heat energy per gallon.

At Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling, we often speak to homeowners who are concerned about the stability of their heating oil, especially when temperatures plunge in our part of New England. We’re more than happy to offer some clarity on this subject.

Does heating oil freeze?

When temperatures reach the frigid level of 16°F, heating oil can begin to solidify. However, it does not freeze like water. Instead, it gradually thickens and transforms into a viscous waxy sludge, a process known as “gelling.”

Can gelling heating oil negatively impact my heating systems?

Unfortunately, gelling heating oil can pose a significant risk to your home’s heating system. Here are some of the ways your equipment is negatively impacted:

  1. Your heating oil tank ends up with less burnable fuel as the sludgy gelling oil settles on the bottom of the tank and takes up more space.
  2. Your heating oil lines will become narrower as the viscous fluid builds up in the lines and less usable heating oil makes it to your burners. This can dramatically lower your system’s fuel efficiency.
  3. Your system’s atomizing nozzle —which converts liquid heating oil into vapor so it will burn in your furnace or boiler — can become blocked. This will reduce your heating performance and can cause a total system breakdown.
  4. Your fuel filter can become clogged, and you will need to replace it.

How can you prevent heating oil from gelling?

Firstly, be aware that gelling in heating oil is more of a risk when your fuel tank is located outdoors or in an uninsulated space that gets cold frequently. Most of today’s heating oil tanks are in basements that receive at least some heating in the winter, keeping them consistently warmer than the “gel point” of heating oil.

It is also crucial that you never tamper or make alterations to your oil tank, furnace or boiler. This can create safety issues in your home. If you suspect that your heating oil is at risk of gelling, reach out to the Needham Oil team, and we can help.

Here are some of the ways that HVAC companies help people prevent cold-weather issues with heating oil:

  • Insulating the heating oil tank to protect it from freezing temperatures.
  • Treating oil with an anti-gelling additive.
  • Burying outdoor fuel lines to provide some natural insulation.
  • Installing wider fuel lines that can be less prone to blockages.

Needham Oil is here for your heating oil needs.

Whether you need to replace an old, failing heating oil tank or are looking for dependable automatic heating oil delivery , Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling has you covered. We deliver high-quality Bioheat® fuel, which lowers your home’s carbon footprint while slowing wear and tear on your equipment and extending its service life.

Interested in receiving comprehensive home comfort services from Needham Oil? Become a customer today — we promise you’ll be Completely satisfied.