What are all the parts of a heating oil tank?
Let’s play a quick game!
First, how much do you care about your home heating oil tank parts? (*crickets*)
Ok, that’s what we thought. Now, how much would you care about your heating oil tank parts if caring meant you could potentially save between $20,000 - $50,000? Got your attention now, eh?
Believe it or not, that's how much it will cost if your tank fails and you have an oil leak to contend with.
An oil tank is a critical – and a very expensive – asset of your home and if you know how it works, you’ll better understand how to maintain it properly to prevent costly deterioration.
With a daunting oil tank failure clean up catastrophe in the back of your mind, let’s roll up our sleeves (figuratively, of course – we won’t make you get your hands dirty) and bring this guide down to your basement for a quick peek.
Parts of a heating oil tank: The complete guide
Instead of an oil tank diagram, we’re going to give you some more bang for your buck with a safety checklist where we highlight each part – so you can keep your equipment (and heating efficiency) in tip-top shape all season long. In even better news, this entire cost-savings checklist only takes about three minutes!
Here is the 9-point inspection checklist you can do right now (with some bonus information if you have a couple extra minutes to become an expert on heating oil tank parts):
Point #1: Vent pipe. The vent pipe is located on the outside of your house next to your tank’s fill pipe. You need to make sure it’s not clogged with snow, leaves, or other debris.
Bonus details: The vent pipe is there to relieve the vacuum created when your burner pulls oil from the oil tank. At oil delivery, when the oil gets put into the tank, the outgoing air goes through the end of the vent pipe and makes noise like a whistle. If there is no telltale whistle, there’s a problem. It means that the delivery has to stop immediately since there is either a full tank or clogged lines – posing the risk for a spill. Clear lines ensure this transfer works properly!
Point #2: Fill pipe. The fill pipe is where the driver delivers the heating oil to your oil tank. It’s like the hole under the gas cap in your car where you insert the gas nozzle, but in pipe form. It’s located next to the vent pipe and it’s important to keep it clear and make sure there are no signs of leakage.
Bonus details: It’s also crucial to check that the pipe is made from a material like steel (note: it can’t be made out of PVC pipe…and yes, we see that occasionally). If there’s a leak, or you think there might be a leak, please call a heating service technician immediately, or give us a call and we’ll point you in the right direction. This is true for ANY and ALL potential problems you come across in this checklist!
Point #3: Tank surface. Grab a flashlight and shine it on the oil tank itself. Without touching it (we want to keep our promise that this checklist won’t get your hands dirty!), look for rust, oil “weeps”, wet spots, or excessive dents.
Point #4: Tank legs. The oil tank doesn’t and shouldn’t sit on the ground. Instead, it has legs that hold it up, and you need to make sure these legs are stable and standing on an even foundation. To do this, get down on your knees (toss down a towel if you are in your Sunday best up for this inspection), shine the flashlight, and make sure the legs are stable, not overly rusty, and on an even foundation. The tank should never rock (or roll).
Point #5: Beneath the tank. It’s time to explore the underbelly of the tank! So, while you’re down there for the tank legs, you may need to lie down. If this sounds unappealing, we’d love to remind you of the potential $20,000 to $50,000 clean-up price tag… Now that you are obviously motivated to get up close and personal with the tank at this new angle, make sure there are no leaks—or any signs of leaks—under the tank. And, just like the tank surface, don’t run your hand along the bottom of the tank!
Point #6: Oil filter. While you’re down there, look for leaks or signs of leaks under or around the oil filter. The filter has an important job since it removes/filters out the solid particles and impurities that can be present in your tank, and you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly.
Point #7: Oil lines. Oil lines bring oil from the tank to the furnace/boiler and you’ll want to check for leaks or signs of leaks along the entire oil line that runs from the oil tank to the burner. Need a little more guidance? These lines usually run above the concrete and are encased in protective tubing. Starting at the oil tank end of the line, follow the length of it to the burner looking for leaks or signs of leaks.
Bonus details: If your line runs under the ground, you should call your heating service technician and ask them to replace it. Lines that run under the ground can leak without you ever knowing, and you don’t need that worry!
Point #8: Tank gauge. Ok, stand up, and dust yourself off – you’re almost done! Now you need to make sure the oil gauge is working. Usually located at the top of the tank, it’s going to tell you how much oil you have.
Bonus details: You want to make sure it is working, so you’ll want to see where it measures and then check it again in a day or two when you know the system has been on. The gauge is attached to a “float” inside the heating oil tank. Because this is all mechanical, the gauge or parts of the gauge can get stuck so if the gauge isn’t moving, you’ll want to get this checked out.
Point #9: Age of tank. This one is quick. As the last checklist item, you’ll need to confirm that your tank is less than 25 years old.
Bonus details: If you’ve never had a problem with your tank in its 25-year ownership, it’s done a great job, and you still need to look into replacing it. Even if it’s not showing obvious signs of distress, age is a critical factor in the life of the tank, and it will deteriorate over time. If you just moved in, you’ll need this important age detail from the previous owners.
Keep this checklist on hand and do this mini assessment on a regular basis.
Schedule routine equipment maintenance as instructed by your heating technician.
If there are specific questions, concerns (i.e. heating oil tank fittings), or...
...if there’s a leak, or you think there might be a leak, call a heating service technician immediately, or give us a call and we’ll point you in the right direction since safety is always the top priority!
My equipment is good to go and now I need oil! Can you fill ‘er up?
At Heatable, we’re all about bringing you heating oil in the smartest, fastest, least expensive, and easiest way possible. To get started, simply enter your zip code on our website or app and see if you live in one of our ever-expanding Maine & New Hampshire delivery areas. If you do, we’ll show you the current price of oil – and let you know exactly when we can deliver it (hint: very quickly, we’re kinda known for that). You’ll need to enter a few pieces of information for your first delivery, and then from there on out you can order heating oil anywhere, anytime, and all online with just two taps and a swipe on your smartphone. Just Tap, Tap, Swipe and we bring the heat!
Learn more about Heating Oil
Visit our Ultimate Consumer’s Guide to Heating Oil for everything you need to know about heating your home with #2 heating oil.
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