Does Heating Oil Go Bad?

image of a heating oil tank

Many US homes, especially in the Northeast region, utilize heating oil as their residential heating choice. It offers high efficiency, availability, and convenience. This type of fuel is delivered to your home by an oil supplier and then it is stored in tanks, unlike natural gas. Homeowners usually stock up before the arrival of the winter season so that they do not have to worry about running out when they need it the most. Likewise, many prefer to order in bulk before demand is high, knowing heating oil prices are low during that time. As a result, they may have excess fuel oil when winter ends, leading them to wonder about whether their heating oil will go bad or what is heating oil lifespan.

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What Impacts Heating Oil Lifespan?

Read on to find out everything you need to know about your heating oil’s life expectancy.

1. Heating Oil Storage

Heating oil can be stored in your tank for up to two years without problems. In fact, it can last for 10 years if stored in ideal conditions. Heating oil is more stable compared to gasoline and other kinds of fuel, meaning it doesn’t break down easily. As long as you have a storage tank in excellent condition, you can rest easy knowing your heating oil will not go bad. Many of the oil tanks for residential application have large capacities, often holding hundreds of gallons. It is not unusual to have leftover heating oil when the cold season ends. You can leave the leftover oil in your tank to be used next winter or for domestic hot water.

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2. How Weather Impacts Fuel Oil

snow and ct home that uses heating oil

The weather where you live can affect your heating oil. Frigid weather can cause the heating oil to coagulate. Heating oil contains paraffin, and this will harden under extreme cold. It will separate from the substance when the temperature dips below 15 degrees. As a result, the heating oil will not flow as it should because its consistency will become gel-like. This poses a challenge as heating oil needs to pass through a small pipe to get inside your house. The good news is that coagulation will be reversed once the temperature rises from the freezing point. The paraffin will melt, and the heating oil can flow freely again.

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3. Heating Oil Tank

Where you store your heating oil is an essential part of your fuel’s life expectancy. The oil tank should be designed and installed carefully to achieve the heating oil’s maximum life expectancy. Most oil tanks are installed aboveground, where they are exposed to different elements. Make sure that your tank is enclosed on all sides to avoid deterioration as time passes.

Underground tanks can degrade over time as well. Its exterior can become rusty, which will lead to corrosion. Holes can develop when this happens, and your tank will fall prey to several issues. For instance, impurities can get inside your tank and contaminate your heating oil. Any leftover oil you have will soon go bad because of the bacteria that got in your tank. Sludge formation can also become a problem, and this can significantly decrease your tank’s capacity. Ensure that your tank is in excellent condition at all times because it can affect not only your tank’s longevity but your heating oil as well.


4. Oil Smell

It can be hard to look into your tank to conduct a visual check of its contents. Openings are often too small, and it is too dark inside to see anything. Shining a light inside might not be as helpful as well. Homeowners can instead use a long stick and dip it inside the tank. This will allow you to check the fuel’s condition easily. You can see if the heating oil that’s stuck on the stick has gone bad or not.

Another way to determine if your heating oil is still good is through its smell. The bacteria that cause sludge formation also cause your heating oil to smell foul. Check if this is the case with your heating oil by removing the tank’s cap to take a whiff. The smell should be the same as how it was when it was delivered to your home. Otherwise, call a professional to help you. An expert technician will check the remaining heating oil in your tank and provide a solution to your problem.

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Call Wilcox Energy For Reliable Heating Oil Deliveries


For top-notch service and competitive prices on your heating oil, contact Wilcox Energy as soon as possible.

We provide a broad range of financing options and delivery plans, which allow you to customize your oil deliveries to meet your specific needs. In addition, we perform heating system repairs and maintenance for the purpose of enhancing the overall efficiency and functionality of all your home heating equipment. Contact Wilcox Energy for all of your residential heating needs.

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For more information about our heating oil deliveries or HVAC services, be sure to contact Wilcox Energy. You can click here to contact us or call us at (860) 399-6218. Call now!

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