Your oil-burning boiler or furnace has been your most trusted friend this winter, but now it’s time to shut it off for the warmer months. Here are a few things to do to make sure you’re turning off your oil heat safely.
1. Schedule a Cleaning
Chances are your oil furnace is in a damp corner of your basement. When you shut it down, you run the risk of moisture causing rust and corrosion to the unit. Your system is also at risk of damage from the buildup of debris and soot over the past winter’s use. You can extend its life by scheduling a cleaning and maintenance visit just before shutting it down.
2. Turning the Pilot Light Off
Before tackling the question of the pilot light, you need to understand if you have a boiler or a furnace. Oil boilers use baseboard heaters and radiators to heat the home, while oil furnaces force warm air through vents.
If you have a boiler, the pilot light should remain lit even in the summer months. Turning it off may cause the metal to cool down and shrink, causing damage and leaks to the system.
If you have an oil furnace, keeping the pilot light lit is a personal preference. If you leave it lit, you’ll be able to easily turn the unit back on if the nights turn unseasonably cold. You’ll also avoid having to relight it next fall when returning the unit to service.
Choosing to turn it off may save a few dollars throughout the summer, a total average of $50.
3. Visually Inspect All Supply Tubing
It’s important to inspect all supply tubing, from the oil tank to the filter and unit itself. Run your fingers down the length of the supply lines, checking for wet, slick areas that could indicate a leak. Pay special attention to shut-off valves and connections, as these are prone to leaking. If you identify an active leak, contact a professional for remediation.
4. Visually Inspect the Oil Tank
Inspect the oil tank for leaks, paying special attention to signs of corrosion that may indicate an imminent problem in the future. Don’t forget to look under it for signs of leaking:
- Dead grass under or around the tank
- Stains on grass or concrete under the tank
- Wet spots or rust on the storage tank
- The odor of oil around the tank
- Drips from connections or seams
- Obvious puddles of thick reddish fluid
- Dripping fluids from seams and connections
If your tank is older than fifteen years, it may be nearing the end of its usable lifespan. This is the perfect time to remove it and replace it with a new one.
5. Turn the Thermostat Down
If the system is running, make sure it completes its cycle before turning the thermostat down to its lowest setting. If you have an on/off switch on the thermostat, flip it to “off.”
6. Shut off the System
Find the system’s shut-off switch and flip it to “off.” This ensures the unit is no longer connected to electricity. You can flip the emergency switch, usually located on a red plate on a wall, or the power switch on or near the unit.
7. Shut Off Oil Feeder Valves
First, locate the feeder supply valve on the oil tank and rotate it to the off position. You can usually find several other feeder valves on the supply tubing. Shutting those off will ensure that if an issue arises with the oil line, it will be contained to one small area.
8. Keep Your CO Detector Connected After the Unit is Shut Down
Keep the CO detector operational even after the heating unit is shut off for the season, and make sure to check that it’s functional throughout the warmer months.
Professional Oil Tank Inspections
ACE Environmental is available for oil spill cleanups, tank inspections, and oil tank removal services. Have a question about your oil tank? Contact us and we’ll take care of it for you.