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How Do You Keep Your Fuel Oil From Freezing This Winter?

Boilers and furnaces, as well as water heaters, require fuel or heating oil to run. Furnace oil is created by heating crude oil to high temperatures in a fractionating column. It somehow resembles kerosene, but it condensed at a higher temperature during production. You can use this type of oil in both residential and commercial settings.   

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Continue reading for tips on how to keep your fuel oil from freezing this winter. 

Why Does Fuel Oil Freeze?

Typically, heating oil tanks are placed above or below ground. When temperatures reach 30 degrees and below, the oil tends to turn cloudy. However, it will not cause your heating equipment to malfunction. You should still expect your unit to run smoothly. It’s when the temperatures drop below 20 degrees that the paraffin in the heating oil will start separating from the oil and crystalize. The crystals can get stuck inside the fuel line, reducing the oil flow rate and causing your equipment to shut down. 

Which Parts of Your Equipment Can This Issue Affect?

Heating Oil Lines

Waxy oil can build up on the walls of heating lines, making the passageway narrower. When this happens, less fuel will get to the igniter, and the until will experience difficulty converting oil to heat. 

Heating Oil Tank

As the heating oil solidifies in the tank, the heavier sludge can settle to the bottom. It causes the volume of the viable oil to reduce. The more oil sinks to the bottom of the tank, the lesser usable oil is left.  

Atomizing Nozzle

While the nozzle’s opening is small, it is made for efficient heating oil passage. However, waxier oil may not be able to pass through this opening, and it can even clog the nozzle. Once it gets clogged, the oil will fail to reach the igniter, and your equipment will fail to turn it to heat.

Fuel Filter

You will need to replace fuel filters more frequently once the fuel oil turns thick and waxy. Forgetting to replace fuel filters can cause the nozzle to clog. 

How Can You Avoid This Problem?

Place Insulation Around Fuel Lines

Making sure that all fuel lines are well-insulated can help prevent heating oil from freezing. Without adequate insulation, the oil that flows through your fuel lines is likely to freeze. The insulation you should use must be waterproof to ensure it stays protected against the elements, such as rain and snow. 

Have Oil Filters Installed Indoors

During winter, it’s usually warmer inside your home. It’s why heating and oil delivery providers strongly recommend putting heating oil filters indoors during the cooler months. Installing air filters indoors is one of the easiest and best ways to prevent them from clogging with wax. 

Invest in a Shelter for Your Fuel Tank

Burying fuel lines underground will significantly reduce the likelihood of heating oil freezing. If you wish to create a shelter for your fuel tank, working with experienced professionals is a must. A skilled heating technician will help you determine the best methods to bury your fuel lines and prevent heating oil from freezing. 

Consider Getting Blended Heating Oil

Another thing you can do to keep your fuel oil from freezing is to try blended heating oil. This type of oil has a lower loud and freezing point than conventional heating oil. It is usually a combination of diesel and kerosene. If you are considering getting blended heating oil, you’ll need to contact professionals or heating oil and delivery providers. It’s because mixing substances comes with certain risks. Experts know the exact ratio to ensure your equipment runs safely and efficiently. 

Get a Wider Fuel Line

Installing wider fuel lines will not necessarily prevent heating oil from freezing. However, it can keep help you avoid clogs that can keep fuel oil from reaching the igniter. 

Maintain Your Equipment Regularly

Make it a habit to schedule professional inspection and cleaning service after winter. Doing so can help you make sure that your tank doesn’t have buildups and water that can cause rusting, clogging, bacterial growth, and other issues. Investing in routine maintenance will help you save more in the long run. It goes a long way in preventing costly issues and ensuring your family stays comfortable throughout the colder months. At Burch Oil, you can count on us for quality heating oil delivery and HVAC services. We’re here to help you take care of your home’s heating and cooling system. 

What Should You Do If Your Heating Oil Freezes?

Remember, it’s never a good idea to use an open flame to unfreeze your pipes. Heating oil is flammable and it’s because of its ability to burn that it is used in homes. Exposing heating oil is extremely dangerous for your home. It’s the same with electrical heat tapes because they can trigger fires. If your heating oil freezes, it’s best to contact professionals to have your equipment inspected. 

You may need to schedule an inspection if you think your heating oil usage is increasing or your tank has signs of oxidation. It’s also ideal to consult the pros if your heating equipment is constantly running to reach the moderate demand of your thermostat. 

If you think that your HVAC system has issues, don’t wait long before getting an inspection. Delaying repairs will only cause existing problems to worsen. Also, repairs should always be left to professional hands. Certified technicians know how to assess your equipment properly and determine the best ways to improve its performance and prolong its life. You can avoid inconveniences during the cooling month by scheduling routine maintenance before adding oil to your tank. Adding fuel additives made for home-burning heating units can also help prevent furnace oil from freezing. 

At Burch Oil, you can only count on us for superior residential and commercial HVAC services. We offer reliable oil delivery and work with leading manufacturers in the industry to provide you with the best service. Call us at (301) 373-2131 or fill out our contact form to request a fuel delivery or schedule a service appointment.

Reader Interactions


  1. Junior says

    Oil tank expert speaking :
    If you don’t want problems , get your oil tank cleaned and stop buying bio blend because bio fuel is made up of fat .if you have above ground oil tank, it should have a bottom feed valve on the bottom where the tech should be draining the condensing water every check up. Do they NO! Your above ground tank should Pitched 1.5 inches toward the valve. You don’t need insulation for your oil lines if your tank is clean . Or can tell your fuel company to install a 1/2 oil line with a tiger loop . Worst case buy anti gel additive . I actually like howes anti gel . You can buy it at Walmart for like 10 bucks. They use it in the semi trucks in -30 weather. Don’t need to blend Kerosene. All that cost too much and hassle.my email is bjkstud1251@gmail.com if you have any problems

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