Here's What To Do if You
Run Out of Heating Oil
There’s nothing worse than running out of heating oil and it will have a significant impact on your daily routines. Not only will it mean you don’t have any heating – not a good idea if we’re in winter – it could also mean no hot water. Apart from forgetting to get your heating oil tank filled up, there are a variety of reasons why you could suddenly run out of heating oil, but there are steps you can take to minimise the impact and keep warm.
Reasons for running out of heating oil
It’s not uncommon to run out of heating oil and there are a number of typical reasons why this happens:
- Not monitoring the level of oil in your tank regularly.
- There is a delay in delivery of your oil from your supplier due to weather, or for other reasons.
- There is sudden cold weather and you use more heating oil than normal.
- You’ve been the victim of heating oil theft.
It’s never a nice situation to be in, but if you do run out of heating oil, here are our top tips.
What to do if you run out of heating oil
If you run out of heating oil in the summer months, chances are you’re only missing out on hot water for a short while. However, if you run out during the winter months, you’ve lost your heating, too.
Here are our recommendations if you run out of heating oil:
- Check you’ve actually run out – before you do anything else, make sure you have actually run out of heating oil. Sometimes, the reason why the oil is not getting through to your heating system could be because there is a problem with your tank, your boiler or the fuel lines. So, physically check the levels of oil in your tank and make sure there is no oil left.
- Order more oil – once you’ve checked and confirmed that you have run out of heating oil, contact your supplier and place an order, asking for an emergency delivery. You may have to pay extra for a fast turnaround service and remember that there is a minimum order quantity in the UK of 500 litres.
- Activate other forms of heating – not everyone will have another form of heating, such as electric heaters or wood fires, but if you have then get them going particularly if it is winter and the house needs to be kept warm to protect vulnerable people. If you don’t have another form of heating, it’s worth investing in a couple of portable electric radiators and put them in the rooms which don’t generate their own heat, such as the living room and bedrooms.
- Keep the heat in – don’t let what heat you do have in the house out. Shut the curtains, block up any draughts, such as under doors and shut doors in the rooms you don’t use, like any spare bedrooms or reception rooms.
Once you have had a delivery of heating oil from your supplier, it is highly likely you will need to bleed your central heating system to remove any air pockets and get your boiler started again. Most modern boilers have a safety cut-off mechanism which turns off the burner when you run out of heating oil.
However, if you let your oil tank run out completely, there is every possibility that any sludge or dirt that sits at the bottom of your tank will be sucked into your system’s filters and fuel lines. If this is the case, you will need to call out an oil heating engineer to clean the filters and fuel lines before you can restart your boiler. Make sure they are OFTEC-registered and know their way around oil central heating systems.
How to avoid running out of heating oil?
The best case scenario is to avoid running out of heating oil and save money on the extra expense of an emergency delivery from your supplier, as well as the cost of an oil heating engineer to clean fuel lines and filters. Below are our top tips to prevent you running out in the future:
- Upgrade your oil tank – it’s worth investing in upgrading your tank to a modern version that allows you to easily monitor heating oil levels and track your usage. Today, there are modern oil tanks which can be fitted with alarms and monitoring systems to notify you when your oil has reached a low level and needs topping up with heating oil.
- Plan ahead – get into the habit of ordering in advance when you have quarter of a tank of heating oil remaining. Most oil suppliers are happy to arrange deliveries for you based on your summer and winter usage and will automatically deliver within 14 working days so that you don’t run out of heating oil.
- Install oil tank security – there’s nothing worse than being a victim of heating oil theft. Consider investing in security measures to protect your oil tank and prevent theft. For example, install closed shackle padlocks, oil tank alarms that detect when your oil suddenly drops too low, security lighting and CCTV, and lockable oil tank cages.
- Change to a monthly payment plan – if you’re on a tight budget, finding the money every few months to pay for a fuel delivery can be difficult. Switch to a monthly payment plan, where you can put away funds each month ready for your next heating oil order, with your heating oil supplier. Not only will this ease the pressure on paying off your fuel, you are also more likely to get a better deal from your supplier and you don’t have to find a lump sum at the last minute.
As we head into this year’s winter, it’s a good idea to check your heating oil levels and make sure you are ready for the cold season ahead.
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