Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

Cold winters are part of our daily lives when you live in the northeastern portion of the country. Still, even the highly seasoned northeasterners can encounter some temporary setbacks. The one we may all wish to avoid the most is discovering that our heating oil tank has ran out of fuel in the middle of the winter. The good news is that heating oil delivery has a standard turnaround time of three business days. Local distributors may also offer service as fast as same-day delivery, depending on the weather, road conditions, and several other factors. However, there may come a time when you must choose heating oil alternatives.

The unpredictable weather and families at home may mean that you can’t wait. Your family’s safety and well-being is a top priority. Exposure to cold can negatively impact your family, especially children and the elderly. Diesel may be the alternative you need to keep your home warm, but it isn’t always a simple fill-and-go. This article is a comprehensive guide on what you should know before putting diesel in your heating oil tank.

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Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

Keep reading to know what steps to take when you run out of fuel in the middle of the cold season.

Inspect Your Home Heating Oil Tank

image of a heating oil tank

One of diesel’s largest setbacks is it is taxed differently from heating oil, making it more expensive. Therefore, you should first ensure that you need to use an oil alternative. To do this, inspect your oil tank before switching to diesel.

Inspecting the floating gauge is the most common method of checking your oil system’s level. The gauge floats on oil, so it can tell you the tank’s oil level. You can ensure your float works properly by removing its plastic covering and pushing it down with your hand. The gauge will return to its original position at the proper oil level if the tank has oil. It will remain down if the tank is out of oil.

You can also conduct manual oil level checks. All you need to do is put a yardstick into the tank’s fill tube. Tanks come in different sizes, and each has varying critical levels of when it needs to be refilled. Verify your tank’s critical level with the manufacturer. The general rule is to order a refill when your tank is below one-third to one-quarter full.

If your tank is out of oil, fill it with diesel. Let the sediment settle at the tank’s base and reset the burner to start it. Some cases may require bleeding the lines so the air that is trapped in the system is released. This will help in restarting the tank, but it is a messy and complex process. Therefore, we recommend hiring a professional should you choose to take this route.

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Dangers of Running Low on Oil

The biggest risk of making your system run at low oil levels is system shutdown. Many homeowners fail to realize that this can happen quickly. With most tanks, your system shuts down at the critical level, even before the heating oil completely runs out.

A system shutdown happens because of many reasons. One is due to the accumulation of sediment at the base of the tank. This problem tends to be more prevalent in tanks that do not receive proper care.

Moreover, many tanks have feed lines that run from the top downward. Pipes that do not reach the bottom mean you run out of fuel before the tank is fully empty.

Diesel as a Heating Fuel Alternative: Safety and Uses

image of a diesel gas pump used as a home heating oil alternative

Once you are sure that you have an oil tank that is at least below critical levels or out of heating oil, you can temporarily use diesel. This alternative is an excellent fuel option but remember that it should only be used for a short period. Heating oil is always better, and we will now discuss the reason.

Besides being more expensive, diesel has hotter combustion than conventional heating fuel. This is not a big problem when diesel is used for a few days at a time. However, this can result in lasting heating system damage over time as your system isn’t built to withstand higher temperatures. You can preserve your tank’s service life by using 5 to 10 gallons of diesel per day for several days.
How much diesel you consume depends on how long your next heating fuel delivery arrives at your home. However, you should require not more than 10 gallons daily at most.

Ensure that you have correctly colored containers when handling diesel. They are typically stored in yellow containers and should be labeled properly. This may be a temporary solution, but you can safely store diesel fuel for six months at a time before it deteriorates and becomes unsafe to use. You can use additives to extend the diesel’s life, but these come with limitations and necessary treatments. Therefore, you should refrain from storing diesel for longer.

Suppose you won’t use your diesel again after using it in your heating oil tank. In that case, you can properly dispose of it by contacting your local municipality through recycling or hazardous waste collection centers.

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How to Use Diesel Fuel in Your Home Heating Oil Tank

After getting diesel in properly marked yellow containers, you can begin filling your tank. Follow these steps to do so:

  • Turn the system off. Ensure that your system is completely turned off. Use the tank’s thermostat control to get this done.
  • Add the diesel. You can put as much as 10 gallons or more of diesel into the tank. You can mix diesel with the leftover oil, which is actually better as residual heating oil means the tank didn’t completely run out. A tank that has run fully dry must have its lines bled of air so that the oil pump, nozzle, and filter are clear of sludge. If you aren’t mechanically inclined to do this by yourself, catching this issue before your tank completely empties will save you time and additional steps.
  • Wait for sediments to settle. Leave the tank to sit for several minutes after filling it with diesel so the impurities and residues can settle at its base.
  • Turn the system back on. Start your heating system again. Your home will now be heated like usual until you can use heating oil in your tank again.


Get Emergency Fuel Delivery With Tevis Energy

If you have low heating oil in your tank and there are no alternatives on hand, call Tevis Energy. Our company proudly provides emergency oil services in central Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, so homeowners do not have to worry about running out of oil during winter. Contact us for emergency oil services if you need a quick solution. We can usually service your tank within 24 hours with our emergency oil deliveries, so you do not have to depend on diesel for home heating longer than needed.

Prevent your tank from running on empty in the future, and get fuel at a discounted rate with automatic fill services. This way, you can ensure that your tank stays full and you have low maintenance needs.

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Call Tevis Energy For Your Home Heating Oil Requirements

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Tevis Energy is a trustworthy heating oil delivery company that services central Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. Our company offers affordable and the most competitive heating oil prices in the area. Our goal is to provide you with excellent products and services. When you choose us to be your oil supplier, you can rest easy knowing that you will have correct and prompt heating oil deliveries at the best possible prices. Furthermore, we offer various heating oil delivery plans and financing options as a way to customize your oil deliveries. Be sure to call us today to learn more.

Tevis Energy has certified and highly trained HVAC technicians to cater to all your heating and cooling needs. We guarantee that each of our techs has the experience, skills, and knowledge to provide excellent HVAC services. Our team can assist you with installations, repairs, maintenance, and much more. Our superior HVAC solutions always come at affordable costs, and we back all of our work with a guarantee.

Call us today to learn more about the products and services our company offers. We provide free, in-home estimates. Click the link to view our service area.

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