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Heating Oil 101: Reading A Heating Oil Tank Gauge

Written on: January 11, 2021

oil tank gauge pennsylvaniaIf you’re a will-call heating oil delivery customer, one of the most important tasks you have is keeping a close eye on your heating oil tank gauge. The good news, if you haven’t done it before, is that it’s a pretty easy skill to master.

Oil Gauge Reading Basics

  • Usually located on top of the tank, your heating oil tank gauge is a clear glass or plastic tube marked with the same kind of numbers you’d find on the gas gauge of your car (F, ¾, ½, ¼, etc.). A red marker or float indicates the amount of fuel left in your tank – if it is at the bottom of the gauge or not visible at all, your tank is empty or near-empty.
  • A typical heating oil tank has a stated capacity of 275 gallons (340- and 420-gallon tanks are also common). But beware: the capacity of the tank doesn’t reveal how much heating oil it actually holds. A 275-gallon tank actually holds about 240 gallons or so; the rest of the space is left to allow for air or debris that accumulates at the bottom of your tank. So, if your gauge reads “½” in a 275-gallon tank, you actually have about 120 gallons left – not 135-140.
  • To make sure the gauge is working, carefully remove the outer case and gently press the float down. If it bobs back up to the original position, the gauge is working. If the gauge is not working, contact us –we’ll check it out.
  • A rule of thumb: If outdoor temperatures average about 32° over a 24-hour period, a typical 2,500 square foot house will burn about six or seven gallons of heating oil per day. So, for example, if temperatures are right around the freezing mark and you have a quarter of a tank of oil left in your 275-gallon tank (which, remember, holds 240 gallons), you’ll have enough oil to last about a week (which is why we urge you to call for your heating oil delivery when your tank gets no lower than one-quarter full, especially during cold weather.
  • Many factors influence how much fuel you’ll burn, of course – the outside temperature, the efficiency of your heating equipment, and the efficiency of your home, to name a few. Remember: it’s always better to be conservative and order your heating oil early rather than getting stuck in a no-heat emergency.

    The best way to avoid heating delivery hassles and drastically reduce the odds of a heating oil-run out? Sign up for automatic heating oil delivery from Ace-Robbins. With automatic delivery, we’ll estimate your delivery date based on your past use and the current weather, scheduling your delivery when your tank reaches about one-quarter full. The service is absolutely FREE – no service charges, no fees, no worries. Contact us today to learn more.