Winter Weather & Heating Oil Protection: Preventing Freezing in the System

Whether you store your heating oil in an above-ground or underground storage tank, the winter months are a potentially hazardous time. Just as the cold temperatures can cause uninsulated water lines to freeze, the winter cold can also cause your heating oil to freeze. With winter weather approaching, it's important that you understand the fundamentals of these risks and what you can do to minimize them.

How Easily Does Heating Oil Freeze?

Heating oil holds up to some pretty cold temperatures. Temperatures can drop below freezing and your heating oil should still flow. Heating oil will become cloudy when it gets that cold, but the cloudy appearance doesn't interfere with the oil's flow through the fuel lines.

However, the colder the temperature gets, the greater your risk of problems. When temperatures are consistently colder than 20 degrees, the heating oil will crystallize, causing it to separate from the heating oil itself. The crystals will clog the heating oil's distribution lines, interrupting the fuel flow and ultimately leading to frozen, clumped crystals throughout the system.

How Can You Keep Heating Oil From Freezing?

Despite heating oil's vulnerability to significantly cold temperatures, you can help to protect it with a few simple steps. One of the first things to consider, if you have an above-ground tank, is installing a tank insulation wrap. These wraps will cover the entire tank, protecting it from the effects of the cold weather. You can also add insulation to the fuel lines themselves. The lines that run from the tank to your home are typically always exposed to the cold, making them the first components to freeze. Cover all of the fuel lines with waterproof insulation to protect those lines from freezing.

When you have the tank and pipe infrastructure installed, have the oil filters placed inside the building. This moves the filters further from the tank, but it reduces the risk of freezing inside the filter, which is a serious risk. You can also reduce the likelihood of freezing by opting for heating oil that is blended. Blended heating oil can withstand colder temperatures because the components freeze at colder temperatures. Your heating oil supplier can help you choose the right blend for the climate in your area.

The more you understand about protecting your heating oil from freezing, the easier it is to avoid the problem. Work with a heating oil supplier for more help and to protect your heating oil system from the winter weather.