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Can Heating Oil Freeze?

If your heating oil tank is indoors, you’re probably safe.

heating oil Shepherdstown, WV We’ve already had our share of icy weather this winter. In Shepherdstown and elsewhere in the Eastern Panhandle region, January brought many nights of sustained freezing temperatures. We don’t need to tell you that a lot can go wrong when temperatures get this low. Cars won’t start. Home heating systems break down from overwork.

At this time of the year, many of our customers are grateful they use heating oil to heat their homes. It might be numbingly cold outside, but heating oil still generates a robust 138,500 Btu of heat energy per gallon. To put that in context, you would need about 134 cubic feet of natural gas or 41 kilowatt hours of electricity to achieve that amount of heat production.

At Roach Energy, we sometimes hear from customers worried about whether their heating oil can freeze — and what that could mean for their heating systems.

Does heating oil freeze?

In temperatures at or below 16°F, heating oil starts to solidify. It doesn’t turn to ice like water does. Instead, it undergoes a process called “gelling,” transforming into a thicker, viscous, waxy sludge.

What does this mean for your heating equipment? Gelling heating oil will expand and settle on the bottom of your oil tank. This means that less burnable fuel is available for your furnace or boiler. Gelling oil also affects your fuel lines. It builds up inside them and narrows the passage to your heating system’s burners, lowering your heating equipment’s fuel efficiency.

Additionally, your equipment’s atomizing nozzle — which turns heating oil into vapor so it can be burned — can become blocked with gelling fuel. So can your system’s fuel filter. The repair cost to replace these parts may be pricy, not to mention the inconvenience of your heating equipment breaking down.

Is your heating oil at risk of gelling?

If your heating oil tank is located in a basement or attached garage, as most tanks tend to be, you are probably safe from gelling issues. These tanks receive the benefit of heat from your home, which tends to keep them above the “gel point” temperature. The same is true of older underground oil tanks. The ground generally insulates them and lowers the risk of gelling.

Talk to Roach Energy about your heating oil tank.

If your heating oil tank is vulnerable to freezing temperatures, the professionals at Roach Energy can discuss options with you to reduce the risk of gelling. We can insulate your heating oil tank, bury fuel lines or install wider fuel lines to lower the chance of blockages. These are just a few of the options we offer.
We also have solutions for households and mobile homes that need heating fuel with a lower gel point. Roach Energy proudly delivers top-quality kerosene to customers who need it.

Don’t worry this winter that gelling heating fuel will damage your equipment. Reach out to Roach Energy. Together, we can address your concerns and keep you and your loved ones safe and warm.