Oil heater maintenance. quality of oil

oil_vs_heatpumpOctober 7, 2011

I have an oil air heater only, no water boiler. The heater is about 10 years old. I had nozzle and filter replaced last year and according to the service guy it has probably never been serviced the first 9 years.

Questions:

1. do I really have to change the nozzle and filter every year regardless how many of gallons were used since it was serviced last time?

One of my neighbors hasn't done any maintenance on his for about 10 years now, while the other one does it every year. They used about 700 gallons last winter while I managed to use only 450 gallons since it was serviced.

I'm trying to decide if I want to jump on automatic delivery with 1-2yr service agreement or not. These companies charge about $100-150 a year for coverage, they charge extra 30cents per gallon or so for oil which they want to deliver whenever they want (not when I want), they provide some sort of a warranty which covers 100% of something... and they do free cleaning with nozzle/filter replacement. But at the same time $100 is what I'd probably pay to have it serviced anyway, so the warranty comes for free.

2. do I get the same quality oil from cash company as I would from these full service companies?

3. how does the full service company know if I added 150gallon of oil from some other company? They came out every 3 weeks last year adding 60 or gallons each time, but I asked them not to deliver any more oil in February because I planned to use heat pump. Now my tank if half full and if I decide to save some money (40c per gallon) and use cash company to fill it will my full service company find out? And if so, how? I could have been out for the month of February and\or used my electric heaters extensively

Thanks

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oil_vs_heatpump

to clarify some things - I'm currently on 1yr $150 contract, which expires this month. This company I'm with is about 30-40 cents more expensive then cash company, so the full tank would cost about $100 more. I just hate having them come out whenever they want to and not having any control over that. So, I think the best way to go is to not renew expiring contract, save $100 by getting a full tank from the cash company now and then renew the contract with full service company. This way I'll still have free maintenance (IF I REALLY NEED IT EVERY YEAR), some sort of warranty and ... automatic delivery at inflated price which will end up costing me extra $100 or so + $150 for the contract.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 2:57PM
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saltidawg

In the case of MY oil company, they know I did not get heating oil from another source because in the contract I agreed that they alone would provide my oil and they would track usage and automatically deliver fuel when required.

Unless you are suggesting that the fuel company is choosing to deliver fuel when profit (not price) is higher OR you are suggesting that they are falsifying the number of gallons they say they are delivering, it really makes no difference in usage and thus cost whether they deliver fuel to you once a week or once a year... except for the amount of THEIR fuel in your tank when and if you terminate service. (And you can even control that final tank amount by canceling the auto-fill and maintenance agreement and allow that fuel to be used up.)

Others will likely be able to answer your maintenance questions.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 8:46PM
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oil_vs_heatpump

Well, I'd expect the oil price to be lower not higher when you sing a contract letting them be your exclusive supplier.

However, they won't sell your their $150 per yr service agreement unless you sign up for an automatic delivery. According to them it's not because they want to make that extra money on marked up fuel, but because "they can't trust the fuel quality of other suppliers". That's why I wonder if anyone has any experience with fuel quality from cash companies.

Another thing I have mixed fillings about all these companies - everything is negotiable. You can get 5-10 cents off as a new customer or $100 off or new thermostat and $100 or $150 with no thermostat... It's very much like car dealership when you deciding to signup, but then later they deliver oil whenever they want and at the price they want.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 9:08PM
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berlin

Your best bet is to have your burner service/ cleaning done by one guy and then buy your fuel cash from who is cheapest. It's all the same fuel, anyone telling you different is full of it. The fuel quality will exceed anything a home furnace will require and more often than not it's all coming from the same supplier/fuel terminal for a given area. A tip for trouble-free burner operation is to have two filters in the line and one of them JUST before the burner. be sure you watch the person doing the burner service and cleaning, ask a few questions about what he's doing (but don't get in his way or become annoying) and make sure he's doing everything you paid him for. More often than not, the companies who have customers sign service contracts don't properly service the furnace; this is VERY common. keep the two separate and find a good burner service guy and you'll be better off.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 10:21PM
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bus_driver

The keep-fill does not cost extra in my area. Filling the tank while there is a "cushion" of about 100 gallons remaining in the tank is good because the fresh fill does not stir up the sediment in the bottom of the tank as does letting the tank run dry and then filling it. The two filter suggestion is a good one.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 9:17AM
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oil_vs_heatpump

Do I need to have this service done every year, regardless of number of gallons used? I used around 450 gallons last year, do I need service this year?

Sludge - one of the the oil companies I spoke to said they drop something in the tank to dissolve it or get rid of it. Others don't. Is it needed?

Service plan that covers 100% or whatever. Do I need it for 10 yr old system? Never dealt with oil heaters before, but if anything goes wrong it'd have to be fixed right away and the service call alone would probably be around $100 if not more.

Thanks

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 9:34AM
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berlin

Ideally you would have the service done every year, but if your system is in good shape and your tank is properly pitched you could get away with a service every other year.

Sludge- If your tank is properly pitched you shouldn't have a problem. If it's not all the additives/dispersents in the world won't help. Good filtration, at least two filters with one just before the burner will help prevent problems.

Service plans don't always cover 100% (often they don't cover anything other than the burner) and if they did, I would still be hesitant if they were substantially more than a yearly service for your area. Oil furnaces and their controls are typically very simple and it's unlikely that a service plan will cost less than the once/decade motor or control replacement.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 9:01PM
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oil_vs_heatpump

As far as I know I only have one filter, right near the tank. Also, according to service guy who changed filer and nozzle last year the system most likely was not serviced since it was installed (for the first 9 years or so)

Assuming my system has not been cleaned for the first 9 years, would I need some extra cleaning other then new nozzle and new filter?

What's the purpose of 2nd filter? Just extra filtration? Is it expensive to add it to the line ? My tank is probably 20 years old, I'd assume it has sludge in it. When I bought the house the tank lid outside was off for god knows how long and I'd assume rain water got in it too.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 10:20PM
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neohioheatpump

How much do you spend a year on oil? What part of the country do you live in? If your not paying crazy expensive electricity you could probably heat cheaper with a heatpump. The investment might pay for itself in a very reasonable amount of time.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:47AM
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