Safety with Heating Oil

Heating oil is one of the most popular forms of heating for domestic homes. In Northern Ireland it is the most commonly used fuel and it is also used sporadically around England, Scotland and Wales.

Heating oil is mainly used in boilers and furnaces in households and in the United Kingdom is mixed with red dye which has earned the substance the name “Red Diesel”.

Heating and Diesel fuel are very common in nature and are often referred to as distillates due to their similar boiling points and weights; they are classed as an environmental concern due to being hazardous material. Strict regulations have to be adhered to, to ensure they are transported safely and avoid leaking in transit.

Often when thinking of heating oil it can be common to be reminded of misconceptions of the safety of this substance. Heating oil is in fact one of the cleanest and safest oils for domestic use. Heating oil does not burn in a liquid state and therefore is not easily set on fire as is possible with other substances such as gas. Heating oil only has dangers associated with it when there is a leak. This is common with most substances we use to heat the home.

Fumes are not usually dangerous if you can smell them, however they do usually mean that the system you are using requires maintenance and therefore it is worthwhile to be aware of any changes in the smell of fumes. Fumes that are dangerous in regards to heating oils are the ones we cannot smell. Carbon monoxide is the most dangerous of these fumes and is a by-product of combustion whenever a fuel is burned.  The dangers of carbon monoxide are greatly reduced in a home that uses heating oil rather than gas, however, the risk is still present and therefore a carbon monoxide detector is a cheap and efficient device that should be present in every home.

The chance of a fire from using heating oil is extremely remote with the substance being liquid. The oil would have to reach a temperature of over 140 degrees before turning into a vapour which would then be flammable. This makes it safe to use in the home as the chances of fire related accidents are minimised.

Finding leaks in your boiler system can sometimes be difficult and therefore regular checks each couple of years are necessary to ensure proper maintenance. The most common sign of a leak is usually a large spike in consumption. Often a large bill will alert the homeowner of the problem and in getting the system checked a leak will be discovered. Other possible signs of a leak could be a change in the running of your furnace or boiler, an odour around the tank or perhaps sheen on the tank when touched which could relate to a leak. Often a leak is minor and therefore not very visible and so it is worthwhile checking for any of these signs no matter how small and seeking proper maintenance for the boiler. If a boiler system is located outside then changes in the vegetation surrounding the tank, the vents on the tank and rust should be monitored especially in tanks over 15 years old.

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Author: David Khan

One Response to “Safety with Heating Oil”

  1. hostel wrocław said:

    Sep 27, 12 at 3:13 am

    Informative article, just what I was looking for.


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