Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

image of a diesel gas pump used as a home heating oil alternative

Cold winters are just another day for homeowners in the Jersey Shore area. However, even the highly seasoned southern New Jersey residents can encounter temporary setbacks. One we all hope to avoid is our home fuel oil tanks running out of heating oil. The good news is that heating oil delivery has a standard turnaround time of three business days. You can also get service from local oil suppliers that are as quick as 24-hour delivery. However, remember that this still relies on factors like weather and road conditions. There may come a time when you need to opt for heating oil alternatives.

With families at home and the unpredictable weather, you can’t wait for the heating oil delivery sometimes. Diesel may be what you are searching for to use as a heating oil alternative and keep your home warm. However, it is not a simple fill-and-go routine.

Can I Put Diesel Fuel in My Home Heating Oil Tank?

This article discusses all you need to know before you begin putting diesel into your heating oil tank. This comprehensive guide will help you with what to do if you run out of fuel in the middle of winter.

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Inspect Your Home Heating Oil Tank

image of a heating oil tank

One of diesel’s most significant drawbacks is that it is taxed differently from heating oil. Therefore, they are likely to be more expensive. It is vital that you ensure that you need an oil alternative. To do so, examine your oil tank before switching to diesel temporarily.

The most common method to inspect the oil level in your oil system is to check the floating gauge. This device floats on the oil, so it can tell you how empty or full the tank is. You can make sure the float is accurate by removing its plastic cover and pushing it down with your hand. The gauge should bounce back to its original position if the tank has oil. A tank is out of oil if the gauge remains down.

You can also conduct manual oil level checks. Do this by putting a long and thin stick down the tank’s fill tube. All tanks have a critical level of when fuel refill is required. The level depends on your tank’s size. Consult your tank manufacturer to verify your tank’s critical level. The general rule is to order an oil refill when the tank is ⅓ to ¼ full.

If your tank is out of oil, you will want to continue filling your tank with diesel. If not, allow the sediment to settle at the base of the tank and do a burner reset to start it up. Some cases may require bleeding the lines to release the air caught in the system to help the tank restart. This is a messy and complicated process, so it is recommended that you seek professional help if you choose to do this.

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Dangers of Running Low on Oil

image of a homeowner feeling chilly due to running out of heating oil

The most significant danger of a system with low oil levels is shutting down. Many homeowners don’t realize that this can happen quickly. Most tanks will trigger the system to shut down once the critical level is reached and before the heating oil fully runs out.

The shutdown can be due to various reasons. One of these is sediment accumulation at the tank’s base. This issue is more prevalent in tanks that haven’t been cleaned properly. Moreover, many tanks are equipped with feed lines that run from the top of the tank downward. Pipes that don’t extend to the bottom may mean you run out of fuel before the tank is completely empty.

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Diesel as a Heating Fuel Alternative: Safety and Uses

image of safety tips depicting using diesel as a heating oil alternativeIt is time to start using diesel now that you are sure your tank is below critical levels or fully out of heating oil. Diesel is an excellent fuel alternative for heating, but it is only a temporary fix. Heating oil is still the better option.

Aside from being priced higher, diesel has a hotter burn than standard heating fuel. This is not a major problem when used in brief increments, like a few days at a time. However, it may cause lasting heating system damage as time passes because the unit isn’t made to withstand higher temperatures. Using around 5-10 gallons of diesel per day for several days should preserve your tank’s longevity.

How much fuel you consume will depend on how long until you can have heating oil delivered. At most, you shouldn’t require more than 10 gallons per day.
Be sure to keep diesel in properly colored and labeled containers. Yellow ones are used for diesel. This may be a temporary solution, but you can store diesel for up to half a year at a time before it degrades and turns unsafe. You can use additives to extend the diesel’s lifespan, but these come with limitations and needed treatments, so it is not recommended to store diesel for too long.
If you won’t use diesel fuel after using it in your heating oil tank, you can contact your local municipality to ensure the diesel is properly disposed of through hazardous waste collection centers or recycling centers.

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How to Use Diesel Fuel in Your Home Heating Oil Tank

After purchasing diesel in properly labeled yellow containers, you can begin filling your tank.

  • Turn the system off: Make sure your system is completely turned off. Do this using the tank’s thermostat control.
  • Add the fuel: You can add as much as 10 gallons (or more if needed) of diesel into your tank. It is all right to mix the diesel with the leftover fuel. This is actually better to do because this means that your tank didn’t run fully dry. If it did, you might need to bleed the lines of air and ensure that the oil pump, filter, and nozzle are sludge-free. If you aren’t mechanically inclined to conduct this task on your own, catch this issue before your tank becomes empty, so you save time and extra steps.
  • Wait for the sediments to settle: Leave the tank to sit for 10 minutes after filling it with diesel. This allows impurities and sediments to settle at the base of the tank.
  • Restart the system: Turn the system back on. Your home will be heated as usual until you can use heating oil again.

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Get Emergency Fuel Delivery From Lawes Company


If you have low tank levels and do not have a heating oil substitute on hand, call Lawes Company. Our company proudly serves the Jersey shoreline with emergency oil services. This way, homeowners do not have to worry about running out of oil in the middle of winter. We also offer emergency oil services whenever you need a quick solution. Our emergency oil deliveries can usually service your home in a day or less, so you don’t have to rely on diesel for home heating longer than needed.
Consider signing up for automatic fill services to prevent your tank from future empties. You can also get discounted fuel rates, so your tank remains full and your maintenance needs are low.

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Call Lawes Company For Fast & Reliable Oil Deliveries

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Lawes Company offers trusted and affordable heating oil deliveries. We are known for our honest heating oil prices and skilled services. Not only that, but we also offer HVAC services which also impact how much fuel your system requires to keep your home warm and safe.

We offer different heating oil plans and financing options as a way to customize your fuel deliveries to meet your needs. Be sure to contact Lawes Company today to ask for more information or request service. Click the link to view our service area.

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