Oil Heater Safety and Fuel Storage Tips for Winter

November featured frequent bouts of early-season arctic air and snow, setting extreme weather records all over the nation. Buffalo, New York reported seven feet of snowfall resulting in structural damage, lost heat and much more. Wintertime on the East Coast can no doubt bring cold days and blistery nights, so it’s best to be prepared for the extreme. Because when your heat stops functioning, it’s not just inconvenient, it can be dangerous.

New Jersey homeowners who rely on oil heat should to take some time to look at their heating systems before the really cold weather sets in. We saw the damage of the snow in Buffalo collapsing roofs; heavy weight from snow and ice can also cause serious damage to your fuel storage system. There are some simple oil heater safety precautions you can take to keep your heating system (and family) safe this winter from these extreme elements.


As temperatures drop, diesel oil can congeal, preventing it from flowing properly. Shelter and insulate the fuel tank and especially the fuel supply pipe.

Use a Broom

After the snow falls, use a broom to clear the snow. Put the shovel away though, it may damage the tank. And be aware of icicles and snow that may fall off your roof and onto your tank.

Fill er’ Up

More heating fuel is used during cold temperatures, so order ahead of time. Keep the supply tank as full as possible because space in above-ground tanks generates condensation and results in water in the fuel.

Shovel a Path

Clear your driveway of snow and ice. Safety is our first concern when delivery heating fuel to your home. Also, shovel a path to your oil fill pipe or tank and mark the location with a stick or flag.
The Department of Environmental Protection encourages homeowners to also consider these oil heater safety tips:

  •  For safety reasons, always assume the tank contains at least some oil;
  •  Routinely inspect the exterior of the tank and all attached equipment;
  •  Check for signs of rusting or corrosion on the tank and its structural supports;
  •  Examine the tank’s fill line and feed line to the furnace for leaks;
  •  Never tip over or empty a tank on the ground;
  •  Enlist a professional to perform maintenance or alterations to a heating oil tank system; and
  •  Recognize that wet spots or odors near the tank may signal an oil tank leak problem.

With our unremitting team, you can count on Lawes Home Comfort Specialists to keep you comfortable and warm this winter season. And our fuel is of the highest and cleanest (low-sulfur) quality around, so you know you’re making the best decision. Lawes is a proud member of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey and the National Oilheat Research Alliance’s (NORA) OilHeat American.