• Home
  • Resources How Often Should I Service My Heating Oil Furnace & Tank?

how often service heating oil furnace tank

When the hot summer days come to a close and winter draws closer, you’re going to want to turn your HVAC system on to bring comfort to your home. Your heating oil furnace keeps you comfortable, but it also keeps you safe from extremely cold temperatures in the winter.

When your heating oil furnace and tank aren’t properly taken care of, its efficiency is impacted. Keeping your oil tank and furnace cleaned and well-maintained is essential for preventing problems while it works to keep you warm in the winter.

Learn More

When Should I Have My Furnace Cleaned and Maintained?

You will want to have maintenance performed on your furnace at different times of the year because each type of maintenance serves its unique purpose. The different types of maintenance include:

  • Preventative maintenance: As the name implies, preventative maintenance is done to prevent any potential problems with your furnace. It’s almost like a check-up performed on your heating system. You might have old parts replaced to keep everything at peak performance, even if the part isn’t yet broken or seems to be working fine. Conducting regular preventative maintenance ensures your furnace continues to run smoothly each time you use it.
  • Reactive maintenance: You’ll have reactive maintenance done in response to a problem. Some parts may wear down and break over time, or a component might die for no apparent reason. Performing preventative maintenance regularly can reduce the number of times you have to conduct reactive maintenance, but accidents can still happen, and you may need to replace or repair parts from time to time.
  • Scheduled cleaning: Your furnace should be cleaned of buildup to ensure your heating system remains operational. Scheduling a cleaning keeps the necessary combustion process working smoothly and prevents dangerous gases and other toxins from building up and potentially entering your home. The components of your furnace will also operate more efficiently when it’s cleaned regularly.

It’s best to hire a professional to perform maintenance and cleanings on your furnace. They have the expert knowledge that allows them to ensure your furnace is performing efficiently and effectively. You’re also less likely to damage your furnace when you hire a professional, and you’ll save time and money by getting it right the first time.

scheduling a cleaning

How Often Should You Perform Each Type of Maintenance?

Each type of maintenance needs to be performed at different intervals to ensure your furnace is functional through the winter season. The frequency of your maintenance will also depend on various factors.

Preventative Maintenance

Preventative heating oil maintenance should be performed at least once a year to determine if any of your furnace components need to be replaced or upgraded. The best time to perform this type of maintenance is before the winter season when you’re going to be using your furnace the most. You’ll want to know that you can rely on your furnace when the cold weather rolls around. If you use your furnace more often in a colder environment, you may want to schedule maintenance every six months.

It’s best to hire a professional to perform preventative maintenance because they’re equipped with the knowledge to determine whether or not you need an upgrade. They’ll also give you the reassurance that your furnace is operating as it should.

Reactive Maintenance

Reactive maintenance only needs to be performed when required. When something breaks down or needs to be replaced, the reaction is to repair the damage or order new parts. There’s no need to have a regular schedule for this type of maintenance.

Scheduled Cleaning

Scheduled cleaning should also be performed annually before the start of the winter season. This removes any buildup and ensures your furnace is ready to use. However, some people live in areas where there’s cold weather for more than just a single season. Prolonged use of your furnace may call for two cleanings a year to remove buildup and keep your furnace in good condition.

You might be able to clean a furnace on your own without the need for a technician. However, if it’s been a long time since your furnace has been cleaned or you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing, hiring a professional is the best course of action. In addition to ensuring the cleaning is performed correctly, a professional can do a thorough job and determine if any additional problems exist once the cleaning is complete.

When Should You Replace Oil Tank Filters?

Changing your oil tank filter regularly will help your heating system last longer, saving you time and money in the future. Debris and particle buildup can prevent your oil tank from working efficiently, impacting your home’s comfort levels.

Generally, you should replace your oil tank filters at least once a year. The best time to change the filter is in the fall, right before the temperature starts to drop. Add it to a to-do list for your chores around the house, so it’s easier to remember. Replacing your filters in the fall allows you to prepare your furnace for the colder months.

If you don’t change your oil tank filter until the end of the season, your filter may become so clogged that you won’t be able to use your oil tank when you need it most.

When Should You Replace Furnace Filters?

Furnace filters protect your indoor air quality and your furnace by trapping particles. When you don’t change your filter, these particles won’t be trapped and can impact the quality of your health. If someone in your home struggles with a respiratory condition, such as asthma or allergies, a dirty filter will worsen their condition.

change furnace filter every 3 months

In general, you should change your furnace filter every three months, but some factors may require more frequent replacements, such as:

  • Owning a pet: Pets track dirt and other debris into the home, and the fur that they shed further adds to the particles that needs to be
    filtered out of the air. These extra particles can dirty your filter more quickly than normal, requiring more frequent changes. If you have more than one pet, you may want to increase how often you change the filter even more.
  • Leaving windows or doors open: If you open your window or doors frequently, you’re letting additional contaminants into your home. These contaminants will get trapped by your furnace filter, dirtying it more quickly. The more often you leave your doors and windows open, the more often you’ll need to replace your filter.
  • Smoking inside: If a person or multiple individuals in your home smokes indoors, additional contaminants will need to be filtered through your furnace filter to maintain the air quality. The rate at which these individuals smoke will impact the frequency that you need to change your filter.
  • Excess dust: Furnace filters are meant to trap dust that naturally occurs in the home, but some homes are dustier than others. Excess dust sometimes exists in older homes, but other factors contribute to dust accumulation, such as multiple people living in the home, pets and other outside forces. The extra dust can eventually clog your furnace filter if you don’t replace it often enough.
  • Continuous fan operation: If you run one of your HVAC fans constantly, your furnace filter will become dirty sooner, requiring more frequent filter changes.

If any of these factors apply to your home, you should start by changing your filter at least once every two months. If your furnace filter still seems to get dirty quickly and you see no improvements, you can start changing your filter once every month. Changing your filter frequently will help improve the air quality in your home for individuals who have respiratory conditions as well.

A clean filter also allows for better airflow through the furnace, which helps it work more efficiently. This can help to prolong the lifespan of your system since it won’t have to work as hard when it is running.

Factors that Influence the Maintenance Frequency of Your Oil Furnace

While annual maintenance is a general rule, various factors will change the maintenance frequency of your oil furnace. These factors do not apply to every homeowner, but it’s essential to consider each of these carefully to determine if you need to adjust the details of your maintenance schedule:

  • Usage: Like anything else, when you use your oil furnace more often, you will need to perform frequent maintenance to prolong its efficiency. Some people use their furnace every day through the winter season, meaning they’ll need more maintenance to keep it operational. Other homeowners choose to only run their furnaces on the coldest winter days. Regardless of how often you use your furnace, you should still conduct maintenance at least once a year to ensure everything is working as it should.
  • Fuel quality: The quality of the fuel you use will determine how soon you need to schedule maintenance.  High-quality fuel with winter additives or blends can benefit your entire heating system, reducing the amount of maintenance you need to do. Low-quality fuel will do the opposite. In general, it’s a good idea to use high-quality fuel if you can to improve the performance of your furnace.
  • Fuel contaminants: The quality of your fuel can be impacted by contaminants, such as dirt, rust, residue, or other elements. Furnaces aren’t able to operate efficiently with contaminated fuel, and it can eventually cause damage to multiple components throughout the system. You’ll need to perform reactive maintenance more frequently if your fuel is contaminated.
  • Water contaminants: Your fuel lines can become contaminated with water from flooding, excessive humidity, burst pipes, or various other causes. Water can degrade the quality of your fuel, but it can also cause damage to your furnace. If damage occurs, you will need to contact a professional to perform reactive maintenance to keep your furnace operational. You can test for water contamination in your fuel during your annual maintenance checks to prevent any damage.
  • Seasonal differences: You likely won’t use your furnace in the summer months, but you could be using it nearly every day when winter comes around. When you’re not using your furnace for long periods, you won’t need to perform maintenance, but before you turn it on, you’ll want to conduct your annual service and fix any potential problems. When you’re creating your maintenance schedule, keep the time of year in mind and plan to schedule your appointments before the winter season begins to ensure everything is working and to avoid scheduling delays.

plan maintenance before winter

Benefits of Maintaining a Consistent Service Schedule

Some people think that the only time maintenance is needed is when a problem occurs. While reactive maintenance is important, having a consistent service schedule can prevent issues before they happen.

There are other benefits to regularly servicing your heating oil furnace, including:

  • Increased efficiency: As time passes, parts of your furnace may stop working as efficiently as they once did. You may not be aware that this is happening. If you perform regular preventative maintenance, you’ll be able to catch problems sooner and increase the efficiency of your furnace. Increased efficiency keeps your home warm and comfortable for you and your loved ones.
  • Improved air quality: Part of regular maintenance is changing your furnace and oil tank filters. Your furnace filter is responsible for trapping dust and other particles that exist in the home. When you don’t change your filter regularly as part of your service schedule, these particles can’t be filtered efficiently. Your indoor air quality will decrease, and people in the home with allergies or respiratory conditions might have more symptoms. Changing your filter according to a set schedule keeps your air quality healthy and breathable.
  • Reduced costs: Efficient furnaces cost less than those that don’t run efficiently. When your furnace isn’t running at its optimal efficiency, it will use more energy to perform as it should. The more energy your furnace uses, the higher your monthly bill will be. When you perform preventative maintenance regularly, you ensure your furnace is running at optimal efficiency, reducing the amount of energy your furnace requires and the cost of your energy bill.
  • Improved reaction time: Reactive maintenance is a part of any service schedule, but it can be difficult to spot a problem until it has become obvious. Annual preventative maintenance can help you spot damage to components before they prevent your furnace from working. Spotting damage sooner rather than later can also save you time and money from having to fix or replace components.

A regular maintenance schedule will also help make your furnace last as long as possible. You’ll get the best out of your investment if you perform regular service.

Choose Shipley Energy for Your Preventative Heating Oil Furnace and Tank Maintenance

Shipley Energy believes that heating your home should be easy. We’ve been providing our clients with fast and reliable service for over 90 years. With our 24/7 service on any day of the year, you can rest assured that we have all of your heating oil needs covered.

Choose from one of our many service plans to add protection to your furnace and tank. You can rely on our technicians to provide you with friendly and knowledgeable service. Get in contact with our team today to get started.

contact Shipley Energy