The first rule of oil-fired heating is a pretty basic one — don’t run out of oil! Unfortunately, run-outs are part of our fuel delivery business. It’s important to avoid a run-out because if one occurs, your oil line can become filled with air and sludge. When this happens you will not be able to generate heat until the air is bled out. Because of this, the solution may not be as simple as just replenishing your heating oil and turning your system back on.
Once you’ve had your oil tank refilled by a reliable delivery company, the next step is to hit the reset button. You should never hit the reset button more than twice; pressing it repeatedly can cause fuel to collect in the combustion chamber and lead to a potentially dangerous “puffback” situation. After you press the reset button, the furnace should start working again on its own. If it doesn’t, the fuel line will need to be bled. This can only be done if there is oil in the tank — bleeding the furnace will do no good if your tank is empty when you start the process. Typically, the reason for bleeding the furnace has to do with fuel levels, but letting the oil completely run out increases the likelihood that the oil line will need to be bled before your furnace can start up again.
Though bleeding the oil line is something that can be done by a handy homeowner, we recommend that you call a professional. Also, if bleeding doesn’t work, there is probably something else wrong with your system, and you will need a technician to evaluate your furnace.
Fortunately, your best defense is a simple one: plan ahead and don’t let your tank run out of oil. Paylessforoil.com recommends ordering your heating oil when your gauge is on ¼ of a tank. At this level, a 275-gallon tank will have about 70 gallons of oil remaining and a 330-gallon tank will have about 80 – more than enough fuel to keep you warm until your delivery arrives. This will save you money and help keep the heat on through those cold nights.