How to Fill a Home Heating Oil Tank

With fall just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about heating oil again. If you just moved into a house with oil heat, there’s a lot you should know. In this post we’ll break down oil heat basics, including how to fill a home heating oil tank.

Heating Oil is a ‘Delivered Fuel’

Unlike natural gas – which is plumbed through the ground to your house – or electricity – which comes straight into the house as well – heating oil is delivered by a truck. Heating oil trucks usually hold around 2500 gallons and deliver an average of 150-200 gallons at each stop.

Heating oil is delivered via trucks like this one shown here. A hose comes out of the truck and pumps the oil into the oil tank.

Types of Heating Oil Tanks

Whatever type of oil tank you have, always remember to clear a path to your oil tank fill pipe after a snowstorm. This will ensure the driver can make the delivery without any issues.

Remember to clear a path to your oil fill pipe after it snows.

Indoor Oil Tanks

Heating oil tanks are most often located inside of a basement or garage. If this is the case, then the driver will see a fill pipe and a vent pipe extending outside of the house from the tank.

Indoor heating oil tanks will feature a fill pipe and vent pipe outside.

Buried Oil Tanks

Occasionally, a heating oil tank will be buried in the ground. In this case, the driver pumps the oil into a fill pipe sticking out of the ground.

A buried oil tank will often feature fill and vent pipes protruding from the ground as shown here.

Outdoor Oil Tanks

Outdoor oil tanks are the easiest for drivers to deliver to, as the whole tank is visible from outside.

This owner obviously got creative with this outdoor oil tank. You can see the fill and vent pipes at the top.

How to Fill an Oil Tank

The first step to filling an oil tank is placing an order for heating oil online. You can do this by entering your zip code on a site like FuelSnap. Refer to these tank charts to determine how much heating oil to order.

Once you order oil, the truck will come to deliver it. The driver will attach the hose to the fill pipe and begin pumping.

As the oil enters the tank, it will force the air in the tank out of the vent pipe, blowing a whistle. The driver listens to the whistle to know that the tank is not full and he can keep pumping.

The driver stops pumping oil when he pumps the amount ordered, or he hears the whistle stop. The whistle hangs down in the tank and stops whistling when it touches the oil.

When the oil level rises toward the top it eventually touches the whistle, alerting the driver that the tank is just about full. Use a visual gauge shown here, or install a Smart Oil Gauge to get a digital reading of the tank level on your phone.

Paying For Your Heating Oil

If you ordered a ‘Fill’, the oil company will usually authorize a charge on your credit card for a full tank of oil. For a typical 275 gallon tank, this would be about 250 gallons. Once the delivery is made, a refund will typically be provided for any gallons that the dealer could not fit in the tank.

If you are on automatic delivery, expect a credit card charge around the time the delivery is made, or an invoice in the mailbox when you get home.

Happy heating,