View Full Version : Would you buy a house with oil heat?

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06-10-2012, 04:08 AM
I don't know anything about it. The tank is in the basement, so no worries about leaks into the soil.

Does anyone on this board have experience living with this type of heating system?

Apparently you can convert an oil heating system to one that uses bio-diesel, but I'm not sure how expensive that is.

Holley Calmes
06-10-2012, 04:37 AM
Are you talking propane? We have propane and it is expensive.

06-10-2012, 04:38 AM
We rented a home with oil heat. Not uncommon in the PNW. It was very expensive to fill the tank. The heat was nice though - not as dry feeling as the gas heat I grew up with. But coming from a place where wen never thought about heat aside from adjusting a thermostat, oil was very, very expensive.

06-10-2012, 05:06 AM
Looks like you get all kinds of info on various types of home heating fuel here (http://www.heatusa.com/).

06-10-2012, 05:08 AM
I have oil. We bought the 1922 bungalow 2 years ago and made sure we had a soil sample so we knew there were no problems with a leaky tank. It is buried on the side of the house. Oddly enough our oil furnace is only 10 years old. The former owner had it replaced. We found out why when we called the gas company to see about getting a gas line. They wanted $6k because we are on a difficult line. So I guess we will have to weigh that option later maybe? We added a propane line into kitchen for the cooktop so we could have gas in there. The oil is expensive but on the flip side my electric bill is only about $60 year round.

On a side note, don't let the tank empty. There will be a little sludge at the bottom and you don't want it getting into the line. We found this out our very first winter. I think we use about $600 in oil per year, by the way. This is a 3 bedroom bungalow in Portland. Sadly I turned it on this morning. Just another Juneuary in Oregon!

Holley Calmes
06-10-2012, 01:32 PM
We spent over $2,000 in propane two winters ago-the really bad one. This past year we spent almost half that, but that was for like 4 months each year. Which is outrageous. We have a lot of glass on the house, which doesn't help. It's fabulous in Spring, Summer and Fall, but the winters are not kind.

We're thinking of just closing the door on half the house during the cold months and living on the kitchen side where there are two bedrooms, a TV and a nice, big stone fireplace!

06-10-2012, 01:54 PM
I live in a house with an oil furnace. The tank is in the basement, never any problems with it, although three years ago the insurance company insisted we replace the tank as it "may" have rust inside. (The tank was probably 40 years old.) So we arranged to replace the tank and got a new one installed, and the new one had rust on it already, on the outside. Apparently that's okay with the insurance company. We have about five deliveries a year - and each is between $400.00 and $600.00. The oil company comes once a year for maintenance, and I replace the filters about 6 times a year. (Don't bother much in the summer.)

06-10-2012, 01:56 PM
I've heard similar stories about propane, but don't know anyone who uses home heating oil. Maybe the seller would fill the tank at closing. It sounds like you have to put more thought into it than natural gas and the payments are not spread out over months.

What are the deliveries like? Do they have to drive a truck onto the yard to get close to the intake pipes?

06-10-2012, 02:46 PM
We rented a house with fuel oil about 7 years ago. It was EXPENSIVE! We were out in the middle of nowhere and they only came on certain days, so if you missed them, you were screwed. :lol: Although I'm sure that it only seemed more expensive because we had to fill the tank all at once and then use the oil throughout the winter where with other heating options, you use then pay monthly or whatever. It was just hard, being a young couple with 2 very young kids, having to throw down a huge lump sum all at once.

06-10-2012, 02:47 PM
My father owns a home heating oil business in Pennsylvania. I worked there several summers when I was in high school. For deliveries, a truck parks in the street and extends a long hose to the oil intake valve. I do remember occasionally hearing about tank leakage into the ground.

ETA: most customers did schedule regular delivery service (perhaps quarterly?) so that the cost averaged out, and so they never ran out.

06-10-2012, 03:43 PM
Propane is different than natural gas and oil; it's sort of a hybrid system: you get the propane delivered and stored in a tank, like oil heat, but the furnace burns the propane gas. I didn't think propane tanks could be stored inside; I think they're always outside because of the possibility of explosions. We both grew up in old houses with city-managed natural gas lines and have had gas in four of our five homes over the years.

We bought one home with oil heat, but we prefer gas heat, so we converted and had the basement tank removed. Gas was far less expensive at the time and the gas company had a good promotion for converting. The new furnace was smaller and more energy-efficient. Removing the tank got rid of the oily smell and gave us extra living space when we finished the basement.

Definitely make sure the inspector checks for tank leaks and rust. Some oil companies offer monthly budget plans,to help manage your cash flow. They also offer scheduled deliveries but you do have to watch the tank and order before it gets too low if you're using more oil than usual. Make sure to get the furnace cleaned annually, so it runs well and uses less fueld.

Parsley Sage
06-10-2012, 03:54 PM
I grew up in a house with oil heat and I think we had to have the tank topped up before the house was sold. I would discuss that with your agent and lawyer.

06-10-2012, 04:00 PM
I live in FL. We have oil heat (kerosene) with a 250 gallon tank.
The tank is outside, near the street. We were advised to keep the tank full, to prevent water seeping in.
Usually, that means one delivery per season. If the weather is unusually cold, sometimes we need "topping off".

Kerosene isn't cheap; but, these days, what is?

06-10-2012, 04:03 PM
I don't know anything about it. The tank is in the basement, so no worries about leaks into the soil.

Does anyone on this board have experience living with this type of heating system?

I've lived with oil heat most of my life because my neighborhood isn't set up for gas heat. No issues with it. I worked it into my offer for the house that the seller had to have it serviced (it was due for an annual servicing) and fill it. Otherwise if the seller just recently filled it, you may be asked to pay the seller the amount that is still left in the tank.

Also check on the age of the tank. My tank is approaching 28 years, so I know I have to replace it soon.

The 1st year I lived in the house, the oil Company calculated what they thought I might use so I could pay smaller payments spread out over 12 months. Well it turns out I used WAY LESS than they calculated. I came off the monthly payments, and just did a pay as I go type situation. My balance from the 1st year was so high, I got my second year of oil completely free because they overestimated how much fuel I'd use. Having an adjustable thermostate kept costs way down.

Then in my 3rd year up to now, I use www.ordermyoil.com
I just order oil when I need it, and this service negotiates the lowest price per gallon available.

06-10-2012, 04:18 PM
Have lived in the Northeast all my life and every place I’ve ever lived has had oil fired heat. As suggested above, don’t let the tank get below 1/4, and once a year get your boiler/furnace cleaned, and the oil filter changed. (2 different things BTW-“Furnace" is forced warm air, “boiler" is hydronic.)
Only other thing I can think of is to be sure the oil line over to the burner is NOT under the slab. If it is, have the service tech run a new line on top of the slab, or overhead, and it should be sleeved. Underslab copper can develop pin holes and leak oil into the soil which is very expensive to clean up. A leaking tank is obvious.