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Would you buy a house with oil heat?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Coco, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    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.
  2. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    Are you talking propane? We have propane and it is expensive.
  3. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. Really

    Really I need a new title

    Looks like you get all kinds of info on various types of home heating fuel here.
  5. ilovesalchows

    ilovesalchows Well-Known Member

    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!
  6. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    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!
  7. KatieC

    KatieC So peaceful

    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.)
  8. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    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?
  9. Badams

    Badams Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. mikey

    mikey ...an acquired taste

    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.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2012
  11. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2012
  12. Parsley Sage

    Parsley Sage Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    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?
  14. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2012
  15. Reuven

    Reuven Official FSU Alte Kacher

    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.
  16. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    Very little experience with oil, but I agree that it is expensive, but i think prices are falling again. Get the previous owner's utility records to get a feel for what you will be paying.

    We are in a house with propane. Switched suppliers a year ago and we cut our bill by a third. Yes, that much difference in suppliers - the higher priced one "owned" our tank, so we dug it out and installed a new one. Was a one-year payout. Then we added a solar hot water heater. Most days, the solar heated water is over 120 degrees, so it is topped off just a little with electric. Propane bill dropped another 25 percent. Electric went up by $5 a month -- another 1-2 year payout for the system.
  17. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    I've never heard that. In my family, we call the thing that heats the house a "furnace." If it's also heating the hot water, it's a "boiler."

    We had a behemoth (6'lx4'wx5'h) in our first house's basement that had been converted from coal to oil to gas. We had to run it year-round if we wanted hot water, so we had a gas hot water heater installed. That saved a lot of money since the behemoth was old and not energy-efficient. The people we sold the house to replaced it with a modern system that was a quarter of the size!

    In our current house, we replaced the second-floor gas hot water tank heater with a laundry-room Rennai "continuous hot water" heater. Tremendous difference on the bills and we really don't run out of hot water.
  18. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

    Lots of people in my area have oil heat; we all have all-electric houses here, so no gas furnaces.

    Oil heat is expensive, but according to my neighbors, it's not as expensive as all-electric heat, and certainly isn't as drying.

    You do have to be careful with the tanks and have them inspected for leaks.
  19. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    In this part of the US, oil heat is very common. Home heating oil. I've never lived anywhere without it.

    A boiler sends water through the heating system. A furnace does not.
  20. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

    we have oil.. gets delivered every 6 weeks or so to a tank in the basement.. no issues, no problems.. we checked with our neighbours and worked it we are paying about $500 a year more for oil.. but I also refuse to wear a sweater in the cold weather :shuffle: we are considering getting gas put in.. again not a major deal so I wouldn't say no to a house because of oil.. we have a double brick ranch style bungalow - 3 bedroom.. it heats the house fine.. no aroma either.. we have been here 21 years and no issues..
  21. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    If everything else about the house was GREAT and wasn't likely to cost me tons of money, I might consider it, but oil and propane are both well below natural gas on my list of preferred heating. (I like gas--geothermal racks up the electricity bill to run the blowers, though it's still cheaper than having oil or propane delivered, and gas allows you to have gas stoves, which I vastly prefer to cooking on electric.)

    It would also depend on the system--when I was looking, I passed on one house that had oil more because the furnace was coal converted to oil. It was ancient.
  22. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    I wouldn't have a problem but it sounds like it's a deal breaker for you.
  23. Blue Bead

    Blue Bead New Member

    I have oil heat, in a 13 room farm house, yet. It can be very expensive if the house is not very well insulated. It would be good to find out how old the tank is, as the older ones are not double-walled. Single walled tanks can develop leaks under certain conditions and those leaks are extremely expensive to deal with when the oil escapes and saturates your basement flooring.

    Double-walled tanks are much less likely to develop a leak. Incidently the leak develops due to moisture or water trapped in the tank, due to condensation which develops when the furnace isn't being used over long periods. So, it makes sense to keep the tank filled during the off-season to prevent this kind of occuance. Heating oil tanks develop leaks from the inside out. I learned this the hard way four years ago when my outside tank, a single-walled one, had an undetected leak. The weak spot in the tank's bottom let go during a cold winter's night and drained into my basement. I awoke to a horrific odor of heating oil throughout my house. To make along story shorter, the fire department and the EPA were involved and fixing the whole problem cost me nearly $20,000!

    If you decide to go ahead with the purchase of that house, find out who is the best heating oil repairman in your area and have him vet out the furnace and take care of its needs.
  24. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    Wow, thanks for all this info everyone!

    I knew FSU would provide a fountain of information :)

    Blue Beard's story aside, I think I could handle it for a few years before I convert the whole system and add central air.

    I'm thinking I'd put some kind of liner under the tank and look into getting a new line run, as the existing one is under the basement floor.
  25. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    I have lived with oil heat all my life. This year I have to have to have the oil tank in the basement replaced - it's 50+ years old and while it doesn't leak (and never has), the fill and vent pipes need to be replaced, which can't be done separately because the tank is mounted to the ceiling and has to be moved to access the pipes. Ceiling mounting is now against code so once they take the tank down, they can't remount it and it's so old they can't guarantee that it won't leak after moving so it's being replaced.

    My house has 8 rooms, five of which are heated with the oil furnance (forced hot water) and the second floor two rooms heated with electric baseboard registers. The cost of heating the two second floor rooms for a typcial New England winter has been equal to or greater than heating the rest of the house with oil.

    Oil prices fluctuate greatly. Shop around for the best prices but keep in mind that cheap fuel doesn't always come with good service. I pay a few cents more a gallon to a company that services my furnace annually and has emergency call service - which I've used exactly twice in the last 15 years.
  26. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    We put a new oil furnace in our house about a year ago, after the old one was destroyed by Hurricane Irene. The new one is very quiet and efficient, and it heats our hot water as well as giving us heat. We have unendingly available hot water, which I like.

    We also have gas for our kitchen stove, so no loss there.
  27. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    When we were looking for houses about 10 years ago, the agent showed us one with electric heat throughout. We looked at him like he was nuts. And he laughed. Electric heat in the northeast is :lol::eek::scream: I can't imagine it for an entire house up here. At least yours is only in two rooms!

    How much would it cost to hook those rooms up to the central heating system in your house, I wonder?
  28. Stormy

    Stormy Well-Known Member

    We have oil heat in our home, and it's expensive! We're actually changing it over to gas heat this year to get rid of having oil. The gas company will be installing lines at some point soon. I'll be happy to be rid of oil.
  29. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    Way too much, which is why they're electric. Now that I'm alone in the house, I don't use the second for much beyond storage and the occassional houseguest, so I don't turn the lectric heat on much. I keep the doors closed in the colder months anyway.

    Gas scares me. In my experience, gas lines rupture and explode more often than oil tanks leak. And a leaking oil tank usually only affects the house the tank is in. Gas fires can level an entire block and you're dependent upon the city/gas company to maintain the lines. My aunts heated and cooked with gas; I can't tell you how many times they went without both while the lines down the street from them were being "repaired."
  30. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    New Englander here, too. I've never lived in an area with gas service. Yes, it's pricey, but if you get a good oil company, they'll tune the furnace and check the connections to makes sure you're not wasting any fuel. Our oil line is just below grade in a plastic sleeve as required by our building code.

    When we bought the house, the tank was underground in the front of the house. As a condition of sale, we had it dug up and replaced by a 250 gallon tank in the basement.