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How Much Heating Oil Does My Tank Hold?

heating oil storage tank new yorkDid you know that your “full” heating oil tank isn’t actually full?

That’s because every oil storage tank, no matter what the size or shape, needs at least some room to allow for air, and for the debris that will inevitably settle at the bottom of the tank.

What does that mean for you? If you’re not a Black Bear automatic delivery customer, it could mean quite a lot.

In practical terms, a “full” 275-gallon heating oil tank (the most common sized oil storage tank) will only actually contain about 240 gallons of heating oil. In other words, when your tank gauge reads “½”, you actually only have about 120 gallons left, not 135-140. This can have a big impact on when to order your heating oil if you want to avoid a run-out.

Some other common tank sizes include 340 and 420 gallons, and the same principle applies.

How do I know how much oil is in my storage tank?

As for knowing the actual amount of heating oil in your tank at a given time, there are two basic ways to do it: by far the easiest of these is to use your heating oil tank gauge, if your storage tank has one.

The heating oil tank gauge is a clear glass or plastic cube marked with numbers that look a lot like what you’d find on the gas gauge of your car: F, ¾, ½, ¼. A red indicator shows the amount of fuel left in your tank; if the marker (often a float) is at the bottom of the gauge or not visible at all, your tank may be empty (or close to it). To make sure the gauge is working, carefully remove the outer case and gently press the float down. If it bobs back up to the original position, the gauge is working. If the gauge is not working, contact us –we’ll check it out.

The second way to check your heating oil level is to do it manually; you’ll need a six-foot long stick or dowel and a pencil to do it. Here’s how:

  1. Remove the fill valve cap by turning it counter-clockwise; the fill valve is the larger of the two caps on top of the oil tank.
  2. Insert the stick into the fill hole until the end of the stick rests in the bottom of the tank. Insert the stick slowly and straight.
  3. Mark the stick with a pencil where the stick meets the top of the fill hole.
  4. Pull the stick out of the tank; look at the wet mark to determine how full your tank is.
  5. Thread the cap back onto the fill valve hole until you can no longer turn it by hand.

Have any other questions about your heating oil tank or equipment? Let us know – we’re happy to help. And remember: for reliable heating system installation and heating oil deliveries in Sullivan County, NY no one beats the pros Black Bear.