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Heating Oil Basics: Reading a Tank Gauge

how to read a heating oil tank gauge southeastern massachusetts northern rhode island

If you don’t receive automatic heating oil deliveries from W.H. Riley & Son, one of the most important tasks you have is to monitor how much heating oil in your storage tank. To do that, you’ll need to know how to read your tank gauge – plus a few other things, as you’ll see in a moment.

Here are some basics to checking the levels in your oil storage tank:

  • On top of the tank is a clear plastic cube marked with numbers that look a lot like a car’s fuel gauge: F, ¾, ½, ¼, etc. A red marker or float typically indicates the amount of oil in the tank; if the float is at the bottom of the gauge or not visible, your tank is empty or nearly empty.
  • The most common size for a heating oil tank is 275 gallons, but it’s important to note that a 275-gallon tank does not actually hold 275 gallons of heating oil. The actual capacity is closer to 225 gallons of fuel; the rest of the space is needed to account for air or debris that collects at the bottom of your tank. This is important because it means that when your gauge reads “½”, you actually have about 110 gallons left, not 140. Other common tank sizes include 340 and 420 gallons.
  • An average 2,500 square foot house will use anywhere from five to eight gallons of heating oil per day if the temperature outside is at or about the freezing level. That means that if you have a quarter of a tank of oil left in your 275-gallon tank (which, remember, holds only 225 gallons), you’ll have enough fuel to last about a week. This is why we urge you to contact us for a heating oil delivery when your tank reaches about one third full. The colder it is outside, or the larger your home is, the faster your heating system will consume fuel oil, so please keep this in mind when you order heating oil.
  • To make sure the gauge is working properly, 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.

For reliable heating oil delivery in northern RI or southeastern MA, no one beats the pros at W.H. Riley & Son. Contact us today to join our family of customers!