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Does Heating Oil Spoil?

Barrel of oil flame

Most customers (you, probably) buy heating oil several times a year, usually in large amounts; the oil is then stored until it’s ready to be used. But how long can heating oil stay “fresh”, and what are the consequences of burning it after it has sat in your tank for too long?

The good news is that No. 2 heating oil (the most common form of heating oil used in the home) has a decent shelf life of about 18-24 months. That means there’s no need to panic if you didn’t finish up all your fuel after last heating season; it will work just fine six months from now (or less, with the kind of weather we’ve been having).

“Old” oil can still be used, too – it’s just less combustible (meaning that it won’t produce as much heat as new oil). However, you don’t really want to over-rely on this older oil if you want your furnace to function properly: if burning your older oil can’t meet your furnace’s minimum requirement for heat, the furnace will shut off, and you’ll need to call for service to get it up and running again.

Of course 18-24 months is simply an average shelf life for No. 2 heating oil; several factors can influence that number up or down, including:

  • Its exposure to water and bacteria (the most common causes of heating oil breakdown);
  • The condition of your tank; and
  • The presence or absence of life-lengthening chemical additives in the fuel itself.

Having quality oil helps, too – a big reason to buy your heating oil from us, and not a here today, gone tomorrow supplier.

The bottom line: if you get your heating oil from a reputable supplier (like us!), maintain your heating oil tank, and aren’t waiting two years between heating oil deliveries, you should be fine. A good way to avoid having an oil supply that sits too long is to order the right amount of it in the first place – a good reason to use our handy heating oil calculator before placing your order.

For quality heating oil delivered fresh to your home, trust the pros at Q-Dog. Contact us to become a Q-Dog customer today!