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Will your home heating oil freeze this winter?

Many homeowners worry about the effects of cold weather on their home – making sure there are no leaks, that you don’t lose any roof tiles during a storm, that your pipes don’t freeze after a heavy frost or snowfall, and so on. Some people may also be wondering, will your home heating oil freeze this winter too? We’d say it’s highly unlikely given that winters in Ireland tend to be very mild, however it is a concern in extreme temperature drops. Find out more about the circumstances under which your home heating oil could freeze this winter, and what you can do about it.

Home heating oil technically doesn’t ‘freeze’ in that it becomes a solid mass – however, when the temperature drops to -30oC, it can turn into a gel-like consistency (due to the presence of wax in the oil), which makes it less fluid and can lead to clogging in your pipes. This can slow the fuel down as it moves from your tank to the boiler where it is combusted and turned into heating for your home, but as it is unlikely to get that cold in Ireland (we hope!) it’s not really a cause for concern.

More likely is that there will be a small amount of water condensation in your oil tank, which is much more prone to freezing. As the water freezes, it can block the fuel supply lines, making it impossible for the oil to travel to the boiler until the blockage is removed, or melts. So, for this reason it’s a good idea to lag your pipes, water and fuel lines, anywhere where they are exposed and subject to the elements.

To prevent water build up in your oil tank, you to check it around the lock, seals and pipes for any cracks or damage where rainwater could leak in. It is quite difficult to remove water from your tank once it’s inside, so prevention really is better than cure in this case. If you do find that water has gotten into your tank, you’ll need to have it pumped out – by a professional of course. You may also need to have the fuel line flushed and the filters cleaned so really ensure that all potential debris and blockages are removed.

Your home heating oil is very unlikely to freeze this winter, but the cold weather does put a greater strain on your boiler, as it will be relied on more heavily and used more frequently than in the previous summer months. For this reason, you need to have it serviced, to make sure that everything is working as efficiently as it can be, and to flag any potential issues before they turn into full blown problems. Always get a professional to do this – they’ll check for dangerous carbon monoxide leaks too which are potentially deadly.

If you have any other questions on how to keep your home heating oil in good shape this winter, just give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to help.