Author Topic: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces  (Read 2698 times)

Holyoak

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Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« on: February 05, 2015, 10:15:00 AM »
Please tell me of your experiences with this form of heat.  I have had propane, which was expensive, electric that was expensive per BTU, and gas...  I know FO is a high BTU fuel for a given volume; just the same I imagine it can be very expensive.  How about reliability of FO heat, ever have it gel up, is there a lot of maintenance/cleaning, etc.  In my area, especially older rural homes, FO is very common, and getting NG is not an option.

Thanks for the help.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2015, 10:20:24 AM »
From what I have seen, oil furnaces require substantial maintenance to keep efficient. A contractor I know is a very skilled guy and sometimes has to take a day off of paid work to keep his running properly. Another friend bought a house with a oil furnace and by his account has paid himself back in two years by switching to gas. In my area a modern heat pump seems to be considered preferable to oil.

As I type this I see my neighbor's oil burner just kicked on; it doesn't burn well.

going2ER

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Re: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2015, 10:27:29 AM »
I have oil hot water heat and it can be very expensive. Maintaining the furnace is not difficult for me, my husband does it ;) Honestly we get a new fuel line filter yearly and he takes apart and cleans a couple of things, about 2 hours work total.

However, yesterday we had a zone valve go and he didn't have time to fix it until after work and in the mean time our heating pipes to the upstairs froze. We didn't find any leaks in them this morning as they thawed overnight, but it was something we were worried about.

I have lived in homes with oil forced air as well, and I don't like it as it can be very dusty.

Honestly, if I had a choice I would not go for oil heat. My choice would be for a heat pump.

Glenstache

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Re: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2015, 10:54:11 AM »
We have it at our house, as it is what was in the house when we bought it. How cost effective it is will depend on your local market. You should be able to google the cost per btu for your local market and get a sense of the variability (and the costs for all energy sources will be variable). My guess is that it will be a comparison between propane and heating oil if NG is not available. The mechanical systems are not all that much more or less fuss than natural gas, etc.

Be aware that heating oil tanks can leak, which can result in cleanup costs. It is worth doing a pressure test on a tank if you are buying a home with an older tank. Some states have insurance programs to deal with this; in Washington it is the PLIA program.

The biggest cost differential will come from making sure the structure is well insulated. We reduced our annual heating costs by more than 70% by adding insulation to our home- and no that is not a typo.

If costs were equal for NG or LPG, I would go with those instead of oil just to not have that tank in the ground waiting to spring a leak.

Songbird

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Re: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 11:10:44 AM »
We have had oil furnaces for years.  They require very little upkeep. We change the filter when necessary, usually once a year max, and have it serviced every couple of years (about $80 a time).   Never had problems with leaking storage tanks, or gelling (not even at -20 degrees F), or anything, really.

Honestly one of the easiest options out there.  And not expensive at all right now due to the low oil/gas prices we have at the moment.   I am confused by others experiences that they are a lot of work.  This has not been the case for us in twenty years. 

Now ask me about heating with wood.  :)  That's a competely different animal.  (We supplement with wood).  It is quite a bit of work, and mess, and etc.   But we love it. 


worms

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Re: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 12:01:26 PM »
Oil here! One benefit is that furnace servicing can be DIY which I would be less confident about with gas!

Over here, storage tanks need to be double-skinned, so risk of catastrophic loss is negligible.  Our fuel comes as a non-gelling winter mix, so low temps are not a real problem.  Down side is cost of fuel when prices rise, but there seems to be a strong linkage between fuel types around here, so when oil goes up, so does everything else - including bought-in wood fuel.

kimmarg

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Re: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2015, 12:18:08 PM »
Please tell me of your experiences with this form of heat.  I have had propane, which was expensive, electric that was expensive per BTU, and gas...  I know FO is a high BTU fuel for a given volume; just the same I imagine it can be very expensive.  How about reliability of FO heat, ever have it gel up, is there a lot of maintenance/cleaning, etc.  In my area, especially older rural homes, FO is very common, and getting NG is not an option.

Thanks for the help.

HAVE you looked into heat pumps? We are also on propane in a rural area that's mostly using oil. A high efficency heat pump installed this fall has saved us over $1000 so far this winter and we are warmer than we ever were. We got a Mitsubishi 'hyper heat' model that works down to -20F. Check them out!

atromic

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Re: Opinions on fuel oil furnaces
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2015, 12:53:13 PM »
Oil is a terrible heat source. It's expensive, dirty, and buried tanks leak, even double walled, epoxy lined tanks with cathodic protection to shield against corrosion. 50%-60% of the tanks we sample show some level of contamination beneath them, although the majority of those are older tanks without all the bells and whistles I mentioned above. Cleanups can be extremely expensive, and are unlikely to be covered by homeowner's insurance in most states unless you are dealing with groundwater contamination.

Stay away from oil heating oil unless you have no other choice. If you have to buy a property with a buried tank, have a quality contractor collect soil samples. Soil Samples... Not a pressure test.