Heating oil, be it for the home or a commercial facility, can be a very good source of warmth. However, it relies on pipes and connections to make the journey from the oil tank to the furnace, and if there is a leak in that pathway, more than a few problems can result. Some are immediate, but others have delayed effects that could end up being dangerous. Homeowners, facility management, and the oil delivery people themselves need to keep an eye out for leaks when using the heat.
Loss of Oil and Money
The immediate effects are rather obvious: A leak means you lose oil, and therefore you lose money as you have to order more oil to keep the tank filled. Even a slow drip can have a noticeable cumulative effect over the season. Plus, leaks generally get worse over time. It doesn't help that heating oil prices can rise as the season goes on, supplies fall, and people order more oil because of the cold. That means you spend more money to replace the oil that leaked out than you paid for the original batch of oil.
Pollution, No Matter Where the Oil Lands
Another issue is pollution. When heating oil stays within the heating system, everything is fine. When it leaks out, however, it can pollute whatever it lands on. If it lands on the ground, it can soak into the soil and pollute the ground. You really don't want even small drops of oil to leak out into the ground, especially if you're in a region where anything the soil absorbs can eventually reach groundwater.
The worst side effect of a heating oil leak is that the risk of a puffback increases. A puffback is an explosion. Heating oil that's in the combustion chamber but that hasn't burned yet can explode when it's pushed in by the pressure from air bubbles in the system. These air bubbles occur when there are oil leaks in the pipes in the system. Puffbacks can happen due to other reasons, too, so if you have a puffback explosion, whether or not you've seen any leaks, you could have other problems in the heating system, too.
Symptoms of leaks can range from the obvious oil spots on the ground to system performance that just isn't working as well as it should. If it seems like you're using a lot of heating oil, too, have the system checked for a leak. You can't be too careful with oil because of the risk a leak poses.
For more information about heating oil, contact a local supplier.