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Heating Oil Basics: How to Read an Oil Tank Gauge

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If you’re not a Hocon automatic delivery customer, one of the most important tasks you have is to monitor how much heating oil you have in your storage tank. To do that, you need to know how to read a heating oil tank gauge.

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

  • On top of the tank is a clear plastic cube with markings on the outside that look a lot like numbers you would find on 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 tank is 275 gallons, but it’s important to note that a 275-gallon tank does not actually hold 275 gallons of fuel: the actual capacity is closer to 225 gallons of fuel, give or take. 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 or so!

    Other common tank sizes include 340 and 420 gallons. Capacity is usually indicated on the manufacturer’s nameplate on the side of the tank.

  • 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 – which is why we urge you to call for your 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 your 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.

Did you know that Hocon guarantees that the oil you buy from us will be at least 25¢ lower than the state average?* Now you do! For reliable heating oil delivery at a great price anywhere in our Connecticut service area, no one beats the pros at Hocon!

*State average price is reported weekly by the US Energy Information Administration; oil prices are subject to change on a daily basis. EIA only reports weekly prices from October through March.