Three Myths About Oil-Based Heating – Busted Wide Open

Oil-based heating systems used to be quite common, but today, natural gas-based heating systems are more prevalent. Also, a lot of homeowners assume that if a home has an oil-based heating system, they need to tear it out and replace it with a natural gas system. But this is not as necessary as you might assume. There are a lot of false myths floating around about oil heating, and once you learn the truth, you might think twice before scheduling that costly heating system replacement.

Myth: Oil heating is dirty and will leave soot in your home.

This was true of the early oil-based heating systems that were popular decades ago, and sadly, the reputation of being dirty and sooty has followed oil-based heating to this day. But today's oil-based heating systems are very clean-burning. This is the case for several reasons. First, the oil that's available today is more pure, which leads to a cleaner burn with less soot. Second, modern oil furnaces are more efficient, which means they burn the oil more completely, leading to less waste being exhausted into the air. You'll need to have a heating professional come clean the soot out of your furnace's interior every year or so, but you should not have to worry about soot accumulating around the furnace or throughout your home.

Myth: Storing heating oil on your property is not safe because the tank might explode.

Oil has to be heated above 140 degrees F and vaporized before it will catch on fire. This is what your furnace does. Oil won't just spontaneously explode, and if you drop a match into liquid oil, it will actually go out! The only real problem you need to worry about when storing oil on your property is leaks. Oil leaks will damage the soil and can contaminate the groundwater. But luckily, it's easy to detect a leak by looking over the tank carefully and having it repaired or replaced if you spot any rust or corrosion.

Myth: Heating oil is in short supply and may run out soon.

Some homeowners replace their oil-based heating systems thinking they're wise to do so before the supply of oil runs out. This myth originated years ago before oil companies were able to access the oil beneath U.S. soil. Now, thanks to new oil harvesting technologies like hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. has access to plenty of oil -- obtained domestically. This means that oil supplies won't just be cut off one day due to war or foreign unrest. Though there is a finite amount of oil in the world, experts estimate it will last another 53.3 years, and that's not taking into account any oil deposits that have not yet been discovered. Natural gas is limited, too, so switching from oil to natural gas does not really make sense if you're doing so just to avoid using a limited resource.

If you have an oil-based heating system in your home, it's not a bad idea to just stick with it. Heating oil is cleaner, safer, and more abundant than you've probably heard -- and you'll save yourself the expense of ripping it out and starting over with natural gas.

For more information about oil-based heating systems and heating oil itself, contact companies that supply oil or visit websites like