How To Read An Oil Tank Gauge

All Heating Systems Fuel
basics of reading an oil tank gauge

Do you know how to read your oil tank gauge?

It may seem obvious, but down in the basement with the spider webs tickling your nose and the family upstairs yelling about being cold, may not be the best time to figure out how to read an oil gauge. Don’t wait until you have to read it, check it out when you have plenty of time and it’s not an emergency.

Your oil tank is likely down in the basement; if not, it’s outside somewhere close to the house—you can’t miss it, it’s a big metal tank.

Sticking up on the top of the tank is a clear (glass or plastic) tube with a red float inside and markings on the outside: F, ¾, ½, ¼. The numbers reflect how much of the tank is full. The red float will be aligned with the appropriate mark. If the float is aligned with the ½ mark, you have half a tank. If the float is at the bottom of the gauge or not visible then your tank is empty or close to empty.

But how much is half a tank?

Most oil-heated houses have a 275-gallon tank which, when full, holds approximately 225 gallons. So, if the gauge is at ½ you have about 110 gallons, if it’s at ¼ you have about 55 gallons, and at ¾ you have about 170 gallons.

How fast will you burn that?

If the outside temperature averages 32° over a 24-hour period and your house is around 2,500sq.ft house you'll likely burn about 6.5 gallons per day. So if you have half a tank and it’s cold out, you’ll get through it in about 17 days.

To make sure the gauge is actually working, 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, call us, and we’ll come take a look. Either way, don’t forget to replace the case.

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