oil heating

Check out your tank for signs of rust or leaks

Oil heating is expensive.

An average tank holds about 1000 liters and cost between $1300 and $1500 to fill. Poorly insulted homes with older furnaces can easily use $500 of oil per month.  Oil heated houses are generally a lot cheaper to rent than electric or gas heated homes. Do not get taken in by an attractive low price without taking the time to assess the cost. If you are renting a home which has oil heating, there are a number of things you can do not to get burnt.

When you move in, have the oil in the tank measured by a supply company. They will also confirm that what is in the tank is actually oil. Sometimes, previous tenants fill the tank with water when they move out to avoid paying for the oil they have used.

Look at the tank. In most cases, the tank will indicate which company normally supplies the oil. Call them up and ask about how much oil is normally used in a year. You may need the Landlord’s permission to access this information. If the Landlord refuses, be concerned.

  • Check for a service history. The efficiency of the furnace decreases rapidly if not serviced. Also, check the air filter is changed annually.
  • Avoid renting a house with an indoor tank. Fumes are toxic and can cause cancer and respiratory illness.
  • Don’t rent a house with a rusty or leaking oil heating tank. You may be held responsible for leaks.
  • If you are renting in warm weather, ask to have the heating switched on when you are doing the viewing. Smell the air coming out of the vent. An oily smell is a major warning sign of inefficient combustion. Poor air quality may mean that you have to open windows in winter to get in fresh air.
  • Make sure that the furnace is in a ventilated space. It should not be next to a bedroom. Also, check that the home has carbon-monoxide detectors. If not, buy some.
  • Most delivery companies have a $400 minimum delivery. Make sure you have to cash to refill the tank if you run out.
  • Look for rentals with programmable thermostats and check the programming to make sure that the heat is not set too high and not coming on when you are out.
  • If you are going away for a few days over the winter, turn the thermostat to the lowest temperature. As tenants, you are responsible for maintaining minimal heat to prevent burst pipes.
  • If your Landlord wants you to pay for the oil in the tank when you move in, call a supply company and confirm what a liter of oil costs. When you move out, make sure you get a refund for any unused oil in the tank. These terms should be written in your lease.

Knowledge is power. As a tenant it is important to make sure that you have all of the facts about oil heating. If you have concerns about renting a place with oil heating ask lots of questions and do some research. Try asking the Landlord questions by e-mail, then if there is any confusion later, you will have a written record. Do not forget to ask the Landlord about insulation.

In case of a leak click here

Michael Butterfield
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator
Certified Family Law Arbitrator