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Home Heating Oil Additives

Most home heating oil dealers pour a small bottle of fuel additive into your heating oil tank with each fill -- many times without explaning what the additive does, or why you need it.

Ask your fuel oil dealer for specifics about the additives they use, or ask for an empty bottle so you can check the manufacturers claims about the product.

All home heating oil additives are the same, below is a description of some of the benefits offered by various additives.

  • Cleaning Agent - many home heating oil additives contain a cleaning agent which actually disolves built up carbon, varnish and other chemical deposits from your furnace's burner nozzles and pumps. This allows the oil burner to operate more efficiently and can save on overall heating fuel costs. Heating oil is atomized into a fine spray so it can be burned by your furnace. The spray pattern of the atomized heating oil is a key factor in how efficiently the furnace burns and converts the oil to heat. Build-up of varnish, gum and impurities in the nozzle can distrupt the spray pattern and lead to less efficient combustion and waste heating oil.

  • Water Eliminating Agent - due to condensation in your home heating oil tank and the chemical decompostion of fuel oil excess water can accumulate in the tank and subsequently introduced into your burner. Excess water can cause rust problems in the tank, lines and other parts of your home heating system, foul your furnaces filters, and possible lead to rust-through and leaks in the oil tank. In addition, water in your oil tank can lead to the growth of bateria which can also cause buildup of slime which clogs heating system parts. Additives that eliminate water are necessary in Massachusette (and the entier Northeast U.S. region) as the climate changes throuhgout the year will almost definitely cause water to form in your heating system.

  • Anti-Gel Agent- home heating oil has a tendency to gel at low temperatures (below 35 degrees fahrenheit) causing it to flow poorly through the delivery line, filter and nozzles. Many oil fired furnaces have an automatice shut-off which will cause your oil burner to shut down if fuel is not supplied, causing your furnace to go off on very cold winter nights.

  • Oxidation Reducer - oxidation is the chemical effect of oxygen interacting with other substances. In the case of home heating oil, oxidation can de-stabilize the fuel and cause it to break down and be less combutible, (harder to burn). Slowing oxidation insures that your heating oil remains "fresh" and provides the most heating energy.

  • Sludge Disolver - many older home heating oil tanks can have a build up of sludge that has settled out of the oil over the years and accumulated at the bottom of the tank. Sludge disolving agents cause the heating oil to disolve and re-absorb the sludge so it can be burned reducing the possability that the tank will clog and need to drained and cleaned.

There are other benefits to increased burner efficiency, such as the reduction or elimination of environmentally damaging emissions. Chimneys, vents and filters should stay cleaner longer reducing home maintanence costs. New formulations of organic based heating fuel additives which do not contain alcohol are available and will prevent damage that alcohol based additives can cause to gaskets and seals in your oil burner.

(Note: this information is about common heating fuel additives and do not describe 'Bio-fuel' which is a added to petroleum based #2 Home Heating Fuel Oil and is considered more an alternative fuel than an fuel additive).

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