How An Oil Furnace Heats Your Home

31 August 2015
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


In areas of the U.S. where natural gas isn't readily available and electricity is expensive, an oil furnace becomes the choice for heating your home. Roughly six percent of U.S. homes use oil heat with many of those in rural and out of the way areas. If you have a cabin by the lake or home in the mountains, oil heat may be your only option. Here is how an oil furnace keeps your house or cabin comfortable on those cool evenings.

A Fuel Trucked to Your Home

Natural gas travels through a series of pipes to your home and electricity along the power lines. But heating oil must be delivered to your home by truck. The heating oil service will fill up a large tank outside of your house. The gas or electric user can take it for granted that their furnaces will have a constant source of fuel. The oil user must manually check that they have fuel in their tank when they need it.

The Oil Furnace

When you turn up the thermostat, oil from the tank outside of the house is drawn into the furnace. The oil is forced through an injector and mixed with air. This oil-to-air ratio must be precise to get the maximum heat from the oil. Periodic inspection and maintenance by an oil furnace specialist is required to keep this system fine-tuned.

The oil and air create a mist which is sprayed into the combustion chamber and ignited. The air is warmed in a heat exchanger and used to warm the house. This heat can be dispersed through the house in different ways.

  • Forced air systems - Air is brought into the furnace from the house and directed into the heat exchanger, where it is warmed and sent back out through ductwork to the various rooms.
  • Hot water systems - The heat exchanger heats a steel or cast iron tank full of water. This warm water is sent out to the house into baseboard units or radiators where radiant heat warms the rooms.
  • Steam systems - In this system, the water is heated enough to create steam and is then sent out to radiators to provide radiant heat to the house.

The waste gases produced by the combustion of the oil in the furnace are sent out through a vent to the outside of the house.

Oil Furnace Maintenance

As with all home furnaces, have your oil furnace inspected at least once a year. Three of the common maintenance issues a furnace technician will address to keep your furnace running efficiently include:

  • Clogged oil jets - This prevents enough oil to enter the combustion chamber and create the oil and air mixture.
  • Improper oil-to-air ratio - Adjusting the jets to get the right ratio means better efficiency and fewer waste gases.
  • Knocking in the oil lines - This indicates that air has leaked into the oil lines to the furnace affecting its performance. The technician will bleed the lines to remove the air and fix the leak where the air is entering the system.

To learn more, contact a company like Self Heating Cooling