Approximately 5.5 million households in the United States use home heating oil as their primary source of heat during colder months. If you use oil to heat your home, you may be wondering if it can go bad and how to tell when the fuel has expired. Here’s what you should know.

How Long Does Oil Last?

If you have leftover oil at the end of the winter, it will most likely stay usable through the summer. Home heating oil typically has a shelf life of anywhere from 18 to 24 months. However, there are steps you can take to extend its longevity.

home heating oilFirst, make sure your supply has additives that stabilize the oil so it retains its combustibility for longer. Also, don’t use a tank that was used for paint, gasoline, or motor oil. The contaminants are likely still inside and will contribute to bacteria growth and the degradation of your oil.

How Can You Tell if the Oil Is Bad?

While it’s unlikely your home heating oil will go bad during the summer, contaminants can affect its quality. The biggest sign will be the smell. Enough bacteria in the oil will cause sludge to form, and there will be a foul odor in your tank.

When your system is functioning properly, you should hear a gentle roaring sound as the oil is injected into the furnace. If there’s a loud bang instead, that’s indicative of oil collecting in the ignition chamber and igniting with more force than the system is designed to handle. Replacing the fuel often solves this problem.


When you need oil to heat your home, contact Main Energy, Inc., of Palmyra, NY. This family-owned oil delivery company provides high-quality products at affordable prices. They deliver gasoline, propane, diesel, kerosene, and home heating oil to customers throughout Upstate New York. Call (315) 597-5200 to schedule your next no-hassle fuel delivery, or learn more about their services online.