Right-Sizing Your Heating Oil Tank

In our last blog, we talked about considerations for sizing your propane tank. But what if you have an oil-fired system? Here are some key considerations when it comes time to replace the heating oil tank in your Maryland home.

First, know what you have

Before you shop for a new heating oil tank, it’s helpful to know the size of the tank you currently own. When it comes to sizing a heating oil tank, two numbers matter:

  • How many gallons of oil it will hold (its capacity).
  • How big the tank is (measured in height, width and depth).

Capacity is often listed on a heating oil tank’s name plate; if you have an older tank that doesn’t list its capacity, you can estimate it based on the tank’s dimensions. Dimensions are particularly important if your space is limited (see “Other sizing factors” below); write them down, too.

One thing to keep in mind is that your tank will never be able to hold its nameplate capacity, because space must be left for air or debris in the tank. A typical 275-gallon tank (see below), for example, will only hold about 225 gallons.

Know what tank sizes are available

Above-ground home heating oil tanks usually come in set sizes, the most common of which is 275 gallons. Over 90% of the above-ground tanks here in Maryland are 275 gallons, but other common sizes for above-ground tanks include 250, 340, 420, 500, 550, 675, and 1000 gallons (underground tanks can be substantially larger).

Estimating your heating oil needs

An industry rule-of-thumb is that one or two-bedroom homes typically need a 275-gallon heating oil tank, while three- to four-bedroom homes usually need a 300 to 500-gallon tank. This is a little bit of an oversimplification, but it’s a good starting point for a discussion.

Other factors to consider when thinking about tank size include:

  • Available space: The amount of space available for a tank could limit your options, so be sure to measure.
  • Orientation: Most heating oil tanks come in horizontal or vertical configurations – check to make sure the model you want comes in the orientation you need.
  • Lifestyle choices: Do you leave your home empty for two or three months every winter? Do you have elderly people or a newborn in your space who prefer or need warmer temperatures? Do you prefer to “sleep cold”? All these factors will affect how much heating oil you need – and how big a tank you should get.
  • Your family plan: As your add people to your household, your energy needs increase. If you have a growing family, keep this in mind when you invest in a heating oil tank, since it will probably serve you for 20 years or more.

Of course there are other considerations to buying a heating oil tank – warrantees and construction materials, for example. But when it comes to a heating oil tank upgrade, sizing is the place to start the discussion.

Contact Carroll today to learn more about oil-fired heating options for your Maryland home!

For everything you need in home heating, trust the pros at Carroll Home Services – keeping Maryland homes warm for more than a century! Contact us to get started today!