This past winter has been unusually rough for much of the country, judging from the mounds of snow and ice that have battered northern and western parts of the nation. Even through March, when the weather should be thawing out in preparation for spring flowers, much of the country is still hunkered down under the shroud of chilly weather.
This winter weather should, at last, be coming to an end. Which means now is the time to take the steps to prepare your heating system for the warmer months where it may face long dormant periods. A few simple preparations will save you time, money and hassle later in the year when the weather turns cold and you once again return to use your oil furnace system.
1. Have your system cleaned of soot and scale.
You may need to have this done professionally, depending on how dirty the system is. It is typically recommended to have a professional cleaning at least on a semi-regular basis.Build-up of soot and scale deposits are the primary causes of system inefficiency, which means money out of your pocket. Soot and scale will interfere with the efficiency of the system later on in the year. Soot also contains sulfur, and if this is allowed to sit over the spring and summer months, the sulfur will react with water in the system to form acid, which will eat away at metal surfaces and cause costly corrosion damage. So have your system cleaned, whether professionally and by vacuuming out as much of the soot and scale as you can. This includes coils and filters, as well as reflecting plates.
2. Replace the filters.
Proper airflow is essentially to efficient operation of the system.
3. Fill your heating oil tank as the weather gets hotter.
Fuel oil prices tend to be lower during this low-demand time and it will save you money.
4. Use a multi-purpose heating oil additive like ATX-942, added to your fuel oil.
ATX-942 will clean the sludge and water that builds up in your tank and fuel delivery system and readies it to be removed for the system when you fire it back up during later use. Without it, heating systems tend to be more difficult to start and produced more black smoke emissions
Adding a quart of ATX-942 for every 480 gallons of fuel oil in the tank can make a big difference later on. Continued treatment with ATX-942 will also reduce the soot and scale buildup during the heavier use season, making the system more efficient and future cleaning easier and simpler.
If you use your oil system for hot water all year round, it is recommended to repeat the cleaning process again later in the summer. This will further prepare it for the heavier use it will experience in the cold weather months.
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This post was published on April 13, 2011 and was updated on January 18, 2016.