What is an Oil Furnace?
Not everyone understands what an oil furnace is and how it operates, especially those living in temperate climates. On the reverse side, homeowners living in the northeast region where temperatures plummet are sure to have knowledge of these systems. No matter where you live, there are reliable choices that fit the needs of your home and region from heat pumps and HVAC systems to underfloor heating and oil furnaces.
About Oil Furnaces
You might be thinking that oil furnaces only run on oil but there are also hybrid models that use a heat pump creating a dual fuel system.
Whether you choose a traditional oil furnace with basic functionality, install a hybrid system, or one with additional features in your home, the result is radiated warmth during the winter, and cool and refreshed air moving throughout your home during the summer.
An oil furnace can also work all year-round to keep your home aerated by constantly circulating the air in your home.
Oil furnaces have what is known as an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The rating is a measure of the furnace’s efficiency level in converting its fuel source to energy. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system operates. Keep this in mind when shopping for a new oil furnace or replacing or updating an older model.
Tips When Buying an Oil Furnace
First and foremost, do your homework and learn the basics before setting foot inside a retail or business establishment that sells oil furnaces. This also holds true if you plan to purchase the system and have it installed through a private contractor. Businesses are in the business to make money and if you’re not prepared and don’t know what size system you need for your home, you may end up buying more than you need.
When you decide to purchase a brand from a dealer or contractor, they should perform a computerized calculation to determine unit size. If they don’t do this, the dealer or contractor will be making a random guess and that will result in an inaccurate sizing.
When purchasing an oil furnace, there are two things that should be presented to you. First, the dealer or contractor should provide you with a purchase agreement. It should be one that is all-inclusive, meaning it covers all taxes, parts, and labor for installation. Second, there should be warranty and registration forms to fill out. In some cases, there may be forms that need to be filled out by the manufacturer. These forms are required by most brands in order to validate the warranty.
It goes without saying that you should only be dealing with certified and licensed dealers or contractors to install an oil furnace. If working with a private contractor, ask for proof of a current license.
You should not be asked for full payment before the job is completed which also includes an inspection of the system by you.
Inspecting an Oil Furnace
As the homeowner, it’s to your advantage to inspect the installation and make sure the basic steps have been provided using a checklist.
- There should be easy access to the air filter
- Inspect that duct connections are sealed
- There should be no duct tape used to seal duct connections
- Ensure the unit is mounted on rubber pads
- Oil furnaces installed in a basement should be placed on blocks allowing several inches above flooring
- Ensure that a new thermostat was installed versus reusing an old model
- Look for a shutoff valve next to the furnace to shutoff the oil
- There should be nothing blocking access to the shutoff valve
- All vent pipes should be securely supported to eliminate sagging
- High efficiency furnaces have both an intake and exhaust pipe
- Run the system to make sure it is operating properly
After inspecting the furnace along with the installer/contractor, and if a test run doesn’t produce any problems with operation and you’re confident the system is working properly, then it’s okay to sign the check.
Benefits of an Oil Furnace
Energy efficient oil furnaces keep your dollars in your wallet with lower monthly utility bills. They’re also ultra-quiet which adds to the total comfort of your home.
Oil furnaces provide a reliable heat source and this is especially helpful for homes that may not have access to other fuel options such as gas or propane.
Furnaces are a wise investment that should provide a positive ROI “Return on Investment” with a long lifetime for as many as 20 years when well maintained.
For a durable, efficient, and long-lasting energy source, an oil furnace is a good candidate. A well maintained system runs efficiently, is cost effective, operates quietly, and can last for years making it a good investment when year-round comfort is the goal.