Why use heating oil additives

When you fill your tank with heating oil, you want to make every penny of it count. One of the ways you can do this is through the use of additives. But, you’re probably already asking yourself if they’re actually worth it and why you should use them in the first place.

Some people swear by them, while others just can’t see any added value in the additional cost of buying heating oil additives. Well, the first thing to understand is that adding them won’t save you hundreds of pounds a year in reduced heating oil bills. But they should reduce your heating costs over the long term without a doubt. It’s just difficult to put an exact figure on how much.

Also, additives can reduce the chance of your oil fired central heating boiler breaking down and lower maintenance costs. Again, this is a difficult one to equate to a figure. After all, you’ll never know that an expensive breakdown has been avoided through the use of additives. It is safe to say however that additives will save you money by keeping your heating oil tank and boiler in peak condition for longer than if you didn’t use them.  

What are the problems?

The best place to start is looking at some of the common problems that can occur in a domestic heating oil tank and a boiler system. These are all issues that happen over time and can be easily avoided through the regular use of additives.

The first problem is a build-up of carbon and other contaminates in your tank that occur naturally in kerosene heating oil. This can then flow from your heating oil tank through to your boiler, clogging the feedpipes, filter and injector, which leads to a less efficient and slower heating system. This inefficiency in turn raises your heating costs.   

Another problem is water in your heating oil tank - which can happen in a number of ways. These include an ill-fitting filler cap, a loose inspection lid, vent damage, a split in your tank or a corroded seal. Water can even get in through the build-up of condensation caused by the temperature outside the tank being warmer than the inside. This causes moisture to be pulled in from outside, leading to condensation on the inside of the tank. Central heating oil tanks that are in direct sunlight through the day are more likely to experience this. No matter how the water gets in, the problem is that it’s difficult to notice as the water sinks to the bottom of your tank, which means an external inspection won’t spot it.

The next problem is cold weather and the potential of heating oil freezing. If temperatures drop low enough, the heating oil in your tank can become viscous. Also known as gelling, this turns the oil into a gooey gel. When this happens, it can’t flow smoothly through your oil heating system. Gelled oil builds up on the walls of oil lines narrowing the passageway and reducing the amount of fuel that reaches your boiler. Also, the gelled fuel can block the nozzle in your boiler. It can also clog your filter and it will need replacing as a result.

The final challenge is the building up of sludge. This occurs due to bacteria multiplying at the bottom of your heating oil tank. Once sludge is at the bottom of your tank, it sits there until your oil level is low enough to disturb it, at which point it is forced through your heating system. If this happens then it can clog filters and reduce your boiler’s efficiency.

What can additives achieve?

There are a number of different additives on offer. Some intended for oil central heating systems, others more specific, for example, designed specifically for homes using oil fired range cookers such as an AGA. Each one is designed to target a specific problem like the ones we’ve already covered.

The ones we talk about here are in no specific order as each one is arguably just as important as the other.

Let’s start with biocides. This kind of additive kills any microbes in your fuel that can create sludge in your heating oil tank over a period of time. This prevents the problem of sludge by eliminating the cause of the build-up in the first place.

Another form of additive is a demulsifier. This prevents water from entering your heating system by keeping it separate from the fuel in your tank.

The third type are lubricity additives. These have been created to lengthen the life expectancy of your oil fired central heating system by improving the lubrication of its moving parts. In addition, they help to clean injectors and burning nozzles. All of which can mean that your heating system remains in a good and efficient working condition for longer.

The benefits of additives

Additives basically keep your home heating oil heating system running efficiently by ensuring performance isn’t hampered by problems such as a build-up of sludge or soot. They can also ensure that the fuel in your tank remains at its best and does not cause long-term damage to the inner workings of your central heating boiler and cause boiler lockout. As a result, additives ensure that your boiler is always working at its most economical and that you avoid expensive repair costs. They can also extend the lifespan of your tank by reducing corrosion – which in turn can lead to issues such as water seepage.

All this means that in the long-term additives will save you money. And with reduced CO2 emissions, they're the environmentally friendly choice. Making them a worthwhile investment.

If you use our Premium Heating Oil, you’ll be pleased to know that it comes with an additive already in the mixture.

This includes anti-oxidants that keep your fuel fresher for longer by reducing the formation of carbon particles. Also added is a dispersant that gradually clears away any existing sludge from your tank. Then there are also detergents in there that keep components clean, such as the nozzle in your boiler. Next, corrosion inhibitors prevent rust and metal de-activators help reduce degradation. Finally, fuel stabilisers prevent deposit from forming when fuel warms up in your tank over summer. It’s thanks to this additive that we can confidently claim that using our Premium Heating Oil can improve fuel efficiency by up to 15%. And reduce the risk of breakdowns of course.

So, whether you’re using our Premium Heating Oil, which is included at no additional cost as one of the benefits of our Premium Package, or are getting it for no extra as part of our Flexi Saver Plan, you can have peace of mind that you're getting the added extra of additives without paying any extra!

Interested in finding out more about heating oil prices? Check out our blog covering whether it is a good time to buy heating oil.