Having an oil-fired furnace in your Tolleson, AZ home greatly reduces the risk of heating emergencies. Although it isn’t ideal, you can always use diesel to power your heating equipment if your fuel tank runs empty. Apart from higher taxes, a distinguishing red dye, and a slightly higher combustion temperature, diesel is almost chemically identical to heating oil. However, if you’re in the habit of letting your heating oil tank run low, there may come a time when you have to bleed your furnace to ensure proper functioning. Read on to find out why.
The Short and Long-Term Effects of Running Out of Fuel
Using diesel in a pinch is a great way to avoid a home heating emergency, but it’s hardly great for your heating system. Because diesel burns slightly hotter than heating oil, it takes an increasing toll on your furnace. The longer that you have to use it, the more that it will shorten your furnace’s lifespan.
Another major drawback of running out of fuel and using diesel is that your fuel lines suffer too. When you look at your tank’s float gauge, you’re not necessarily getting an accurate reading. This gauge accounts for both the fresh oil that lies at the top of your tank and the dirty, sediment-filled oil that’s just at the tank bottom. When you let your heating oil supplies run low, your furnace draws from this thicker, more sludge-like fuel.
To prevent large amounts of sediment from entering heating systems, fuel tank lines never extend to the very bottoms of tanks. Thus, continuing to run your heater on a low tank will eventually mean having your fuel line suck in air. Once this air enters the heating system, you’ll have to have your fuel lines bled so there’s the right balance of oxygen in your furnace’s combustion chamber. If you don’t bleed your fuel lines, your furnace won’t function properly.
The Drawbacks of Having Air in Your Fuel Lines
Combustion requires a limited amount of oxygen. But when there’s too much oxygen due to air in fuel lines, problems occur. Among these are:
- Increased fuel use
- More energy waste
- Rapid build-ups of soot
- Accelerated wear at the oil pump
Air within a furnace’s fuel lines is a leading cause of furnace breakdowns and failure.
How HVAC Technicians Bleed Furnaces
Fuel-fired furnaces should always be bled by licensed HVAC professionals. Although your heating oil delivery service might offer line bleeding, it’s best to pass this job on to a company that understands the needs and nuances of the heater you own. Not only will this ensure that all work is performed according to your furnace manufacturer’s specifications, but it will also give your provider the chance to take care of any other urgent maintenance and repairs that have arisen from improper fuel storage or tank care.
HVAC technicians start by turning heaters and fuel pumps off. They then connect tubes to fuel valves and open bleeder valves completely. When the furnace reset button is pressed, heating oil and air flow out. When furnace fuel is completely free of air bubbles, tanks and furnaces are cleaned before refilling.
What About Gas-Fired Furnaces?
Although far less common than air in heating oil systems, gas furnaces sometimes have air in their fuel lines that makes bleeding essential. Air can be introduced into gas-fired heating systems during fuel line maintenance or as the result of problems within a utility company’s gas supply lines.
Signs Your Furnace Needs Bled
It doesn’t always take an empty heating oil tank or a major heating emergency to get air in your furnace’s fuel lines. Even if you’ve never let your tank run so low that its fuel line starts drawing in air, you might notice signs of excess oxygen within the system, including:
- Odd sounds and vibrations
- Cold spots throughout your home
- Dramatic increases in your home energy bill
- Discoloration at the pilot light
In addition to low fuel, air bubbles sometimes the result of tank refilling operations or fuel line leaks.
Since 2002, we’ve been proudly serving Tolleson, AZ. We offer an outstanding range of heating, cooling, and home automation services. We also provide ductwork installation, maintenance, and repairs. If your furnace needs to be bled, get in touch with El Indio AC today to schedule an appointment.