Why There’s A Whistling Noise During Home Heating Oil Delivery

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If you’ve only just started using home heating oil, you’re likely unfamiliar with everything that happens when a heating oil tank is filled. The good news is that your heating oil delivery company will guide you through this process step-by-step. It’s quick and simple, especially when these heating systems are in good condition. If your very first oil delivery was just completed, then there may have been a few surprising events or developments that you still don’t fully understand. For instance, there is often a distinctive whistling sound that comes from the tank area. This shouldn’t cause any worry as it is only the oil tank vent alarm. Whistling is actually a sound that your system is supposed to make during a heating oil delivery.

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What Causes The Whistling Noise When Heating Oil Is Delivered?

Keep reading to learn more about this whistling sound and why it’s an important part of both heating oil systems and the oil tank refilling process.

The Source Of The Whistling Sound

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While natural gas is delivered via installed pipelines, heating oil is brought to each home individually on a large truck. Heating oil is stored in tanks that are connected to home heating systems. The amount of oil in a tank gradually decreases over time as more oil is used to heat a home. Once the oil is gone, it is replaced by air within the tank. When the storage unit is ready to be refilled, fresh oil will push the air inside of the tank bank out. Home heating oil tanks all have an oil tank vent alarm that creates a whistling noise when the air exits. It is a vital, audible signal that can be clearly heard at the actual delivery truck.

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When Does The Whistling Sound Stop?

The whistling of the oil tank vent alarm will sound as the air continues passing through the vent alarm while exiting out of the vent pipe. This noise only stops when the tank is full given that there is no more air inside of the tank to escape. Once this happens, the heating oil delivery driver will stop the flow of oil from the truck. This is a manual task and thus, having a signal that indicates the right time for manual shut-off is absolutely essential. After all, home heating oil tanks come in varying sizes. The volume of each tank can be difficult to know especially when these tanks are buried underground. The good news is that knowing tank volumes isn’t a must given that the whistling sound will track the state of each oil refill.

Why It’s Important For Tanks To Have Vent Alarms

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The process of refilling a heating oil tank is heavily reliant upon the vent alarm, and thus, this component must work perfectly. Heating oil delivery companies make it a policy to dismiss orders if a functioning whistle does not exist. They will try to refill a tank by first opening the tank nozzle and allowing a small amount of oil to flow through. The vent alarm should sound immediately. If it does not, the delivery company will stop service right away by shutting everything down.

When there is no whistling sound, this means that there are problems with the tank or around this component. With the absence of a vent alarm, oil delivery companies will not be able to know when the tank is full. This makes any fuel oil delivery effort a risky and fruitless one. This could result in oil being spilled on the ground. As such, this is not a risk many home heating oil companies are willing to take.

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Why The Vent Alarm Might Not Go Off During A Heating Oil Delivery

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  • Faulty Oil Tank Connections: One reason why a whistling sound might not be produced during refilling is that there’s no actual tank connected to the pipes. Although this is a rare issue, it can and does occasionally occur. For instance, if you have just purchased a home, you may be attempting to refill a tank that has already been excavated before you bought the home, and without you knowing about it. It might be that the tank connections are severed.
  • Seal Damage: Damaged seals or an opening that allows for air to escape rather than passing through the vent alarm is another likely problem. It might be that the tank is not sealed. Air should only flow in a single direction and this is through the vent pipe so that the whistle sound is triggered. Any holes or gaps will need to be filled before refilling services can proceed.
  • Vent Pipe Problems: There are also times when the vent pipe is the source of problems. The vent pipe might be blocked with insects that have built nests in its interior. All blockages will need to be extracted to ensure smooth, unobstructed airflow. If these problems are left unchecked, pressure can build to exceedingly high levels and eventually cause tank damage.
  • The Whistle Is Broken: There is also a chance that the whistle is busted. This component also has small holes that can be home to insects or trapped debris. The whistle will need to be unplugged so that air can pass and resume its whistling sound during refilling.

Our drivers at Townsend Energy will always check your tank for a whistling sound at the start of refilling. We can also send out a technician to diagnose and repair the problem, or to make any necessary parts replacements. Call us now if you have questions or concerns about home heating oil delivery.


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For Superior Heating Oil Deliveries, Call Townsend Energy

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Townsend Energy is proud to be a trusted, affordable heating oil supplier in the area. We offer different delivery plans and financing options. This way, you can customize your oil deliveries by choosing which option works best for you. By working with us, you can expect affordable oil prices and fast and reliable fuel deliveries.

Also, when you need maintenance service or repair for your heating system, our professionally certified technicians can help you. Call Townsend Energy today to schedule your appointment.

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