Take a commonsense approach to home heating oil and propane supply for a safe winter

15 Jan 2020 | 08:21

To the Editor:

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reminds the more than 2.5 million Pennsylvania households that heat with oil or propane to take a commonsense approach to maintaining their fuel supply for a safe winter.

Many people don’t realize the route a heating oil or propane delivery takes to reach their residence. They may wait until there’s just a few days’ supply or less left before calling to schedule a delivery. A winter storm isn’t a good time to discover the tank is empty or the generator is out of service. To be safe this winter, we encourage people to check their tank regularly and call for delivery early.

A heating oil or propane delivery can travel many miles to reach a residence or business. From a refinery, an oil tanker ship or pipeline transports it to a primary storage terminal. A truck takes it from the primary terminal to customers or to a secondary storage terminal, where another truck takes it on to customers.

A range of factors can affect the route. Fire, power outages, storm-related closures, equipment freeze-up or leaks, or flooding-related impacts can occur before the liquid fuel is put into a truck. Hazardous road conditions can slow truck travel. Snow and ice accumulation at the residence or business can make it difficult to access the tank.

Although these disruptions aren’t typical, they can and sometimes do occur, and the risk can increase in extreme weather, when there’s also increased demand.

Whether they’re on a delivery schedule or call as needed, Pennsylvanians should check their tank regularly and order fuel supply early to avoid emergencies and more costly fill-ups.

The same holds for backup generators filled by a delivery company. Owners should make sure their generator is full and has been serviced and load-tested in the last year.

Keeping a heating oil tank in safe condition is also important to protect health and safety, property, and the environment. Routine tank inspection, maintenance, and repair are key to preventing an issue. Inspection checklists and the steps owners should take if they experience a leak or spill are available at dep.pa.gov/homeheatingoil.

Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Secretary

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection