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250 Gallons of Heating Oil in 3 Weeks, Not Even Winter Yet!

MartinWillis
MartinWillis Member Posts: 4
edited November 2016 in Oil Heating
I am revamping a foreclosed home with about 3,000 sq feet. I had the Viessmann Vitola 200 gone through, hydronic air handlers gone through, and put the system online three weeks ago. There is a 500 gallon double-wall in ground fuel tank with no gauge that I put 250 gallons in. I live in southern Maine and it has not been too cold yet. I just ran out of fuel, and am shocked. The nozzle is 2.5 gph, but the furnace didn't seem like it was running excessively. Could this be typical, or does it sound like a tank issue? Any feedback would be appreciated.. Thank you

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,762
    Does sound a bit high for 3,000 square feet -- although it wouldn't be that out of line for the place I care for (see signature below!). But... it might be OK. What temperature are you holding the space at? Makes a big difference, particularly in the shoulder seasons. What is the insulation like? Windows?

    There'd be no harm to checking the containment tank, though.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026
    I agree. Have the tank checked, it may be leaking.

    If natural gas is available, this may be a good time to switch. You should be able to put a gas burner in that Vitola.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • MartinWillis
    MartinWillis Member Posts: 4
    Hi Jamie,

    Wow, that looks like quite the property you care for. Thank you for the reply, I looked into getting the tank checked, and it is a huge headache in my state, and because it was a foreclosed property, it is going to take some doing to get to the testing at this point.

    The home was built in 1987, and very well insulated, rooms are heated to around 68 degrees F, and windows are all good.

    I failed to mention that the ceilings are 8' and 10' in a few rooms with a grand stairway. It is a heavy duty heating system overall, and I have closed off around 6k square feet of living space, as this was a museum conference center and residence. (Jones Glass & Ceramic Museum). This means that no water circulates to air handlers that are not in use.

    Thanks again,
    Martin
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,255
    The gauge on my old oil tank died about 8 years before i switched to gas. Rather than replace the tank gauge I installed an elapsed time indicator on the oil gun. I could track my usage to the gallon with that so I always knew where I was with the fuel supply.

    If you could get one of those installed and if you knew haw many gallons per hour the burner uses it would be easy to know how much fuel you are burning.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 378
    With a 2.5 gph nozzle, it would not have to run very much to consume 250 gallons in 3 weeks...less than 5 hours per day.

    I like Bob's idea about the hour meter on the burner. I have done the same thing, and it is useful for tracking fuel consumption, and for maintenance.

    One more thing...make sure no one is stealing fuel from the tank.
    Charlie from wmass
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Ditto on a meter, and stick the tank. Chances are the suction line isn't down close to the bottom, or has "floated", or I have even found one that had a pinhole in the copper suction half way up
  • MartinWillis
    MartinWillis Member Posts: 4
    Thank you everyone!
  • MartinWillis
    MartinWillis Member Posts: 4
    I am getting a elapsed time indicator installed, just one more question if anyone knows. Does it make sense to see if a more efficient nozzle can be installed? One using less GPH?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,255
    You need to use a combustion meter if you try to reduce the nozzle size to be sure the numbers are right. I don't know if you can go more than 10% down without running into problems, somebody more knowledgeable will chime in I'm sure.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    just curious, since you closed off a lot of area...are you sure heat isnt sneaking someplace it's not supposed to? Maybe a miswired zone feeding to cold space or a zone valve that didnt close? Even if the air handlers didnt come on, if water is traveling to them you'll have a lot of increased usage...
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,446

    I am getting a elapsed time indicator installed, just one more question if anyone knows. Does it make sense to see if a more efficient nozzle can be installed? One using less GPH?

    Usually the manufacturer says 75-80% of rating. However, you probably have an over sized boiler, and with the other parts of the house closed off, it's really over sized. So it's short cycling and wasting alot of energy, not to mention probably condensing, and extra wear and tear on the equipment.

    I would still look into the other suggestions-theft, clocking run time, leaking tank/line. You should be able to do some checking with a measuring stick and the proper tank chart to make sure you received the oil you paid for, and to check progress-IOW, if your burner ran for 20 hours (50 gallons if pump pressure is at 100psi), but you measuring stick/chart shows 100 gallons missing from the tank, etc.
    Also, just because the other parts of the house are closed off, heat is migrating to those areas from the heated areas, also contributing to the short cycling-heated zones cooling off quicker and causing a call for heat.
    steve
  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 935
    Doesn't 2.5 GPH sound extremely large for late model 3000 sq ft home, even in Maine?
    njtommySolid_Fuel_ManNew England SteamWorks
  • njtommy
    njtommy Member Posts: 1,105
    I will second what John Mills said. I would say 1-1.5gph depending on tightness of the house would do it.
    New England SteamWorks
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    It's actually a 9000 Sq. Ft. house. He just has 6000 Sq. Ft. shut down.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,762
    May I make one comment on the 6,000 square feet which are closed off? Other than the one which has been mentioned -- that considerable heat may be going in there anyway, depending on how it is closed.

    That is: watch your humidity in there. Warmed air leaking in from the occupied areas will have a good bit of moisture in it -- even if it seems dry. That moisture may want to condense onto and into everything in the closed off part of the building, if the temperatures in there are below the dewpoint. You don't say what you have in there, but that moisture can cause severe damage to plaster, never mind furniture or books or artwork.

    You can buy a lot of heat for what it would cost to replaster a damaged ceiling... (a bit of personal perspective -- I recently had a damaged ceiling in a 15 by 20 foot room in the place I care for replastered -- and it cost almost exactly the same as a year's worth of oil for the whole main building).

    Is there a way you can run that part of the building at a lower temperature, keeping it above the dewpoint?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • intakevalve
    intakevalve Member Posts: 4
    No gage? Are you sure you are out of oil and not broken down? Do you "stick the tank"
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,392

    May I make one comment on the 6,000 square feet which are closed off? Other than the one which has been mentioned -- that considerable heat may be going in there anyway, depending on how it is closed.

    That is: watch your humidity in there. Warmed air leaking in from the occupied areas will have a good bit of moisture in it -- even if it seems dry. That moisture may want to condense onto and into everything in the closed off part of the building, if the temperatures in there are below the dewpoint. You don't say what you have in there, but that moisture can cause severe damage to plaster, never mind furniture or books or artwork.

    You can buy a lot of heat for what it would cost to replaster a damaged ceiling... (a bit of personal perspective -- I recently had a damaged ceiling in a 15 by 20 foot room in the place I care for replastered -- and it cost almost exactly the same as a year's worth of oil for the whole main building).

    Is there a way you can run that part of the building at a lower temperature, keeping it above the dewpoint?

    Good point Jamie. It is a challenge to keep different temperatures under one roof unless the rooms are well insulated from one another. a couple 3- 5 degrees maybe. Keeping one room at 70 and the adjoining rooms at 50 or 55 it not so easy. Hot goes to cold, always.


    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream