Oil furnace

What are the critical things on an oil feed furnace one should be looking for? We have an inspection coming up that is heated by oil.


Hi Gary,

Check for:

  • Leaks on the oil supply lines
  • Oil filter has been changed regularly
  • Pump and fan don’t vibrate/shake (bad bearings/motor)
  • Check that flame color is a bright yellow/orange
  • check for breaking down refractory lining
  • Check as best as you can for heatexchanger damage
  • Look for soot around the flue from poor combustion
  • Check for barometric damper and that it is free moving
  • Look for anual service history
  • Check Tank for leaks of signs of rusting along the bottom
  • If tank underground defer…defer…defer
    No doubt I’ve missed a few but thats the gist of it.



Gerry got most of them.

Make sure the oil line is fully protected. In Massachusetts, they spread a mortar mound over the exposed feed line to prevent crushing.

If there’s no access to the fire liner (few of them are sealed permanently), report it as “fire liner not inspected”.

Most importantly is to recommend a service and cleaning of furnace by an HVAC technician, before the close of escrow or immmediately after moving in. That way the furnace can be evaluated by a professional.

Always report the condition of the tank. Half the tanks I inspect are rusted and contain plugs of some sort on the belly.

If in fact the tank is underground, how would you defer?

Recommend further review and evaluation of the tank (including the surrounding soil) prior to closing.


What would you say in your report, why are you recommending further evaluation of tank and soil? Would could be going on that our SOP does not include? I can think that a camera could be used to inspected further, correct. What else?


The way things are going around here concerning going beyond (where no HI has gone before!), I guess you should turn it on at the thermostat, if it blows heat at you, it works!

If it hasn’t been serviced this year, send it to the HVAC guys.

Gary, If you get into something give me a call or email me.
I used to teach the New England Oil guys A/C and they taught me more than I want to know about oil.

If we post anything here we will be in the dog house for trying to help our client out.

If you think there is a leak underground, it’s likely a Phase 1 and is way over our heads.


In Massachusetts, upon sale or transfer of a home, all underground oil tanks must be removed…Period. I’ve always reported this as such and it has never backfired on me.

In N.H. (Live Free or Die) there is no such regulation, so I simply recommend a plumber perform a pressure test on any underground oil tanks. They do not require removal.

Check for patches on the bottom (fiberglass patch in pic below) and on top of the tank as well - sometimes they are patched and then flipped.

fiberglass tank patch.JPG

How do you report such findings, patches and alike?

I know this question is referred to Bill but I’m throwing in my 2 cents.

I always report my findings (patched or plugged belly) and recommend continuous monitoring for future leaks until replacement.

Fiberglass patching (and other forms of patches like welds or magna-patches) are older forms of repair. If I find repair like that, it probably was done at least 10 years ago. So, an old tank that needed repair at least 10 years ago = “evaluation for replacement by a qualified Oil Tank specialist or Oil provider”.

Thanks Bill and David. I’ll let you know how it goes.