Mistaken Oil Deliveries – Are You at Risk?

Last year, the Farmers’ Almanac predicted that the winter would “exhibit a split personality, with harsh conditions for the eastern half of the U.S., and milder weather to the west.”  That prediction came true as the Northeast and Great Lakes regions were hammered with many heavy snowstorms.

I usually look forward to each new season.  In Autumn I enjoy putting my garden to bed.  I think of it as an opportunity to clean the slate and prepare for spring’s fresh start.  While I do the work, I daydream about the up-coming winter: the savory scents of home made soups, warm, crackling fires, and the distant sounds of my adult children making snow angels in the yard.   I have to admit I’m not feeling it this year.  The summer was not long and hot enough to erase my 2010 winter memories.

I made a promise to myself to be better prepared for the 2012 winter season.  For me that means plenty of Ice melt and snowblower parts on hand.   What’s on your winter to do list?  Perhaps you’re considering converting from oil heat to gas heat.  If you’re like me, you’ve done a lot of research and you know the conversion can cost between $2000 and $7000.

Last year, NewsCenter 5  compared the costs of heating a 2,500-square foot home with oil using current prices for the 6-month heating season.  If a homeowner used 800 gallons, it would cost about $2,800 for oil heat.  Using an average of 166 units of gas a month, at a cost of $255 per month natural gas would cost a total of $1,350 for the season.  Oil dealers pointed out other factors to consider; not every neighborhood has gas available and they claimed their fuel is a better choice over all because it burns hotter and is more efficient.

If you do make the switch from oil heat to gas heat make sure to remove the oil fill pipe on the outside of our home to avoid mistaken deliveries.  Don’t laugh, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it actually happens and the results are heart breaking.  Just ask Charlie Garnar of Bethpage, Long Island.  The mistaken delivery at his house dumped gallons of home heating oil onto his basement floor.  “From the cleanup, repair on the drywall, getting the smell out of the house – it’s gonna be thousands of dollars, “ said Garnar.

Believe it or not several errors need to occur for a mistaken delivery to take place; a delivery driver unfamiliar with the area, multiple poorly marked residences (snow could play in this part of the scenario), and a home with an oil fill pipe that’s not connected to an oil tank.  Mistakes will happen, but an oil fill pipe that is not connected to anything?  I wondered who was responsible for removing this during the conversion.

I contacted the National Grid who directed me to the conversion section of their website.  Although they are not responsible for the removal of the oil fill pipe they had an extensive list of oil tank removal experts who were able to answer my question.  Petroleum Management Services, Inc. in Reading, MA explained “The removal of the oil fill pipe is part of the tank removal process.”  They were all too familiar with the mistaken delivery scenario and pointed out that it happened in 1987 to Boston Celtics assistant coach Chris Ford at his Lynnfield, Massachusetts home.  According to reports, Ford’s oil fill pipe had been disconnected for approximately 12 years.

For the winter of 2012 the Farmers’ Almanac forecasts “clime and punishment, a season of unusually cold and stormy weather.”  For some parts of the country, that means frigid temperatures; while for others, it will mean lots of rain and snow.   I’m good with the “above-normal” temperatures expected in the eastern U.S.  Just to be on the safe side, I’m heading out to the hardware store to get prepared.  For those of you making the switch from oil heat to gas heat this season – remove that oil fill pipe.