It's not uncommon for houses in New England to use fuel oil for their heating needs. In fact, 84 percent of all heating oil is sold in the northeastern part of the United States. While new construction homes are increasingly using natural gas or electric, there is an abundance of older homes that use fuel oil. If you are a new homeowner and will be using fuel oil, you may be at a loss as to what this means for you in practical terms. Here's what you need to know to get familiar with your new heating system.

Get A Tour

Ideally, the previous homeowner will have taken the time to go over the fuel oil heating system and furnace with you before they moved out. If not, try to familiarize yourself with the basics. Take a close look at the oil tank. Check it over for any signs of rust. Look at the legs to make sure they are sturdy and intact. Locate the fuel gauge to determine how much oil is currently in the tank and note where the tank opening is.

In most homes, there is a pipe that runs from the tank in the basement to outside. This pipe is capped, and it is opened when the oil delivery service company technician arrives to fill the tank. In some cases, however, the fuel delivery nozzle it put through a basement window, and the tank is filled directly in this manner. In either case, you will want to make sure the areas are kept clear.

Next, look at the furnace itself. Check the pilot flame to ensure it is the bluish green it should be. Look for any signs of rust on the furnace. Check the furnace filter and note the ductwork so you can compare upstairs where the vents and registers are.

If the previous homeowner hasn't gone over the system with you, it is best to call an HVAC professional. Have them come do a general maintenance check as well as instruct you on the proper usage of the system. An annual inspection should be done before each heating season anyway.

Decide On A Fuel Provider

Depending on where you live, you may have only one option. If you have multiple options, get a recommendation from a neighbor or friend. Just as gas station prices don't vary, neither do fuel oil prices, but the terms and the service may be better at one over others.