Oil Heating Systems
By Alejandro Mejia B.A.Sc., P.Eng.,
An estimated 1.2 million households in Canada are heated by fuel oil . These households are predominantly located in rural areas.
Though a functional and efficient heat source, these systems pose various risks to the homeowner. Their failures can result in the escape of hundreds of liters of oil into the surrounding environment - below foundations, and into wells, sumps, weeping tile, and groundwater. The associated remediation work is costly and can easily exceed the property value.
Numerous types of oil heating system component failures have been studied and documented. For example, internal corrosion of single-walled heating oil tanks has long been recognized as an insidious mode of failure that can cause an oil tank to leak with little or no warning.
However, one of the lesser-known and preventable sources of oil escapes are corrosion failures of inline oil filters. These filters are widely used in heating oil systems, and their basic design has not been altered in the past 50 years. While there has been a widespread focus in recent years on the updating of tank designs, inline oil filters represent an overlooked, but significant item for attention from homeowners, maintenance companies, insurers, and lawyers.