What Is the Shelf Life of Heating Oil?

Written by shannon cate
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What Is the Shelf Life of Heating Oil?
Rusted storage drums can make heating oil dangerous and inefficient. (Oil Drums image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com)

Homes that use heating oil need usually maintain about a month-long supply at any given time. Storing more oil can be tricky. The shelf life of home heating oil depends on how it is stored and what preservatives it contains.

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Variable Shelf Life

Clean, properly stored home heating oil is good from 18 months to two years, depending on a few factors. Many oil companies add preservatives that can increase the oil's shelf life. Oil with these preservatives can be useful for up to two years.

Contamination and Spoilage

In many cases, heating oil that might have been useful becomes contaminated. Rust from steel storage drums, water seepage into the oil, or dust and dirt in the oil can make it dangerous to burn. Contamination is a combustion risk; even a small leak of heating oil requires a costly professional cleanup.


Some experts recommend using polythene, double-wall storage tanks instead of steel barrels to store fuel. If the oil supplier does not already use preservatives, additives are available that can extend the life of stored oil.

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