How an Oil Heating System Heats Your Home

Oil Heating System In Homes
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Posted On: February 6, 2022
  • Updated On: July 7, 2023

Just around 7 million households in the United States use oil to heat their homes. Despite the availability of alternate heating fuels such as natural gas, propane gas, and electricity, some individuals prefer oil heat.

If you already heat your home with an oil heater it’s critical to understand how oil heaters work and how it differs from other alternatives.

Oil fired unit heaters use oil when it warms a house. Heating your home with heating oil is a tried-and-true method that is only becoming more popular. Many people believe it is an out-of-date system, but it isn’t. Here in this article, we will tell you how oil heating systems work.

How Does Oil Heat Work?

In home Pipes For Oil Heat Work

To properly heat a home, an oil-fueled heating system relies on numerous different components. The following items are frequently seen in an oil-fueled heating system:

Oil Tank: The oil tank is where the oil is stored until it is needed by the heating system. Oil tanks come in many different sizes and designs, including horizontal and vertical tanks. They could be above ground or beneath.

Filter: As the oil runs from the tank to the heating system, the filter eliminates sediment and trash.

Fuel pump: The fuel pump is in charge of moving the oil from the tank to the heating system.

Combustion chamber: Depending on the type of system in place, the combustion chamber is where the oil is ignited so that it can warm either water or air.

Thermostat: A thermostat is a device that measures the temperature in a specific region of a home. The thermostat activates the heating system when the temperature goes below the set point.

The oil is injected from the tank into the combustion chamber when an oil heating system receives the signal that it needs to warm up a home. As it enters the chamber, the oil is usually under a lot of pressure. The oil is lit on fire once it enters the combustion chamber. Although early oil heat systems used a constantly burning pilot light, modern types had electronic ignition. When the heating system is in the middle of a cycle, a flame is lit.

The burning oil does not leave the combustion chamber on its own. The heat from the burning oil is instead transferred to a circulator or heat exchanger. Depending on the type of system, the heat comes into contact with either air or water.

Air-based systems draw cold air from the home into the heat exchanger. Water-based systems circulate water through a network of pipes throughout the home. The heated air is sent around the house via ducts, while the hot water is distributed throughout the house via pipes to baseboards or radiators. To restart the operation, the cooled air or water returns to the heat exchanger or circulator.

Heating Systems That Use Oil

Your home’s heating system is most likely a furnace or a boiler if it uses oil heat. The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of both types of systems is calculated by comparing the amount of heat produced by the heating system to the amount of fuel or energy it consumes.

AFUE scores above 90% are found in the most energy-efficient systems. The least energy-efficient systems have efficiency ratings of less than 50%. Although the ideas of a furnace and a boiler are similar, there are a few major distinctions.


By circulating warm air through ducts, a furnace heats your home. Cold air from the house is drawn into the heat exchanger by a fan at the furnace’s base. The air is heated in the heat exchanger by burning oil. The air is then returned to the house via the ducts.

Warm air is circulated throughout your home via vents and registers. As the air cools, it returns to the furnace to begin the process all over again.


Boilers circulate hot water through pipes to provide heat to your home. Cool water is circulated through the boiler’s circulator, where it is heated by the burning oil. It then travels back up into your home through the system pipes.

The heat from the water is distributed throughout your home via baseboard heaters, radiators, and floorboard heating coils.


If you’re considering a new heating system, you now have a better understanding of how an oil heating system works. Modern systems are more environmentally friendly and will save you money in the long term.

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Author: Mohsin Khan

Mohsin has worked as one of the experienced editors with ConstructionHow since 2020 with a total span of 5 years of experience in business PR, boasting a remarkable professional trajectory, he has collaborated with entrepreneurs and startups, and certain publications over the last few years. His unwavering interest lies in the construction industry and related materials. He believes in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings, and homes that fall under the right budget. With a wide range of experience in construction, he also tapped into DIY and home improvement projects based on his extensive set of knowledge in the industry.