Energy Communications Council

Heating Oil News

Back to News

How to Prepare Your Heating Oil System for a Hurricane

September 2, 2010

Although Hurricane Earl was downgraded to a category 3 storm on Thursday afternoon, it’s still a whopper of the storm whose effects could soon be felt in much of the Northeast. According to a report by the Washington Post released at 2:30 pm Eastern time on Thursday,

Forecasters were trying to determine whether the storm would stay offshore as it headed up the Northeast coast or bring hurricane-force winds to Long Island and the New England coastal area.

If the storm does move closer to the East Coast as it moves north, coastal areas of the Northeast will get most of Earl’s intense wind and rain, while inland areas may see few effects. At the moment, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Long Island are most likely to see serious tropical storm conditions over the next two days or so.

Those areas are home to many heating oil users, and to help them prepare for Earl’s arrival, the Energy Communications Council (which is funded by the National Oilheat Research Alliance) issued a press release offering tips on how to prepare and check up on oil-fired heating systems before and after flooding:

Preparation before a flood
• If you must evacuate, turn off the heating oil supply valve at the tank before flood waters rise.
• If you must evacuate, turn off furnace or boiler emergency switch.
• Particularly in FEMA designated ‘flood prone areas,’ the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that basement and above-ground heating oil tanks should be ‘anchored to resist movement’ resulting from a flood condition.

After a flood
• If oilheat equipment has been flooded, be sure to shut off the tank service valve if you did not do so before evacuating.
• Look for any visible structural damage. If the tank has shifted, lines are bent or damaged, or you notice anything else unusual, contact your heating oil retailer immediately.
• Damage to pumps, filters, and electronic controls is a significant problem caused by flooding. Heating oil appliances and equipment that have been underwater should be inspected by your professional retailer before being placed back into service.

Hopefully, no one will have to worry about flooding from Earl’s heavy rain. But if heating oil users anywhere in the Northeast are forced to evacuate their homes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Click here for the full story from

National Oilheat Research Alliance ECC is funded in part through the National Oilheat Research Alliance.