If you live in the Northeast US, your home likely heats with oil; routinely replacing the oil filter has to be a component of your autumn home maintenance checklist. Whether this is your first oil-heated home or you need a refresher, our guide will give you everything you need to know about changing a filter.

The Who, What, Where, When, And Why Of Oil Filters. 

Well, This Is Just The What. 

The heating oil filter is a component in your oil-fired boiler, furnace, or water heater. The filter is contained inside a canister and ordinarily rests between the incoming oil line and the oil burner to filter oil prior to entering the heating system. 

The heating oil filter prevents dirt and moisture from seeping into the fuel system. 

The Benefits Of Replacing The Filter

  • Renewing furnace dependability
  • Improving furnace performance
  • Lengthening life span of the furnace 
  • Keeping more money in your pocket over time

How Often Does The Filter Need Replacement?

Replacing the filter semi-annually or annually is ideal, e.g., the beginning of winter and midway through winter.

What Are The Signs Your Filter Needs To Be Swapped Out?

Here are the common signs your heating oil filter needs replacement:

  • Reduced heating efficiency
  • Slow heating starts
  • Dark-colored soot or smoke emitting from the furnace

But Wait! How Does One Change The Filter? Fret No More, Here Are Tips. 

Follow these steps carefully when replacing your heating oil filter:

  1. Shut down the furnace’s power. 

-Before you do anything, shut off the boiler, furnace, or water heater. This act reduces the chances of shock or other mishaps. 

  1. Put Down a Pan or Bucket.

-Use a pan (or, if space permits, a bucket) to catch any spills or drippings. 

  1. Turn the Oil Shut-Off Valve.

Find the heating oil container and next obtain the oil shut-off nozzle. Shut off the pipe to prevent oil from spilling while opening the filter cartridge. In the event the oil-shut-off valve is also the fire safety shut-off valve, then the valve will include a spring-loaded fusible part that seals the valve should a fire occur. Those two valves often function in the opposite bias from traditional valves, i.e., “right-tighty, lefty-loosey” is opposite; clockwise rotation opens, and counter-clockwise closes.  

  1. Remove the canister base. 

-Extract the filter canister’s base. If your canister has a central bolt, then loosen it until you can remove the bottom. However, unscrew the canister base from the top if your canister does not have the central bolt. 

  1. Replace or wipe the used cartridge.

-Remove the spent oil filter cartridge and gaskets and set them down. Since the cartridge holds oil and dirt, enclose it quickly — it’s best to have a plastic bag or garbage bag on hand for immediate disposal. However, if your heating system has a permanent filter, clean the filter according to the manufacturer’s directions. 

  1. Clean the filter canister.

-Use a cloth to clean any debris, dust, and oil from the canister before putting in the clean, new filter. Be sure to check for water seepage, which is noted by any red sludge; clean that out.  

  1. Clean the Pump Strainer

-Some systems have pump strainers, and some don’t. If your system possesses a strainer, take time to clean it now. Unbolt the pump strainer cover from the housing and clean the filter using a brush (a toothbrush will suffice) — if you have any caked-on debris/particles, soak it in kerosene for a few minutes to loosen them up. Take this time to look for any damage and replace if necessary.

  1. Replace the cartridge.

-Replace the cartridge inside your canister; be sure to place it the same way the old cartridge was placed, along with any gaskets. If your furnace has a permanent cartridge, skip this step.

  1. Put the Canister Back Together

-Reassemble the canister by sliding its bottom beneath the lid and into the accurate location, holding the cartridge poised and collected during the process.

  1. Replace the Mounting Bolt

-After putting the canister together again, return the bolt that sits at the top of the canister. Screw-in the base as tightly as it will go if your canister has no bolt. 

  1. Resume your oil supply valve connection. 

-Resume the oil flow with the exact valve you used to correctly turn it off to release air from the filter and canister. 

  1. Flip the power back on. 

– Turn the power back on for the furnace. 

  1. Release Air

-While completing the steps above, air gets into the body of the filter canister, so it’s essential to release said air. Loosen the air bleeder screw to remove the air. 

  1. Operate the oil burner.

-Leave your oil burner to work for a bit to ensure it operates as it should, i.e., correct starts and stops, and if enough oil is getting through. 

  1. Inspect for Leaks

– While the furnace runs for a while, examine it to guarantee the filter replacement did not originate any leaks. Specifically, check the air bleeder screw, the center bolt, canister lid, and connections encompassing the filter canister—oil leaks = air leaks, which reduce performance and increase the risk of fires or explosions.

  1. Dispose of the Spent Filter and Oil

– After all the steps are complete, the finishing one is to get rid of the filter and any used oil. 

If you have any questions, be sure to give us a call! Our team of experts have been in the business for over 70 years. We offer services such as oil tank maintenance and tune-up and are eager to help you, too! Give us a call today or fill out our online contact form for more information!