Measuring the current amount of heating oil in tank is one of most common issues  with oil heating systems. Measuring is needed not just because you want to know when is needed to buy more oil. You should know the amount of oil remaining to prevent your heating system breakage due to running out of oil.


Check out this video on how to measure how much heating oil is in your tank


Many oil tanks feature a gauge which helps you determine the exact amount of fuel,  but if your tank doesn’t feature a gauge there are easier ways to find out how much oil is left.

If your oil tank is underground you shall need to find a stick which is at least 8 feet long, for example an old thinner curtain rod, but if you don’t have such a long stick it’s better to purchase a measuring stick made exactly for that purpose. Dip it in the tank and lower it slowly keeping it straight vertical until you reach the tank’s bottom. For the most precious measurement you may hold a bubble level with the stick. Once you find the bottom put the stick out and measure the length of the wet part of it.

Special dipsticks made only for measuring heating oil feature a scale and often come with a chart which covers most standard tank sizes, helping you find out the most accurate amount of oil.

You need to know dimensions of your underground tank to find out the exact volume of oil. If you can’t find that out in any way you should make several measurements over time to estimate your consumption rate. Everything else is applying basic math.

Sounding Your Oil Tank

Sounding is an easier way if you have a surface heating oil tank. It is basically the same as measuring with a dipstick, but instead of a stick you only need a measure tape. The whole procedure takes less than ten minutes.

Use the tape to measure all dimensions of your tank and calculate its gross volume in gallons. Dip the measure tape into the tank and extend it until it reaches the tank bottom. One it hits the bottom lock the tape and get it out to find the oil line. Divide the gallon capacity with its height to get the number of gallons per inch. Multiply it with the depth of oil you just measured and you will have the exact info on the remaining oil quantity. Store the data of inches per gallon of your tank to make future measurements without these calculations.

Here is a chart that will help you figure out the number of gallons you have remaining in your oil tank – just measure how many inches of fuel oil are in your tank and use the tank chart to determine how many gallons of fuel you have remaining:

Temperature strip

This is the smartest way to find out the level of oil once you have familiarized with dimensions of the tank. Ventilate the room where your tank is so the air temperature may change over a short period of time. Liquid portion of the tank volume will change the temperature much slower than the air which is inside. Right after you heat up the ventilated room, put the temperature stick on a tank’s side wall to find out the level at which its temperature changes. You can draw a vertical inch scale on that wall with a metallic marker to help you determine how much oil is inside.