Risk Insights: Waste Oil Heater Safety

Risk Insights: Waste Oil Heater Safety

Homepage » Resecō Inform Posts » White Papers » Risk Management White Papers » Risk Insights: Waste Oil Heater Safety

Risk Insights header image A wide range of industrial organizations generate waste oil—which is considered any synthetic- or petroleum-based oil (e.g., fuel oil, motor oil, hydraulic oil or transmission fluid) that’s no longer able to be used for its intended purpose—within their operations.

Such oil typically reaches this state by way of breaking down over time, possessing impurities, or becoming overly exposed to natural elements.

While it can’t be used for its original intention, many organizations have sought to repurpose or recycle this oil through the implementation of waste oil heaters. These appliances are able to burn waste oil and convert it into energy, thus creating a sustainable method for providing warmth to commercial properties.

In addition to their environmental advantages, waste oil heaters can benefit organizations in several ways—reducing utility expenses and minimizing the costs that often accompany the disposal of waste oil through a third-party service. Yet, these appliances must be properly designed, installed, operated and maintained to prevent potential hazards. As such, review this guidance for an outline of waste oil heater safety precautions.

Design and Installation Precautions

To effectively establish a safe design and installation process for a waste oil heater, follow these tips:

  • Refrain from creating a homemade waste oil heater, as it can carry numerous safety risks. Be sure to only purchase such an appliance from a trusted manufacturer.
  • Ensure the waste oil heater has been tested, listed, and labeled by a nationally recognized safety certification organization—such as Underwriter Laboratories (UL). Further, all waste oil storage tanks should also be approved by UL. In particular:
    • Aboveground storage tanks should be labeled as meeting either UL 80, UL 142 or UL 142A standards.
    • Underground storage tanks should be labeled as meeting either UL 58 or UL 1316 standards.
  • Make sure the waste oil heater’s design is compliant with any applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes—namely, NFPA 31 (Standard for the Installation of Oil-burning Equipment).
  • Confirm that the waste oil heater is equipped with the following safety features:
    • Combustion and atomizing air sensors
    • A flame failure device
    • Thermostatic controls
    • Safety shut-off switches and valves
  • Select an appropriate location for the waste oil heater to be installed. Specifically, this location should offer adequate ventilation and allow for enough clearance between the heater and all waste oil storage tanks (at least 5 feet), as well as between the storage tanks and any electrical paneling (at least 3 feet).
  • Have the waste oil heater installed by a competent and qualified professional, in accordance with the appliance manufacturer’s instructions.


Operation and Maintenance Precautions

In order to safely operate and maintain a waste oil heater, utilize the following best practices:

  • Ensure that the operation of the waste oil heater is compliant with any applicable state and local regulations, as well as all relevant Environmental Protection Agency standards.
  • Avoid storing combustible materials or flammable liquids in the same location as the waste oil heater.
  • Promote responsible waste oil management protocols. This includes:
    • Solely burning waste oil that’s listed as compatible with the heater
    • Never mixing incompatible substances that could cause hazardous reactions, release toxic fumes or otherwise lead to contamination concerns within the waste oil supply (e.g., antifreeze, paint thinner, oil additives, gasoline, chlorinated solvents, and cleaning chemicals)
    • Disposing of contaminated waste oil in a safe and timely manner
    • Making sure that all waste oil storage tanks are correctly labeled
    • Utilizing waste oil supply lines that are properly protected from mechanical damages and consist of copper, steel, or brass components
  • Have all exhaust and combustion gases stemming from the waste oil heater adequately vented to the outside of the commercial property through an effective stack system. Such a system acts as a filtration device, moving potentially harmful gases outdoors and ensuring fresh air indoors.
  • Keep the waste oil heater on a regular inspection, maintenance and cleaning schedule, in accordance with the appliance manufacturer’s instructions. Take note that individual elements of the appliance may require varying maintenance and cleaning intervals.
  • Only permit trained employees to operate, inspect and clean the waste oil heater. Instruct these employees to wear appropriate personal protective equipment when doing so—including eye, face and respiratory protection.
  • Consult a competent and qualified professional to perform any waste oil heater repairs.


For more risk management guidance, contact us today.

This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2021 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.