Millions of home owners choose oil burners as their preferred method for heating the house. These systems are efficient, clean and easy to use. Indeed, when timer and thermostat controls are used, the system runs completely automatically – just set it and forget it.

Because the system works away quietly in the background, many people overlook the importance of making sure their oil burners get routine maintenance work. Running an oil burner that is not maintained properly results in poorer fuel efficiency. Since oil is an expensive commodity, degraded efficiency means having to pay more to heat the home. This equates to literally burning money and can cost thousands of extra dollars over time.

It's not just the additional expenditure on fuel that results in unmaintained oil burners costing more money than regularly serviced ones. Various parts of the oil burner itself will deteriorate over time and will eventually have to be replaced. It is almost certain that parts that are serviced regularly will have a much longer useful life, often lasting several years longer than neglected parts.

Yet another factor to bear in mind is that a repair when the system breaks down is going to be much more expensive for householders who do not use the services of an oil burner maintenance company. Furthermore, maintenance companies will always prioritize existing clients. Those who do not use a maintenance company may have a wait of several days before their system is up and running again. Because breakdowns will only be detected when the heating system is being used, unprotected householders are likely to have to endure a certain amount of discomfort.

Breakdowns are much more likely to occur with unserviced systems. During a regular service, technicians are often able to identify worn parts and parts likely to fail and they can eliminate the problems before they arise. This greatly reduces the chances of the system breaking down.

Obviously, there is a cost involved in having routine maintenance work done, but this work usually pays for itself by reducing the spend on fuel. For example, a routine service may cost $200 but a properly serviced oil burner could save 100 gallons of fuel in a year. As oil prices are reaching all-time highs, this could mean a saving of $400 dollars a year. This saving more than compensates for the cost of the maintenance.

The burner works by igniting the oil in a combustion chamber. Water in the pipes around the chamber is heated by the burning oil. Since oil is a type of carbon similar to coal, the burning process leads to the creation of soot. The soot will quickly build up on the walls of the chamber and act as an insulator. This in turn means that it takes longer for the water to reach required temperature, resulting in a longer burn and higher oil consumption.

The water passing through the burner will also leave insulating deposits on pipes and this scale should be removed periodically. The high temperatures generated will take their toll on other components in the system, and these should be monitored.

It is only common sense to keep oil burners well maintained. And the best time to get this done is in the spring. This is the low season for maintenance companies and many will have attractive special offers available around that time, giving householders the opportunity to save even more money.