Now that winter is here, you've got to make sure that your home heating system is ready to provide plenty of warm air. If your system involves heating oil, now's the time to check for leaks. Heating oil leaks can wreak havoc on your heater, but they can also put your family at risk for fires and explosions. If you've never experienced a heating oil leak, you may not know what to look for. Luckily, some tell-tale signs will help you identify heating oil leaks before you're faced with an emergency.

Here are four signs you need to look for. If you encounter any of these issues this winter, you need to contact your heating oil service provider as soon as possible. 

You Can Smell Heating Oil

If you have a heating oil system in your home, and you're worried about oil leaks, follow your nose. When your heating system is working properly, you shouldn't be able to smell any oil. If you do, there's a good indication that you have an oil leak. This is especially true if you can smell heating oil coming from your water faucets. If you get a strong whiff of heating oil when you turn on the faucets, call for a heating oil inspection right away. Your heating oil could be leaking into your groundwater supply. 

You've Got Oily Stains on the Ground

When it comes to oil stains, you might expect to see them on your driveway from time to time. But, you don't expect to see oil stains around the base of your oil tank. Oil stains on the ground point to one of two problems. First, your underground heating oil lines are leaking, which is allowing oil to seep up through the soil. Second, your heating oil tank is leaking. Both situations require immediate attention. 

You Can See Oil on the Heating Oil Tank

If you have found oil stains on the soil around your heating oil tank, you need to pinpoint the actual leak. Take a close look at your tank, especially around the seams. This is especially important if your heating oil tank shows signs of corrosion, or hasn't been replaced in a while. If you find oil leaks on your tank, contact your heating oil service provider as soon as possible. You'll need to invest in a new heating oil tank right away. 

You're Using More Heating Oil Than Usual

Finally, if you suspect a heating oil leak, pay attention to your heating oil consumption. If you've been in your home for several years, you know how much heating oil you should use for a normal winter. If you're using more oil than usual, and the winter temperatures haven't been unusually cold, your tank may be leaking oil. Call a heating oil delivery provider to schedule a tank inspection.