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OIL STORAGE TANKS
ABANDONING OIL TANKS
AGE of OIL TANK
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BURIED OIL TANK ADVICE
BURIED OIL TANKS, FINDING
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
DEFINITION of Heating & Cooling Terms
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DIRECTORY of OIL TANK EXPERTS
FILTERS, OIL on HEATING EQUIPMENT
FIRE SAFETY CONTROLS
FLOATING UP OIL STORAGE or SEPTIC TANKS
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
FUEL OIL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
FUEL UNIT, HEATING OIL PUMPS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GAUGES ON HEATING EQUIPMENT
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU Cost Table
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HEATING OIL CLOUD WAX GEL POINT
HEATING OIL EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
HEATING OIL - OLD, USEABLE?
HEATING OIL PIPING TROUBLES
HEATING OIL SHELF LIFE
HEATING OIL SLUDGE
HEATING OIL TANKS
HEATING OIL TYPES & PROPERTIES
HEATING OIL USAGE RATE
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HOME BUYERS GUIDE TO OIL TANKS
NOISE CONTROL for HEATING SYSTEMS
NOISES COMING FROM WATER HEATER
ODORS & SMELLS DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL FILTERS on HEATING EQUIPMENT
OIL FUEL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
OIL ODORS, LEAKY OIL TANK PIPING
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
THERMAL TRACKING & HEAT LOSS
VIDEO GUIDES: Heating System Videos
VIDEO GUIDES - InspectAPedia.com
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to find buried oil tanks: this article assists property buyers, owners, and inspectors in the location of buried oil tanks or the detection of evidence that an underground (or even an above ground) oil tank is or was in use at a property. We provide an illustrated guide to finding buried oil storage tanks by visual inspection. The article and photographs used to show the reader ways to find buried oil tanks include examples of clues leading to the discovery of "nearly hidden" buried or underground oil tanks which were found at residential properties and which avoided very costly surprises later for the new owner.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Site Inspection Procedures: Visual Inspection of a Building Site for Evidence of "Nearly Hidden" Buried Oil Tanks
The first three photos below show us exploring a hole in a bald patch of grass. Oil spills, such as during a heating oil delivery, can poison the soil so that even when no heating oil is visible or no odors remain, the grass may still refuse to grow in this spot. So we explored further as our photos show.
Many visual or historical clues may indicate that there is or was a buried oil or other fuel tank at a property. Visible oil tank fill or vent pipes protruding from the ground, depressions near a building, or even areas of dead grass or plantings in a small spot where a buried or previous fuel tank fill pipe may have been installed - from spillage of fuel.
At one site this clue led to the discovery that the tank "removal" had consisted of nothing more than the unscrewing and removal of the fill and vent pipes from the leaky oil tank.
Age and type of property, existing oil fill and vent piping locations, existing oil tank size and ratings, abandoned heating oil lines, marks where equipment was previously mounted, footprints of old heating equipment, and other clues can form strong enough evidence of a risk of a hidden or improperly removed oil tank that we might then advise further investigation.
Coffee Can Hides an Improperly Abandoned Oil Tank Still in Place
The next two photos show us exploring what appeared to be a simple coffee can tossed in the yard of a residential property.
The buried oil tanks discovered below these "nearly hidden" filler pipe openings needed to be tested for leakage and then properly abandoned - a significant expense. What is significant about this "abandoned" UST is that the evidence right at ground level (we could see down into the oil storage tank still in place but not in use) one could infer that the oil storage tank had not been properly abandoned. The risks include un-discovered heating oil leaks into the soil at this property.
See SIGNS OF BURIED OIL TANKS for a detailed discussion of the study of outdoor clues used to find a buried oil tank at a residential property.
In the author's view (DJF), oil tank testing services and professional environmental inspectors are expected to include both a visual screen of the property for clues such as these, and also a combination of other methods to detect buried oil tanks. Some clues that area strong evidence of a buried oil tank at a property are listed and illustrated below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to find a buried oil tank
Question: A buried oil tank was on a property 50 years ago - how can we be sure there is no remaining hazard? Can we assume the tank has dissolved away?
Looking at property to purchase. Now heated with gas....has been for over 50 years. Oil tank buried somewhere on property...detectors cannot locate. Can we safely assume tank deteriorated?? Soil samples = no oil contamination thanx - C.T. 2/26/13
Reply: how to decide when enough looking, soil scanning & soil testing for oil tanks and spills are enough to quit?
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem or to get better clues about the history of oil tanks at a property:.
That said, here are some things to consider:
Not I nor anyone with a modicum of sense would promise you, by email, about a property of which we know nothing, that your site is free of risk of an expensive clenaup job due to a prior oil tank leak or spill based on the information in your note.
If you have reason to believe that an oil tank was previously at the property I would not assume that there was no leak or no remains of an old tank just because no one has seen anything.
With all of these dire warnings the question really is how much time, effort, and money are appropriate to pour into the ground trying to reduce risk of a hidden hazard.
Typically for a site that we know something about, people do soil testing in the most-likely tank locations and, absent any other data, for a residential property they give up, accepting the risk of buried hazards and future costs. It makes sense to think that no one in their right mind would install a buried oil tank at some great distance away from the building it serves, but indeed sometimes tanks are more distant than one might guess.
I have, for example, wandered in the woods of a property being bought by a friend; we found a large above ground oil tank hidden way back in the woods - from years ago; happly there was no leakage. Worse, a buried steel tank, if not properly abandoned, could have been left empty and could lead to a sudden soil collapse, even someone falling into the hole - with serious consequences. That tank was nowhwere near any existing building, but we found the remains of an old building - just the foundation that the tank had served. In fact it was the site history, signs of an abandoned road through the woods, and the discovery of the old foundtion that led me to the oil tank.
Remember that if you buy a property and do not find an oil spill, and if you are later selling the property and your new buyer finds a spill, it becomes your cost bear.
For a site where people have reason to be extra careful or concerned (there are factors that can raise our fear-o-meter or lower it) other options are available including consulting with an environmental expert who will audit site history, do a records search, and who might use ground scanning radar or other methods to make a more accurate search of the property, ending with a report that either found something or makes thje property owners comfortable.
You probably want some combination of research into site history, visual inspection, and testing to decide how much risk remains to you. But if we knew that there had been a buried tank at a property, or were pretty sure there was one that had not been professionally abandoned, presuming it magically disappeared with no work on anybody's part is a bit of a risky proposition.
In sum, when do we quit looking for a buried hazard? Armed with the information you have or can find out, and the extent of property that remains unexplored, and the probability that a buried oil tank was actually installed at some remote spot not near any building, you will decide how much remaining risk there is and and how much to spend on reducing that risk (you can't get it to zero in some cases). That's for you to decide with some advice from an on-site expert.
Thanx....just had it inspected..
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