Heating Oil Storage Tank FAQs
Questions & Answers about Oil Tank
Types, Installation, Leaks Tests, Repairs
OIL TANKS - home - CONTENTS: Oil Storage Tank Information Website. What to do if you have an underground (UST) or above ground oil tank (AST). Oil tank life expectancy. Cause & prevention of leaky oil tanks. Oil tank abandonment, replacement options. Oil tank leak testing procedures, companies. Oil storage tank regulations
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about oil tanks: ASTs, USTs, oil tank life, oil tank regulations, leak testing, buried oil tank abandonment, oil tank removal, oil tank leak prevention, spill cleanup, oil piping, oil filters, oil tank regulations
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Heating oil storage tank questions & answers:
Frequently-asked questions and answers about oil storage tanks: installation, inspection, testing, leaks, abandonment, or repairs.
This oil tank information article series answers nearly all questions about above ground or buried oil storage tanks including oil tank inspection & testing, oil tank abandonment or removal, removal, oil storage tank & tank piping leak testing, leak prevention, and oil storage tank regulations.
Recent Questions & Answers about oil storage tanks
On 2016-07-29 18:34:54.237027 by (mod) - basement oil tank life
Kevin please search InspectApedia.com for OIL TANK LIFE to see details; you'll see that oil tank life will vary by environment, tank metal thickness & quality, the amount of water in the tank and other factors.
On 2016-07-27 17:46:52.812593 by Kevin Schnu
How long of a life does a AST in my basement have
On 2016-05-01 18:00:27.060329 by James Gordon
Can I locate my fuel oil tank alongside a concrete block wall on a concrete surface at least 10 feet or more away from the furnace?
On 2016-02-06 15:48:14.680570 by (mod) - oil tank fume cleanup
Where the items absorbed fumes only, laundering and cleaning usually works. But until the spill is completely cleaned up it'll be tough to have success.
On 2016-02-06 09:32:28.897935 by morgan
Hi I am a renter who recently had an oil tank at the home I rent leak oil into the ground outside of the home. The entire house and all of our belongings including matresses furniture pillows,clothes books papers everything smells like oil.
I am wondering what is salvageable and what I can do to remove the overwhelming smell. I have an infant and 2 young children and am at a loss on what I can save. Please if any1 has any help I would greatly appreciate it!
On 2016-01-17 08:46:23.576505 by Lisa
I'm in the process of purchasing a home and luckily inspection found a buried tank. Tests showed contaminated soil, the tank and contaminated soil have been removed to DEEP standards but I'm told some contaminated soil remains, it's close to the foundation of the house.
The leak was not significant, No signs of water contamination, not possible that it would affect neighbors as it is in an isolated location.
My question is what risk I have regarding the remaining contaminated soil. It seems possible at some point the contaminated soil could affect drinking water, The foundation could be compromised, etc. the house is also listed on the country web site. It seems that could also affect the value of the home and the ability to sell.
I'd appreciate any information you could provide. Thanks so much.
On 2016-01-09 17:34:06.134679 by (mod) - oil tank data tag information
Yes older oil tanks have a welded-on data tag with some basic information; newer oil tanks that I've seen have a stick-on label instead. That's not going to give much detail beyond a UL Listing, tank size, and rating, and perhaps the tank manufacturer.
I'm not familiar with owners manuals provided for oil storage tanks.
In Canada there are government-sponsored oil storage tank guides such as one provided by the DEC for Newfoundland and Labrador. Those won't discuss your specific tank nor any cathodic protection that may have been installed.
On 2016-01-09 17:21:46.056344 by Anonymous
does my tank have a info plate and I hope it might be located on the top somewhere what say you for this ?
On 2016-01-09 17:19:36.389656 by (mod)
You might get help by contacting local oil tank installers in your area to ask who installed the tank.
On 2016-01-09 17:17:34.300434 by tom
I have a in the ground tank and now can't find the info packet it is a cathodic protected tank I know the tank # but cant find the owners manuel etc I NEED TO GET FURTHER INFO ON MY TANK
On 2015-11-19 18:03:15.038595 by (mod)
Interesting question Alina.
Sure the dryer is venting warm moist air. It might also be warming the oil tank.
But it'd take some odd geometry for the dryer exhaust to actually enter the oil storage tank in any volume. I can imagine a worst case (falling outdoor temperatures, tank interior cooling so it draws in a bit of outside air and the dryer is venting moist air at that time) but even then I doubt much moisture would enter the tank from the dryer vent.
Moiisture can collect over years of changing temperatures from air movement in and out of a tank alone, but that wouldn't happen in a short time.
Use our page bottom CONTACT link to send me some photos for further comment.
On 2015-11-18 16:15:15.963431 by Alina
Hi, Can you tell me if having a dryer vent right next to an outdoor oil tank would cause large amounts of water to collect in tank due to condensation? The outdoor tank was installed recently (the house was built with an underground tank originally) and wedged between the dryer vent and a propane tank.
During this past winter (our second one at the house) the burner failed, most likely due to excessive water in the fuel tank (we were told 9 gallons). I have photos to show how close together they are--will try to attach or send separately. I am trying to understand how so much water got inside the tank and wondered if the hot moist air from the vent is a factor. Thank you for your help!
where can I get financial aid for oil tank removal?
(Apr 3, 2014) Edward Alwis said:
My 275 oil Tank started to leak yesterday. The local oil company came and replaced it. But asking for more 2000 to replace it . I cannot afford this ?. Is there any program that I can apply to get some assistance?
Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Edward, some states or municipalities have financial aid for oil tank replacement. I'd start by calling your local building department.
We give more extensive information on financial aid for oil tank removal at
(May 28, 2014) Mr Vernon Anning said:
Are metal oil tanks legal in rented home properties
I have not been able to find any regulation that differentiates in the types of oil storage tank material based on a property being rented versus occupied by an owner.
Question: should the seller remove an abandoned oil tank in Richmond VA?
(June 7, 2014) BevO said:
We are trying to buy a house in Richmond, and our inspector has found that there is an abandoned underground oil tank. Should we ask the seller to remove it? If we must remove it, about how much would it cost us to have it removed and replace the soil for the area which the tank occupies? Thanks
Nice to hear from my home town, though when I lived in Richmond we still heated with coal.
Our best advice for home buyers looking at a property where there is a buried oil tank is in the article above. If any of that was unclear please let me know.
In general what a home seller "should" do when selling a home is set by the terms of contract of sale as well as good sense in making a property marketable. If the oil tank has not leaked, most likely its removal (rather than proper abandonment in place) is not justified.
Question: what kind of oil is put in outdoor residential oil storage tanks
(June 14, 2014) Anonymous said:
what type of oil do i need when it is stored in an outside tank ?
the choice of type of oil depends on its use;
Home heating oil is usually No. 2 heating oil. In a freezing climate you may need to use a pour point depressant or kerosene mix to avoid oil waxing and loss of heat.
Question: Are home owners required to put a drip pan under their oil tank? Oil tanks are leaking in my mobile home park.
(July 20, 2014) Kathy Parmer said:
I live in a mobile home park in Lititz, PA. Is there a law that requires home owners to have a drip pan under there oil tanks?
I know that several of them are leaking. There are also numerous under ground oil tanks that are no longer in use. Some days you can actually smell fuel oil in the air.
The owners of the park reside in CA. They allowed homes to be set up right over the fill line sticking out of the ground. Is there a government agency to contact? Thank you for your assistance with this matter. Kathy
Leaky oil tanks must be reported to your state's department of environmental protection, typically within 24 hours.
Question: which way up for "oil line check valve"?
(Dec 2, 2014) Ralph said:
Does it matter if the check valve in the supply line has the bolt on the top or the bottom? I can get a reading on the vacuum gauge(burner runs ok,but has a whine)
Ralph some check valves only work in a horizontal position with the marked valve top up. Others include mechanisms allowing the valve to operate in any position. So I don't know about your valve.
(Dec 2, 2014) Ralph said:
Cant get a reading on the vac gauge.
Yes, on at least some check valve models there is an internal hinged flapper that will not work properly if upside down.
Question: loud BANG from the crawl area where we have an abandoned oil tank
(Jan 28, 2015) Anonymous said:
I have recently abandoned my oiltank in my crawl area it is in horizontal position I drained most of the oil and caped all the plug.
Every now and then we hear a lowd bang from the crawl area .can this be from the old 280 gal oil tank and if so what can I do to stop this loud bang that can wake you up im positive its not the water pipes expanding and contracting I put a pressure reducing valve on the water main with a expansion tank
thank Tom M
Thermal changes could be making the empty tank steel warp and sound bangy. Have someone take a look.
05/11/2015 NHFireBear adds:
Anonymous (regarding abandoned oil tank): State and local codes vary, but the national NFPA 31 Standard for Installation of Oil Burning Equipment requires that the old oil tank be emptied, purged and removed from the premises.
However, if you converted fuels and want to keep the existing tank in case you switch back, you have to LEAVE THE VENT PIPE intact and open, plug the fill pipe with concrete and all other pipes must be capped or sealed.
See NFPA 31 (2011):7.12.
Atmospheric pressure changes can, in fact, cause a sealed tank to "bang" as its walls expand and contract.
More Reading for People Buying a Home with an Oil Storage Tank
OIL TANK, BURIED, ADVICE - what to do if there is any reason to suspect that a buried oil tank (underground oil tank or UST) is or ever was installed at a property.
OIL TANK LEAK TEST METHODS - You should not complete the purchase of a home with a buried oil storage tank (previous or present) before taking steps to determine whether or not a tank is or was present, and if you are not given absolutely reliable documented proof that a tank was professionally removed or abandoned, then you will need to test the site even if the tank has been removed.
You need to know the condition of the oil tank and and if it has been removed or abandoned, you need to know the oil tank site leak conditions & risks.
OIL TANK ABANDONING PROCEDURE Home owners who have old oil tanks above ground or any age oil tank below ground should also be sure to review these procedures and regulations for Abandoning Commercial vs. Residential Underground Oil Storage Tanks (UST)
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 Fuel Storage] Tank Corrosion Study, U.S. EPA report on gasoline and oil tank corrosion, James H. Pim, P.E., John M. Searing, Suffolk County DOHS, 15 Horseblock Place, Farmingville Long Island, NY 11728, November 1988, for the Office of Underground Storage Tanks, U.S. EPA. ATTN: David O'Brien. The report presents a study of 500 underground storage tanks spanning 24 February 1987 and September 1 1988 and summarizes earlier reports on this same study. Tank sizes ranged from 175 gallons to 50,000 gallons, and oil tank ages ranged from two years to 70 years old. All 500 oil storage tanks were constructed of welded steel, and 12 other tanks that were other than plain steel were also examined. Summary [with minor edits for clarity by DJF] Five hundred plain steel [underground fuel storage] tanks plus twelve corrosion protected [under ground oil] storage tanks were removed from the ground over an eighteen month period in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. The oil tanks were examined carefully before disposal to gather statistics on the nature and extent of steel oil storage tank corrosion that had attacked them. Information was gathered on the number, type, location, and size of oil storage tank perforations [oil storage tank leak points] the general interior and exterior corrosion condition of the oil storage tank, soil, backfill, and groundwater conditions; the presence of leaked product [heating oil], and oil storage tank statistics such as tank volume, steel plate thickness, location, product [type of heating oil stored], tank age, etc. The statistics were compiled and compared, observations made, and conclusions developed. The major conclusions [were] summarized as follows:
Size is more important than age in predicting oil storage tank failures
In general, small tanks are much more likely to perforate than large tanks due to thinner walls found in smaller oil storage tanks
Compared to external corrosion, internal corrosion is insignificant [in the underground oil storage tanks examined - warning from DF: the opposite is probably the case regarding above ground storage tanks].
Fuel oil tanks are just as susceptible to leak perforation as gasoline tanks of the same size
Existing fuel storage tanks are in worse shape than is demonstrated by storage tank testing
Storage tanks to not always leak immediately on perforation
 Thanks to Arlene Puentes for for technical edits on oil tank leak advice- 12/2005. Arlene Puentes is a licensed home inspector, educator, and building failures researcher in Kingston, NY.
 "A Case Study of a Large Scale Precision [oil or fuel] Tank Testing Program", Diane H. Heck, Tetra Tech Richardson, Newark, Delaware, web search 4/27/12, original source: http://info.ngwa.org/GWOL/pdf/870143411.PDF, copy on file as /heating/OIl Tanks UST/Tank_Test_Heck_870143411.pdf Abstract:
In September 1986, a precision tank testing program was started to bring a major Maryland utility into compliance with the State of Maryland Oil Spill Control Regulations regarding underground storage tanks. This program involved the testing of over 240 tanks ranging in size from 300 gallons to 1,500 gallons located throughout the entire state of Maryland.
Analyses of the testing results revealed that 40% of the systems tested leaked. Piping leaks caused 82% of the testing failures and tank leaks caused the remaining 18%. Tank systems located in urban areas experienced a 50% testing failure rate, while tank systems located in rural areas experienced only a 25% failure rate. Leaks in tank systems in urban areas appear to be the result of structural loading and corrosion, affects [effects] absent in rural areas. The age, capacity, and usage of the tanks did not have a role in causing leaks either in the piping or the tank.
 Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, August 1985 p.18. Fuel Oil & Oil Heating Magazine, 3621 Hill Rd., Parsippany, NJ 07054, 973-331-9545
 Standards of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, as referenced by "Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners,", Charles H. Burkhardt, 1961, 3rd Ed., McGraw Hill Book Company, p. 172
 NFPA - the National Fire Protection Association can be found online at www.nfpa.org
 "The Interim Prohibition Guidance for Design and Installation of Underground Oil Storage Tanks", U.S. EPA, EPA/530-SW-85203, Office of Underground Storage Tanks, Washington D.C.
Arlene Puentes, an ASHI member and a licensed home inspector in Kingston, NY, and has served on ASHI national committees (Bylaws, Standards), as well as HVASHI Chapter President. Ms. Puentes can be contacted at email@example.com
 US EPA "How do you Properly Close a UST?" is summarized at epa.gov/OUST/fsprevnt.htm These details for temporary and permanent closing of underground oil storage tanks are provided by the US EPA as well.
 "How do you choose the right tank testing method?", Cynthia Johnson, Fuel Oil & Oil Heat Magazine, November 1995
 National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, PO Box 380, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407
 "Homeowners Guide to Fuel Storage," Agway Energy Products, Verbank, NY, November 1990
 "Causes of Underground Corrosion", Harco Corporation, Paper HC-36, Median OH
 "Toxicological profile for fuel oils", U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Atlanta, GA 1995. - http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp75.html
 Public Health Statement for Fuel Oils, ATSDR, (the full document original source can be found at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs75.html). An excerpt from this document is just below. ATSDR,
Division of Toxicology,
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-32,
Atlanta, GA 30333 888-422-8737.
 "Oil Tank Problems" [advertisement], The Poughkeepsie Journal, 18 April 2013 p. 4A, placed by www.C2G.us, an oil storage tank removal company quoted a price for a package including cleaning and abandonment of any size underground oil storage tank, installation of a new 275 gallon above ground tank with gauge, vent, fill and alarm, tank abandonment certificate and oil tank bottom sludge disposal, with prices starting "as low as" $2,175. U.S. The company, C&G Environmental, at 165 Sherwood Avenue
Farmingdale, NY 11735 and at 83 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561, can be contacted on Long Island, NY at 631-414-7757 and in the Hudson Valley NY at 845-255-4900
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, PO Box 380, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407
"Homeowners Guide to Fuel Storage," Agway Energy Products, Verbank, NY, November 1990
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