Photograph of  an oil tank with questionable support - courtesy Arlene Puentes, Kingston NY How to Check Oil Tank Legs, Feet & Piers

  • OIL TANK SUPPORT - CONTENTS: How to inspect oil tank feet, piers, protection & support; Risk of oil tanks tipping over, leaks - Guide to visual inspection of home heating oil tanks
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about oil tank support requirements:legs, feet, piers

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

This article discusses inspection of oil tank support and piers.

The photo above shows an oil tank supporting leg (commonly made of iron pipe) that has been so exposed to flooding that it is badly rusted and about to split and collapse. If the pier or foot supporting an oil tank collapses, tips or slips and the oil tank falls over, a costly oil leak as well as possible damage from loss of heat to the building could be the result.

This is a section of our article on inspecting above ground oil tanks for defects. The article and photographs below give advice and example photos for the visual inspection of above ground oil tanks for leaks and damage including damaged or leaky oil storage tanks, improper oil tank piping, valves, and indoor-type oil tanks located outdoors. Page top photo of collapsing is courtesy Arlene Puentes.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Oil Storage Tank Support Requirements: feet, legs, piers, strapping, impact protection

Photograph of a tipping outdoor oil tank support pier

OIL TANK SUPPORT and Oil Tank Protection Inspection

Here are a some important indicators of tank condition that any home owner or home inspector can examine when an oil storage tank is visible and accessible inside or at a building.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Are the tank support legs sound and on firm footing? If required by local ordnance, is other tank support in place?

A standard 275-gallon tank with an average capacity of 260 gallons weighs about 2000 lbs. Placed on wood or dirt the tank is likely to tip and spill.

The photo shows a seriously tipping oil tank support pier, risking tipping of the tank, oil spillage, loss of heat (risking frozen pipes and water or mold damage) and environmental contamination.

Photo courtesy Arlene Puentes, Kingston NY

Photograph of rusty oil tank supporting leg, indicating a history of basement water entry

What about rusty oil tank feet? The rust shown in this photo is trivial in that it has not caused enough damage that we have any concern that the tank is going to tip over - at least not in the near future.

But rust on oil tank supporting feet for an indoor oil storage tank, especially on those back feet close to the wall, hard to reach, and hard to re-paint, are a great indicator of the history of water entry in a building.

Outdoor oil tank, no support, on ground (C) D Friedman S Vermilye

What about just skipping oil tank feet entirely. Why can't we just sit the oil tank on the ground?

Steve Vermilye (photo at left) looked concerned for a reason. This oil storage tank had not much besides luck holding it up, and in addition, the tank was not designed for ground-contact.

This oil tank installation is inviting rust perforation of the oil tank or a tipped-over oil tank spill and loss of heat all at once.

Oil Tank Protection From Vehicles or from Tipping-over

Photograph of rusty oil tank supporting leg, indicating a history of basement water entry

Regardless of whether an oil tank is installed indoors or outdoors above ground, it must be properly supported. Some municipalities also require installation of special protection to assure that a tank cannot tip over, even if its feet are damaged.

A steel pipe may be installed in the floor next to the tank and extended vertically above the tank and then after making a 90 deg. bend, secured to the wall to "cage" the oil tank.

Our photo (left) shows steel piping installed to protect an outdoor oil tank from tipping over.

Where oil tanks are installed in garages, some jurisdictions require that the garage oil tank (and boiler or furnace if one is present) also be protected from being struck by a vehicle using similar iron pipe guards as just cited above.

Also see additional visibly detectable oil tank defects listed at Home Inspection Report Language Library: Visible Defects in Oil Tank Installations, Tanks, and Heating Oil Piping.

Reader comment: NFPA & Other Standards: requirements for support and anchoring of oil tanks

2 Feb 2015 NHFireBear said:

NFPA 31 mentions "API Standard 650, Specifications for Welded Steel Tanks for Oil Storage", from the American Petroleum Institute, for guidance on SEISMIC protection for installation of above-ground tanks.

It also addresses wind load on tanks, and raises awareness of "sloshing" and resulting "uplift" of supports, which could result in shifting and collapse.

Similarly, like outside propane tanks, oil tanks in areas subject to FLOODING must be properly secured to prevent them from floating away, rupturing the pipes.


Thanks NHFireBear - we've added your note. Working together makes us smarter. - Ed.


Continue reading at OIL TANK INSPECTION & TROUBLESHOOTING or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Suggested citation for this web page

OIL TANK SUPPORT at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman