Maintaining Your Fuel Oil Tank
Proper care and maintenance of your fuel oil tank, lines, and furnace can reduce your chance of spilling oil and being faced with costly environmental problems. Fuel oil spills in residential areas can:
Each of these problems can cost thousands of dollars to correct. The following tips can help homeowners avoid costly repairs and problems associated with leaks and spills from home heating oil systems.
Inspect your tank and heating equipment before and during the heating season
Check the condition of your tank and lines. The life of your tank depends on many variables such as the tank construction, tank installation, soil and ground water conditions, and maintenance of the tank. Inspect your tank for signs of corrosion.
Make sure the fill cap and the vent cap are in place and tightly secured.
Check the stability of the tank support and the ground underneath aboveground tanks. Many tanks have buckled or tipped due to instabilities and frost heaving. If you have a wooden tank stand, use only pressure treated lumber. Pressure treated 4x4's make an excellent tank cradle.
Keep the fill pipe accessible and visible to the delivery company.
Place oil lines between tank and furnace either under concrete or in protective tubing. Check fuel lines for crimps and replace any damaged fuel lines. Use flexible tubing if frost heaving is a problem.
Keep all pipe connections clean and tight. Check for drips from the fittings and the filter.
Clear snow, ice, insect nests or other debris from the tank vent to allow the tank to properly breathe.
Is there a danger of ice or snow sliding off a roof and damaging the tank, tank stand, or exposed fuel lines?
Look for signs of spillage near the fill and vent pipes. Stained soil and rock or distressed vegetation could indicate a fuel spill has occurred.
Water can collect inside a tank from condensation and cause internal corrosion. Trapped water can be controlled by removing the water from a drain plug, using water absorbent socks, or periodically using additives.
Buried tanks can corrode and leak without obvious signs on the surface. Be alert for unexplained fuel losses that might point to leakage.
For inside tanks, be alert for signs of oil in the sump pump pit and floor drains, and for any oil smell in the basement or crawl space.
All indoor tanks should have a vent alarm that alerts the fuel deliverer before the tank is full. When you receive oil, you can ask the deliverer to verify that the whistle is operating.
Vandalism: to reduce vandalism, break off the ears on the butterfly nut on the goldenrod filter. Recommend a metal canister over the filter instead of glass to eliminate any breakage of the glass filter. The glass filter can easily broken by any object and at any time of year. The entire contents of the tank will be lost if that occurs.
Place copper fuel line in sheathed-flexible (conduit) line.
Strongly recommend replacing fuel tank every 10 years. Corrosion both outside and inside of tank is a huge problem in this environment.
Place 275 gal tanks on side using 6” legs and on a concrete pad.
Things to consider
If a spill does occur
Accidents can happen, despite your best efforts to prevent them. In the event of a spill, the main priorities should be stopping the flow of oil at its source and containing the oil that has spilled. This will help minimize the impact to the environment and to your property and that of your neighbors. In most cases, cleanup consists of the removal and disposal of any contaminated soils or other media and repair or replacement of leaking tanks and/or fuel lines. Technical assistance is available from DEC Prevention and Emergency Response Program staff, who may be contacted at one of the Area Response Team Offices listed below.
Homeowners are liable under State law for the cleanup of spills from home heating oil tanks on their property. Sometimes homeowner insurance policies cover accidental spills from home heating oil tanks. Many policies, however, specifically exclude such pollution problems. Check with your agent to find out if you're covered.
Any spill of oil greater than one gallon to land or any amount to water should be reported to DEC. Fuel deliverers who discover an existing spill or contamination on a homeowner's property should inform the homeowner so that he or she can take steps to correct the situation.
For more information on spill prevention, cleanup, and reporting requirements, consult the DEC Prevention and Emergency Response Program website at http://www.dec.state.ak.us/spar/perp/index.htm or contact program staff at one of the Area Response Team Offices listed below.
| Outside normal business hours,
| FOR MORE INFORMATION
Additional information on aboveground and underground heating oil tank requirements is available via the DEC Storage Tank Program website at: