As the temperatures continue to drop, now is a good time to check on your home heating oil tank if your home has one. Cracks, leaks, and other faults with heating oil tanks can damage your home and the environment.
Residential heating oil tanks are tanks that store fuel oil to provide space heating and may be located aboveground (outside or in the basement) or underground (buried) on a property. Whether a heating oil tank is aboveground or underground, spills or leaks of heating oil can potentially occur during the tank's lifetime. When released indoors, heating oil can damage both a home and its contents and cause health problems. When released to the environment, heating oil can pollute drinking water supplies, contaminate soils, and expose the tank owner to liability if neighboring properties are affected by the release. Heating oil releases can also be expensive to clean up and might not be covered under homeowner’s insurance.
The best way to minimize the chances of something going wrong and incurring associated costs is to prevent issues from occurring in the first place. Routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs are the keys to prevention. Self-inspection checklists for both aboveground and underground heating oil tanks are available online at dep.pa.gov/homeheatingoil as well as what to do if you do experience a leak or spill.
The most important thing you can do as a tank owner is to familiarize yourself with the system. Look for signs of weakness or areas of improvement to identify concerns before an issue occurs. You may have an issue if you are suddenly using more oil than usual, odors are detectable in the home or near the tank, soil or nearby areas appear wet or stained, or the furnace is operating erratically.
For more information on home heating oil tanks, maintenance tips and a self-inspection checklist, visit dep.pa.gov/homeheatingoil.