Heating oil tanks are generally very well constructed and extremely durable, and you can rely on them to store your oil without any issue. Most tanks are built to last 10-20 years – if not longer – and secure against the ravages of time or almost anything Mother Nature throws at it.
That said, it’s time to talk about tank safety and construction. Many people, especially those who are unfamiliar with heating oil and on-site storage, have expressed (unfounded) concerns about oil safety, tank releases, and protecting their homes and families.
Most tanks installed or replaced today are aboveground tanks which are placed either in a basement, closet, crawlspace or outdoors. These tanks are made of reliable twelve gauge steel, engineered for the highest level of environmental protection and typically hold 275 gallons of oil.
Double wall tanks offer higher protection, by containing any potential spills and leaks from defective pipes, couplings and fittings that are usually under the tank. High-quality double wall tanks, like those manufactured by Roth, feature an inner tank constructed of blow-molded, seamless, lead-proof high-density polyethylene; and the outer tank is corrosion-resistant steel. For added security, the external tank should be able to contain 110% of the capacity of the inner tank. A Roth 275-gallon tank is 43” long by 28” wide – compact enough to fit discretely in many closets – and is protected by a 30-year limited warranty, backed by $2M insurance against property damage.
While durability and fuel security are the uppermost concerns when installing a fuel storage tank, storms and environmental factors can corrode any tank over time. While tank releases are rare, regular maintenance can help you avoid the mess, stress and expense. The Massachusetts Dept. of Energy and Environmental Affairs offers Tips for Maintaining Your Home Heating System, including the following:
- Inspect for leaks annually, by checking the tank, fuel delivery line, valves, piping and fittings.
- Inspect the vent pipe each fall to make sure it is free of obstructions.
- For underground tanks, determine the tank material and age, and consider upgrading to an aboveground tank when appropriate.
- Have your oil company inspect the stability of your aboveground tank.
- Check for pitting and corrosion on the tank.
- If you suspect a leak, contact your oil company immediately.
For additional protection, consider purchasing a tank replacement insurance policy, which includes EPA-approved ultrasonic testing. Ultrasonic thickness gauges provide nondestructive testing to determine the integrity of fuel oil storage tanks.
Your home heating oil storage tank should give you years of worry-free reliable fuel supply. Programs such as Tank Sure integrate the testing recommended by the American Petroleum Institute as well as the data collection and analysis required by the EPA, to ensure that it does.