Do I have an underground oil tank?

My 150 year old house is now heated by gas. In fact, gas service has been in the house for probably more than 100 years since there are pipes in the walls from old gas lighting.
Looking around the basement the other day, I noticed a small stub of a flexible 3/8" OD copper pipe peeking up from the concrete floor (it is in the area where I believe the old boiler was from long before we bought the house).
The inside of the pipe smelled of oil/grease and when I stuck a stiff wire down the pipe it seemed to run at least 2 feet horizontally just below the cement surface. Pulling back the wire, it was covered with an oily/greasy residue.
Does this signal that there was oil heat at some time or worse, the presence of an old underground oil tank beneath the basement? If not, what else could this small diameter pipe have been used for?
We have no other evidence of there ever being oil heat or oil tanks in our house.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It sounds like that is an oil line. If there is only one line, the tank would be located nearby. If the line is heading in the direction of an outside wall, I'd look on the outside of the house, where the line is heading. Dig about a foot or two away from the foundation and you may find it. Sometimes an opening was cut in the top of the tank and they were filled with sand, dirt, etc

Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I wouldn't pursue this. Forget you ever saw that line.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Cut the line as close to the floor as you can, and put something over it to cover it.
EPA is really miserable about underground tanks. And it's expensive to dig them out and back fill.
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
- Stormin Mormon -

- Nehmo – When I did a job like this, an agency of the state government, The Missouri Department of Natural Resources had jurisdiction. Since it wasn't commercial property, I didn't need any paperwork, permit, or inspection. I was obligated to report a spill if I discovered one.
I didn’t actually remove the tank; I already told the story: http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/msg/efa3ad93d638a8f1?hl=en
--
|||||||||||||||| Nehmo Sergheyev ||||||||||||||||


Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Uncovering an oil tank could cost you thousands of dollars - keep it quiet becaue if some inspector comes around - you could get screwed really badly. Years ago bought an old house with a furnace covered with asbestos - found out it would cost an arm and a leg to get rid of that thing - it went away quietly and some abatement contractor did not get into me for thousands of dollars.
Let sleeping dogs lie.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Rejoice. Maybe you struck oil. This may become a gusher.
--
Walter
www.rationality.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
RBM (remove this) wrote:

The tank could equally well have been in the basement. Look for evidence of patched-up holes in the basement walls where the old fill and vent pipes used to go through. In the best case you'll find the other end of the 3/8 line.
Chip C Toronto
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I was thinking the same thing. My parents house had a oil tank in the basement, then had it removed when the furnace was replaced with natural gas. There are still the two stub ends of the copper pipe, but they cut them off even with the floor and put some sort of concrete looking material into the pipe. I think it's that caulk made for patching concrete.
Look along all the walls for 2 patched holes (fill and vent). Probably about 5 to 6 feet from the floor. If you find them, look beneath them for the other end of the copper pipe.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
doggedyfight wrote:

Contrary to the others, I'd be cautious in trying to hide it too cleverly--
I wouldn't worry about doing anything about it, but if you attempt to cover it over and during a sale don't follow the particular rules regarding disclosure applicable to your state you would really be opening yourself to a liability issue were the obvious attempt to hide it be discovered by an inspector for the purchaser, for example. I'd put it back as it was and go on. If it were in my plans to be selling the property sometime in the near future, I'd investigate throroughly what is required in your state.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Duane Bozarth wrote:

...story about finding what could be old oil supply line...

Sorry, intended to add one other note...
It's also quite possible the tank was removed when the gas was installed or at a later time. If there's no evidence for having had a tank in the basement, I'd suspect it having been outside rather than under the basement floor although that is possible. Look for evidence of interior mounting, etc., first, then for external vent/fill pipes.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I agree. You could say you had no idea what it was and that you just cut it off because it was unsightly.
There's a fine line between making it aesthetically pleasing by covering it up, and making it look like you were trying to make its discovery difficult.
Technically you're in the clear anyway. If you had to ask here then you really _didn't_ know there was an underground tank.
;-)
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Did you have the home inspected when you bought it? If they missed it most others would. Like others suggeted I'd cut it down. You could break up the area around it cut it down below the surface throw on a concrete patch and paint the whole floor gray.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 27 May 2005 04:05:43 GMT, doggedyfight

I agree with the 'keep quiet' and destroy the evidence advice above. It could easily cost you over $ 10,000 if the EPA and the local authorities fing out and then have their way with you.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

if the EPA was able to do that to American homeowners there would be a revolt in this country and the EPA would be disbanded permanently!
That's one of those old wives tales told by retail gas station operators who have cried the blues over the EPA objecting to their massive spills of gasoline into water supplies...those clean up requirements have absolutely nothing to do with a homeowner who simply has a fuel oil storage tank at his house used for heating oil at his house that is not sold in retail commerce.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency does not care if you have a fuel oil tank in your backyard...there are some municipal governments in the "rust belt" states who have stupid ordinances regarding backyard tanks along with outrageous property taxes...I guess thats why most folks are moving out of those areas into the "red" states...
Bill
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't know whether it is EPA or local government, but the Authorities here in the Northeast are equally strict.
We lived in a 25 unit condo and for years properties changed hands without anybody even suspecting an underground tank. Then one buyer had an inspector that followed some old pipes and claimed there was an underground tank centered our backyard parking lot (which is about 100 ft x 400 feet)
Now this tank had not been used for probably 50 years and it was surrounded by a sea of asphalt parking lot. Also, nobody in our town has wells.
Yet, we ended up being forced to bring in some EPA-certified abatement contractor who dug a huge hole in our parking lot. He was required to keep removing dirt until his test kit could no longer detect any traces of hydrocarbons.
Total cost was about $25K. All because of a nosy buyer/inspector. The heartache of it all is that it is not even clear that the "environment" is any better off for this...
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
blueman wrote: ...

From EPA web site at http://www.epa.gov/swerust1/faqs/heatoil.htm
Tanks used for the storage of heating oil for consumptive use on the premises where stored are excluded from federal UST regulations. However, state or territorial regulatory agencies may regulate these tanks. You can view a map showing which states regulate these tanks but note that this data is from the Petroleum Equipment Institute Web site and may not be up-to-date. You should contact your local regulatory agency for more information.
The map:
http://www.epa.gov/swerust1/graphics/heatoil1.gif
Mostly the NE, everything NE of VA/WVA w/ the exception of PA, NJ and VT
Only others are those around the Great Lakes (MI, IL, WI) and somewhat surprisingly, in the Red States, KS, NE and MT.
The contact page--http://www.epa.gov/swerust1/states/statcon1.htm
HTH....
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 27 May 2005 04:05:43 GMT, doggedyfight

sounds like you have an oil tank buried on your property! If you go straight to the nearest outside wall of the house from the point where you see the copper tubing , there is probably a tank buried beside the house. You can make a probe out of a piece of wire about five feet long , put a wooden handle on one end of the rod and push the wire into the ground at least three feet deep in the area where you suspect a tank is buried...you may hit a solid metal object as you repeatedly plunge the metal probe into the ground...
Most likely it is not buried under your basement floor but rather beside the house outdoors where the oil delivery man could easily pull his hose from his truck to fill the tank with fuel oil.
Regards, Bill
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 27 May 2005 04:05:43 GMT, doggedyfight

Why not get a long plumbing snake and see how far it gets into the ground and what comes out stuck to the snake. A better solution will be to rent an endoscope if there is such a thing. This will allow you to see inside. Beyond that, as the other guys said, let sleeping dogs lie. If you didn't notice the stub when you bought the house you can deny knowing any details about it when you sell.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
PaPaPeng wrote:

Unfortunately, depending on the location and the circumstances that <may> not be sufficient to idemnify one on sale, depending on the localeand the local disclosure laws.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.