I currently have a 400 gallon underground oil tank for heating my house...
the tank is 11 years old and i moved here last here.. I was thinking about
getting an above the ground oil tank, because i worry that someday it could
spring a leak and would be an enviromental disaster...since everyone up here
was wondering what your opinions are on an above the ground oil tank instead
of the underground one.. I just talked to my oil company over the phone and
they said i would have to substitute kerosene for the oil during the winter
time if i had an above-ground oil tank since the temperature here in
north-east PA gets down to around -10 faurunheit at times.. i never know
this before.. and kerosene costs more money too..
any input would be appreciated..
I live in Northern New Jersey, so I have about the same climate
you do. My underground oil tank was installed circa 1955 when the
house was built. I have been worried about it since we moved
here in 1988. Last fall I contracted with my oil company to
install a new surface tank and remove the old underground tank.
The new tank was installed and filled in November 2003. We are
still dickering about removing the old tank because it is too
close to the neighbor's house to use the backhoe they usually use
to excavate the dirt and pull the old tank.
The trick that makes our surface tank work in cold weather is an
electric heating tape wrapped around the output valve. The
installers did not get it right the first time and the water
which condensed inside the tank while it was still empty froze
and blocked the oil flow. Not fun to wait for the service tech
to put in the heater tape with snow on the ground.
We removed the in ground tank and replaced it with an above ground.
The new above ground was in the basment so I had no problem with cold
However, we got a nice state tax break (in NY) for removing the old
tank from the ground. Check out your state to see if that is true
Thanks for that info. I am in NY and my in-ground steel tank is going on
20 years now. I heard the average life span of a steel tank is 10 - 15
years. I also heard that no more in-ground tanks will be allowed in NYS.
Is the only alternative to an in-ground tank a basement tank (provided
you have a basement)?
wow, that sounds pretty short of a lifespan for a steel tank. (10 to 15
years).. i dont even know what kind of oil tank i have in the ground...i
bought the house last year......anyone know how to figure this info out?
Sounds like something a tank-replacement salesman would say. IOW - it's a lie.
I switched to gas a couple of years ago, but my oil tank was removed after
being buried for 26 years and it looked brand new.
I believe you CAN bury a new fiberglass tank. And if you're going that route, I
would recommend you get a tank that can store 1200 gallons or more. Suffer that
little difference in price today, and buy your home heating oil for 1.25 a
gallon at the peak of summer wile the rest of the fools with 270 gallon tanks
fill up in the dead of winter for 2.75 a gallon.
There used to be an oil tank in the ground here that was abandoned
because of leaking and was only 8 years old at the time. Some others
nearby lasted over 20 years. Knowing the hassle and expense they have
caused for removal and decontamination, I would never put one
underground even if it were allowed and would never buy a house with
one in the ground.
We have some customers that have ones that are over 50 years old. Out of all
of the (major) problems we have had with tank leaks, only one was an
underground tank. If someone asks to have one removed, we charge $400. That
includes removal, disposal, and labor. There are still a lot of people
having them put in the ground. I think it's because people don't want an
ugly tank sitting beside their house. I usually suggest that they put some
lattice work around it and plant bushes.
It is totally legal to put them in the ground (for residential
applications), but I am starting to lean towards advising NOT to do it just
because of the hassles when selling the house. I've talked to a lot of the
local real estate companies in my area and they are starting to tell
prospective buyers that having an in-ground tank is a liability.
One of our friends just got a non-renew letter from allstate for his house
insurance after 20 years as a customer becaue of his in ground oil tank. He
has been given a year to remove the oil tank or find new insurance. No, he
has no evidence of a leak.
You can get condensation even with oil in the tank. As the tank gets
lower, air enters through the vent and moisture can condense on the
metal walls. Being heavier than oil it goes to the bottom. The other
side effect is rust.
Fortunately it is easy to cure. Each fall you should add "tank guard"
or a similar product. It is just alcohol which will mix with the
water and prevent rust.
You can use an outside tank but the oil must be treated with an anti
gelling product. What I use is Power Service which is available at
Wal-Mart . If not available there any truck supply house has any
number of products to regarding fuel gelling.
What happens in cold weather is that the wax in the fuel falls out of
suspension and then clogs the fuel filters. You must lower the "pour
point" of the fuel to prevent this.
I work for a construction company that builds gas stations as well as
sells oil tanks. Have seen your dilemma before. I am going to respond
to some of your questions listed below:
On Mon, 9 Aug 2004 13:22:45 -0400, "mike"
If your tank is eleven years old, and if you could be inside the tank,
empty...looking at the tank walls...you might see thousands of
pinholes representing corrosion eating through the walls from the
outside. Or, if the soil in your property is not particularly "hot"
causing rapid corrosion, your tank may be as good as it was when it
I was thinking about
Well now, no disrespect for your 400-gallon tank but she ain't the
Exxon Valdez! Just how much environmental contamination do you think
she is capable of producing?
I personally think aboveground tanks make your property look like an
oil refinery operation or an industrial plant...very unattractive.
If I were you Mike, I would continue using your underground tank. I
would also act responsibly by monitoring the contents of the tank for
leakage. What I mean by that is, in the off season when you are not
using fuel, go out there and drop your stick in the tank once a month
or so and see if the level is dropping. If you have a leak it will be
very obvious. If you notice it is leaking, have your oil supplier come
and pump it completely dry. Then just let it sit there! It ain't
hurtin nuthin just sittin there...empty! It is not polluting anything
because there is no fuel oil in there to leak out.
Oh yeah, about those pesky real estate people...they absolutely freak
out if they walk around your house and see those little sections of
two inch galvanized pipe sticking out of the ground behind your
bushes. (these represent your filler pipe and vent pipe screwed into
the top of your tank) Any real estate person worth their salt can walk
around your house and spot an oil tank buried under these little
pipes. If you go down to Home Depot and get you an 18" Ridgid Pipe
Wrench and connect it to those damnable pieces of pipe sticking up out
of your yard...you can wrench them right out of the ground! No point
in getting your real estate agent all upset about an underground tank.
There are probably a couple of 3/8" supply/return tubes coming up off
the top of your tank and fishing through the wall going to your
heater. If your real estate agent is a super eager beaver and he
starts crawling around under your house...better clip those copper
tubes off too! Of course you will be using a different type of heating
system by the time you are not using your underground tank anymore.
That's my opinion Mike!
If it has not floated out in ten years it probably won't Edwin! I have
seen them float out before though. A big tank full of gasoline will
float right out of the ground during a heavy rainstorm if there is not
enough overburden (backfill sand or stone) holding it down. Many
people even pour huge concrete deadman anchors in the bottom of the
tank hole and strap the tank down before covering it up with sand or
stone. Gasoline make a tank float out of the ground like a fishing
The problem isn't one tank, it's a collection of all the tanks out there
that folks have forgotten about or ignored. I don't know about where you
are, but around here, new underground tanks are no longer steel - only
plastic or composite are used.
I was consulting for a major oil company a while back. Based on an analysis
of their known tank inventory and their site count, I estimated that there
were over two thousand (!) tanks that were "lost" - no one knew exactly
where they were located or what condition they were in. Some might have been
replaced with composite and not documented, others removed etc. Some might
be sitting there untested and leaking. These aren't 400 gallon tanks, of
course, but 20,000 - 50,000 liter. It would be nice to believe that the
local users are testing them regularly and checking for leaks, but...
Collectively, the tanks in N.A. leak an Exxon Valdez a month, IIRC. Remember
that next time you drink ground water.
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