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How can you tell if your oil tank leaks, and what do you do about it?

Oil tank leaks are a big concern for homeowners with underground heating oil tanks. Ideally, leaks should be addressed early to minimize damage to people, property and environment. But how can you tell if you have a leak?

Here is a summary of clues to look for that might indicate a leak, and steps you can take if you suspect a leak.


There is no way to be sure that your tank is sound without digging it up, but knowing the age of your tank can help you make an educated decision. Because many underground oil tanks are made of bare steel, they are vulnerable to corrosion. If your tank is over 10-15 years old, it is more likely to have developed the small pinholes which are the beginning of oil tank leaks. 


Another sign that your tank may be worth a look are

increased home heating costs. Be sure there aren't any other variables in play (have you been using more heat, or is your home less heat efficient?) before blaming this on your tank. And even then, be aware that water condensation and the oil level within the tank can affect how much oil you use.


Other signs can be more convincing but are, unfortunately, probably indications that your leak is large or has been occurring for a while. These signs include an oil sheen on groundwater or in water samples from your sump pit (if you have one); stained spots or oil smells on your property; oil smells in your home; and dead vegetation on your property near or above the oil tank.


Once you've determined that you should check for oil tank leaks, the only way to be sure is to have your tank and soil professionally tested. A professional will take soil samples from around and below the tank, and check the tank and lines for structural integrity.


Be prepared to remove or replace the tank if a leak is detected, and to clean up any contamination. Look for, or ask about, a "pollution exclusion" in your homeowner's insurance to find out if remediation is covered. If it's determined by your professional that the water table has been contaminated, it becomes more likely that your homeowner's insurance will help with the costs.


If you contact a professional tank removal/replacement company to test your tank for leaks, then they can easily manage any additional services you need if a leak is found. For more details about how we handle oil tank leaks, read our page on the topic. For help with your oil tank or any other questions about the process, please contact us.

POSTED BY ats_admin ON December 13th, 2012

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