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Buried oil tank


Darren
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A client had a question about an underground oil tank (yes, I strongly advised her to have it removed).

The house is occupied by tenants who have not used the oil fired boiler for an unknown period (every question I asked the tenant, she refused to answer) but instead have portable electric heaters. During my inspection, the boiler could not be fired for lack of oil.

Since the tank is empty, is it possible condensation is present and it could accelerate the deterioration of the tank?

The tank was tested in October, but now she's asking if it should be re-tested.

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You don't know what is going on with an underground fuel tank. Could be leaking, could be empty but deteriorating, could be nearly empty but the fuel line is clogged with sludge, etc. I would recommend consulting an HVAC or fuel oil company to check it out. Installing a new metal or fiberglass tank inside the basement and decommissioning or removing the buried tank would be my recommendation.

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I have two thoughts on that, The tank hasn't changed that much since October. What did the inspection report say? In my area, tanks have not been buried since the early 70"s, so it is a given, they are all bad when we find them here.

My other thought is this. Your client the landlord could lose the whole place to a fire if something isn't done about the heating situation.

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. . . Since the tank is empty, is it possible condensation is present and it could accelerate the deterioration of the tank?

They all have some condensation whether or not they contain oil. (Unless they're filled up to the tippy top with oil, I suppose.) In my area, the condensation that collects at the bottom of the tank often causes failure. Their oil company can use a stick with indicating paste on the end to determine how much water is sitting at the bottom of the tank.

The tank was tested in October, but now she's asking if it should be re-tested.

It's up to her. The tank could have failed seconds after the test.

Around here, you used to be able to get oil tank insurance from the Oil Heat Commission. I don't know if it's still available or if there's something similar in your area.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I've never heard of "oil tank insurance".

Do you know what it covers/covered Jim?

It covers the cost of testing, cleanup, and replacement of the tank. All oil dealers in Oregon offer it. I don't know if the price is fixed, but it seems to be about $140/yr and they'll cover up to $4,000 in costs. It's funded by our Department of Environmental Quality and a 3% surcharge on oil sales in the state.

In order to qualify, you have to be on an autofill program and have no evidence of leaks for a year.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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The tank was tested and passed by a reputable company (ATS). Most dealers offer insurance for leakage (the inspection company has a paragraph about enrolling in the insurance program offered by 'your local fuel oil dealer").

The other potential problem that we discussed and I think got her seriously thinking is the 'mature' trees very close to the tank (and the house).

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I've never heard of "oil tank insurance".

Do you know what it covers/covered Jim?

It covers the cost of testing, cleanup, and replacement of the tank. All oil dealers in Oregon offer it. I don't know if the price is fixed, but it seems to be about $140/yr and they'll cover up to $4,000 in costs. It's funded by our Department of Environmental Quality and a 3% surcharge on oil sales in the state.

In order to qualify, you have to be on an autofill program and have no evidence of leaks for a year.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Hi,

They have the same thing here. It's a state-run program and owners pay into it along with their oil bill. It used to be really cheap but about 6 - 7 years ago the state stopped paying the lion's share of the premiums. I don't know what it costs now.

Underground tanks are the norm here. I think I've seen a grand total of 4 above-ground tanks at jobs over nearly 15 years here.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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