An old oil tank buried on your property or sitting in your basement can be easy to ignore, but this can be a mistake. If you no longer depend upon oil heat, it can be tempting to just let the old tank sit. Yet, these out of service tanks do more than take up space. Read the following guide to better understand the issues with old tanks and what you should do about them.
Old tanks corrode
When an oil tank is still in use, it is routinely inspected during your annual furnace maintenance. This catches any issues, such as corrosion or failing valves. For an abandoned tank, these inspections typically don't occur. Over time, the tanks may corrode, particularly if it is a buried tank or in an area exposed to moisture. If the tank isn't fully emptied, then the old oil will leach into the soil and contaminate it. This can then leach into ground water or garden beds. Even an emptied tank likely contains some oil sludge, which can also leach out and cause problems over time.
Testing can buy time
If you aren't ready to have the tank removed, you may have options if it hasn't yet begun to leak. Begin by testing the soil around the leak location. A local soil lab can provide you with a testing kit and instructions for collecting soil samples. Within a few days they will be able to tell you if there is oil in the soil. If not, you can leave the tank in the ground for a bit longer, but you should continue to test annually so you can catch a leak immediately when the tank does begin to give out. For tanks in basements, you can bring out a tank inspector to verify there are no leaks. They can cap off valves permanently to further minimize the chances of leaks.
You have multiple options
When it comes to fully decommissioning an old tank, there are two main options. The first is to have the tank fully removed from your property. The tank will be disconnected from any lines that feed into your home and then it and it's accompanying hardware is completely removed. If this isn't possible or is out of the budget, an old tank can also be completely drained then filled with sand or gravel. In the second instance, the contractor will provide you with documentation so you can prove the tank has been properly decommissioned. You will need this document in the event you sell the home.
For more help, contact a company that offers oil tank removal services.