Should You Have An Old Oil Tank Removed?
Many homes that were previously on oil heat have switched to natural gas or electric furnaces over the years. This means that although the furnace has changed, the old oil tank may still be buried in the yard near the home. The following guide can help shed more light on the situation and help you determine the best course of action.
Why are decommissioned tanks a concern?
Old oil tanks placed underground will eventually develop leaks, typically because of rust and corrosion. Even if the tank somehow resists rusting, it will eventually develop leaks along the seams as the old welds give out. This can result in a major environmental concern, as the oil will leach out into the soil, poisoning both it and the groundwater. This can be an even more immediate threat if you grow a food garden near the old tank location or if your home is on well water. If the leaking oil gets into a municipal water source, you could even be held liable for the environmental damage and necessary cleanup.
How can you tell if you have a tank?
If you aren't the first owner of your home, you may not know if there is a tank because the previous owner may not have disclosed this information. Fortunately, there are ways to check if your home was ever on oil. The quickest way is to call your utility company. They may have records to indicate when your current heat source was put in, for example, if the home was added to natural gas for a furnace well after it was built. There are also signs you can find on your property. Look for old, disconnected oil lines coming through the foundation near the furnace. Also, walk around your yard and check for any pipes coming out of the ground – these could be vent or filler pipes. If you find these signs, you should then call in a professional to verify whether the tank has been removed or not.
What should you do if a tank is found?
Don't try to dig it up yourself! Instead, first arrange for soil testing. Several soil samples will be taken and tested for petroleum. Then, have the tank removed professionally and then test the soil a second time. The reason for two tests is to protect you. If the tank was not leaking prior to removal but it is damaged during removal, you don't want to be responsible for the oil cleanup. That would be the tank removal company's responsibility. If there was oil in the soil prior to removal, you will need to both have the tank removed and arrange for environmental cleanup yourself.
Contact a tank removal company like Capital City Tank Services Inc for more help. Often, they are able to help with the entire process, from locating the tank, to testing the soil and removing the old tank.