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Homes built between the 1930s all the way until the 1980s did not have the luxury of underground piped gas for heating purposes. Instead, they relied on underground oil tanks that used fuel oil.
These oil tanks, thanks to their ungainly size and looks, were often installed below ground level. However, there are several risks associated with having one of these tanks at home now. This is why removing the tank altogether may be better for the health of the home and its inhabitants. Here’s all you need to know about the below-ground oil tank removal process, costs, and more.
Why oil tanks are a risk
- If the tank gets ruptured, it will contaminate the soil around your home as well as the water supply. A slow tank leak can impact groundwater, making it unusable for irrigation purposes. Tank remediation and soil remediation could cost you as much as $10,000. If the leak has contaminated a large tract of land, costs could go all the way up to $100,000 or more.
- The presence of these tanks will make selling your home difficult, especially since a lot of banks do not offer mortgages on homes with oil tanks. This is why most homeowners remove them before listing their homes for sale.
- Regular homeowner’s insurance is unlikely to cover damage to oil tanks. You will most likely be required to invest in a separate oil tank insurance policy to cover those risks.
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Does your home have an oil tank?
If you are unsure whether your home has an oil tank or not, there are some telltale signs you can look for.
- For example, underground oil tanks are never more than ten feet away from the home’s foundation. Look for pipes sticking out of the ground to help you locate them. One of these lines is likely to be the fill pipe used to fill the tank, while the other will be a vent pipe.
- Sometimes, the pipes are removed, but the tank still remains underneath. To locate these tanks, professional tank removal services conduct what is called a tank sweep using a professional metal detector with ground-penetrating radar. Keep in mind, heavy metal detectors won’t really be very effective in this situation.
- Another sign that indicates that there may be an underground tank installed in the vicinity is if you notice capped-off copper pipes in your basement that run outside the home.
Oil tank removal process
Here’s a quick look at the process of removing an underground heating oil tank.
- Removing an underground oil tank is not a DIY job and a tank removal company ought to be hired. There are multiple reasons for this. For one, an inexperienced person handling the job could lead to causing a leak and increase the risk of oil contamination.
- Keep in mind also that different states have different state laws with regards to tank removal. So be sure to check what your state requires you to adhere to.
- There are special permits that need to be obtained before you can remove an oil tank. This is yet another reason why a trained professional from a heating oil company with the right tools and knowledge, or at the very least, an experienced handyman ought to handle the removal.
- The first thing the tank removal experts will do is locate where the power and utility lines are laid. This is done to ensure that none of those are either damaged or contaminated by mixing them up with oil lines.
- The next step of the process is to drain out any remaining oil from the tank. An explosion-proof pump is used to do this. Most contractors will either pay you for this oil or reduce the value of it from your final tab.
- Once the excess oil has been removed, the tank is thoroughly cleaned of any remaining sludge, rust, and other waste. A metal cutting blade is used to cut the tank open to facilitate easy cleaning using a tank brush and by hand. The slide is removed in sealed buckets to be recycled and reused for industrial purposes.
- The rest of the tank is then removed and taken to a government-approved hazardous waste treatment site, where it will undergo further cleaning before being recycled or sold for scrap.
- The cost of removing an underground oil tank is around $2,500 on average. Depending on the amount of excavation and work needed to remove the tank, rates begin from around $1,000. Above-ground oil tanks are far cheaper to remove.