Oil Tanks: Why They Fail and What You Need to Know

home-heating-oil-tankIf you are a Massachusetts homeowner who uses heating oil to warm your home, there are things you need to know about responsible oil tank ownership and maintenance. Homeowners should do regular checks to ensure that there are no obvious problems with their heating oil tank, however your best bet is in hiring a professional heating oil service provider to check your system as part of an overall preventative maintenance program.

Why Heating Oil Tanks Fail
There are a number of reasons and issues that could cause your heating oil tank to fail. However, there are four primary reasons that affect Massachusetts homeowners the most. Those four reasons include: sludge, the thickness of the steel, condensation of water and organic materials. Among these, water condensation is seen more frequently than the others, especially in New England.

When you consider the causes, with the exception of the thickness of the steel, which is attributed to the design of the heating oil tank itself, everything else can be addressed over time to prevent failure and increase the life of the tank through a preventative maintenance program. Regular inspections of your heating oil tank and proper maintenance from an experienced, local provider can help to avoid costly repairs or having to completely replace a heating oil tank due to corrosion or failure.

The Benefits of a Preventative Maintenance Program
When you choose a home heating oil provider and maintenance service, it is important to select one that uses the latest equipment, has experience working on heating oil tanks in your area, has a team of regularly trained technicians and uses advanced diagnostics to help fine-tune your equipment for the best possible results. Some of the benefits associated with scheduling inspections and preventative maintenance services include:

  • Energy Efficiency – A well-run system will work more efficiently to provide heat to your home, while reducing energy consumption and lowering your monthly bill.
  • Reliable Service – Equipment that has been properly maintained is more likely to be “trouble free” year round, requiring less service, repairs and maintenance overall.
  • Early Detection – Regular inspections and a preventative maintenance program will help find small problems before they become big, costly repairs or replacements in the future.
  • Lower Emissions – The cleaner and more well-maintained your heating oil tank is, the cleaner and safer your overall energy consumption and use will be both for your family and the local community.

Why are Heating Oil Tanks a Concern?
Through the years, heating oil tanks have been stored in underground storage tanks made from steel. While steel is one of the more durable and long-lasting materials available, it can still corrode, rust and wear out over time. When corrosion creates tiny holes and pits inside the shell of the tank, heating oil has the potential to leach out into the surrounding earth and make its way into the local community environment.

Seams within the tank that have been welded are also at risk of corrosion and failure, so the entire tank should be inspected and checked on regularly. There are state and federal requirements with regard to environmental safety for Massachusetts homeowners, which have led to changes in standard preventative maintenance programs for heating oil tanks and new technology and designs have been created to prevent leaking underground.

However, the number one concern with regard to underground heating oil tanks is contamination of the local environment. Heating oil leaks can cause contamination in the soil surrounding the tank and can spread to other areas in the local environment through groundwater contamination. In this case, most Massachusetts homeowners would need to replace a heating oil tank in order to comply with environmental regulations.

Signs You Might Have to Replace a Heating Oil Tank
If you aren’t sure how old your heating oil tank is or whether or not there is cause to be concerned, there are some signs that you can look for that can be indicative of a failing oil tank.

#1 – Damage to Pipes
If you have experienced damage to the pipes that come from your heating oil tank, you might have a leaking oil tank. Piping connections that are faulty can actually cause a heating oil tank to leak.

#2 – Type of Soil
If you live in an area where there is corrosive soil, an underground heating oil tank has a higher chance of leaking. If the tank itself was damaged during installation, such as hitting a rock or getting gouged by equipment, chances for leaks are also fairly high.

#3 – Water Condensation
Again, the most likely cause of a failed heating oil tank is water condensation. When water gets in the tank it can cause rusting and corrosion from the inside out.

#4 – Oil Spills
If your heating oil delivery service has ever spilled oil at the ground surface around the tank or the tank filler and didn’t clean or remove the oil around the area, it could cause corrosion on the tank, which could lead to leaks.

Preventative Maintenance Program in Massachusetts
If you are a Massachusetts homeowner, it is highly recommended that you get a professional inspection of your heating oil tank done every year. An inspection will assure that your tank is in serviceable condition and is free from leaks or corrosion. If any problems are observed during your inspection, or if you have plans to relocate the tank or upgrade to a newer model, it is important to contact a reputable service provider who can help you to upgrade or replace a heating oil tank according to state safety regulations.

Columbus Energies offers a home heating oil delivery program at very competitive rates, giving customers reliable, quality service since 1960. Columbus offers repairs, services, system upgrades, new installations and of course, home delivery. With technicians on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergencies, customers of Columbus Energies never have to worry about going without warm, safe heat. Call today for a no obligation estimate and for more information about all of the discounts, programs and preventative maintenance program services available to customers of Columbus Energies.