Before natural gas was an option, oil was a common way to heat a home. The fuel oil was stored in large tanks next to the home, in the basement, or buried underground. Unfortunately, underground storage tanks can leak and pollute the soil and water supply. If you are considering purchasing a home with an underground storage tank, learn about them first to help you with your decision.

How Do I Know if a Home has an Underground Storage Tank?

When you visit a property, signs of a fuel storage tank may not be obvious, especially if the tank is no longer in use. Ask your real estate agent or the homeowner if there is an underground fuel storage tank on the property. When touring the home, look for signs that an underground tank exists. You may notice a vent cap in the yard or oil lines coming from the basement wall. If you discover an underground tank, ask if it has been properly decommissioned.

Underground Oil Tanks That Are Still in Use

If you are purchasing a home that still uses heating oil, you should know about the danger of a potential oil tank leak. Soil and water contamination are the biggest concern. Any pollution is the responsibility of the property owner to mitigate, and most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover this type of property damage. If your house has an underground storage tank, you can decommission your tank to prevent any environmental damage.

How to Decommission an Underground Fuel Storage Tank

Removing a Storage Tank

Decommissioning means removing an underground fuel tank from use. Removing the tank from the property is the best way to eliminate the risk of a tank causing environmental damage. However, removal requires heavy equipment and licensed contractors. Digging up the yard will damage the landscaping and is costly.

Empty and Clean the Fuel Storage Tank

Another option for decommissioning the storage tank is to empty the tank of fuel and clean it out. If you leave a tank empty, it may deteriorate and collapse, creating a depression in the yard. If the tank remains in the ground, fill it with foam or concrete to stabilize its structure.

TUFF Home Inspections offers home inspection services, including tank sweeps to help locate underground fuel storage tanks. If you’re buying a home, contact us to request an appointment.