Buying a Home with an Oil Tank?

If you are buying a home with an oil tank, you must be aware of the potential risks your may be inheriting. The following should be checked for: 

  • Existing oil contamination – If an oil tank is present it is likely that oil has been stored on that property since construction. Throughout that time, there may have been a number of reasons why oil could have been lost to the ground, including a previously damaged tank, spills during filling, leaking fittings etc. If you buy the property with contaminated land it is also possible that you may inherit the remediation costs. On average it costs £30,000 to undertake oil spill remedial works. If a neighbour, your property or the environment has been impacted, the bill could exceed £100,000. When inspecting the tank look for staining of concrete or impacted lawns, trees or hedgerow. 
  • Is it single skin or bunded? – Bunded tanks have a secondary containment system which means that if the inner tank leaks, the outer shell is able to contain the oil, preventing it being lost to the ground. Building regulation dictate that the majority of properties must upgrade to a bunded tank if they are changing their current tank. This cost of this may be around £1000 and the base may need amended, so this should be considered when you are calculating what improvements are needed at the property. 
  • Check the shell of the oil storage tank – It is common for plastic and metal oil tanks to stress over time which can cause them to bulge or crack. It is highly possible that you could be purchasing a tank which already has a crack in it, but the tank has not been filled with enough oil to expose it. If it looks like it has lost its original shape or is highly discoloured, this could also pose a risk of failure. 
  • Check the fittings of the Oil Tank – Leaks are common at the fittings and therefore should be visually inspected. Ensure there is an isolation valve present, this is needed to switch off the oil supply in an emergency. This could prevent serious oil loss. 
  • Inspect the base – Ensure first of all that the tank is on a base, and that the base is suitable to support the weight of the tank. If it is a metal tank it, it should be elevated on piers so the underneath of the tank can be inspected and maintained. 
  • Check for any openings in the tank – If there are any openings in the tank it is highly likely that water and sludge could build up in your tank. If this enters the oil line it will likely damage the oil boiler. 
  • Check how close the boiler is – The flue of the boiler should be at least 1.8m from the tank to prevent a fire risk!
  • Check how much oil is in the tank – It is possible that there could be a loss of oil between you viewing and purchasing the property, especially if it is not occupied. If you are aware of the amount of oil that was in the tank before, it can alert you to a potential issue!

Put simply, the heating oil storage poses one of the most serious risks to your property. If you buy a property with a poor heating system, there may be significant upgrade costs, or worse, you could inherit contaminated land. 

SSS Alleviate have created the unique service of Oil Heating Risk Surveys which gives you extremely detailed information on the risks of buying a property supplied by Oil Heating. We will also provide recommendations on how to lower these risks protecting your property and your family!