Home Heating Oil Tank Maintenance
Modern Heating Oil Tanks are engineered to be low maintenance products. However, contrary perhaps to popular belief, they are not fit and forget products, nor are they maintenance free.
Annual Service and Inspection
Heating Oil Tanks must be installed, inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person. As a minimum, your tank should be serviced and inspected annually. Many boiler engineers are qualified to inspect and maintain your storage tank too. So why not arrange to have your tank inspected and serviced at the same time as your boiler? Failure to adhere to manufacturer’s service and maintenance instructions, will frequently void any warranty supplied with your tank.
Beyond annual, scheduled maintenance, there are things you can do on an ongoing basis to help maintain your tank and get the most from your oil-fired central heating installation:
Remove debris that may accumulate around the tank. As well as being unsightly, it’s a potential fire hazard. Decomposing garden waste can also corrode your oil supply line and tank fittings, which can result in an environmental pollution incident;
Do not allow plants to grow any closer than 600mm (2’) from your tank. At all times, you should ensure there is sufficient space for someone to walk around your tank and inspect it;
On a Single Skin Tank, visually check the vent to ensure it is clear and free from obstruction, to reduce the risk of the tank becoming over-pressurised during refuelling;
Check weekly for damage, corrosion, cracks, dark patches of soil, an unusual smell or in damp weather, a rainbow sheen. Any of these factors may indicate a leak and should be reported to a storage tank technician for evaluation without delay;
Heating Oil and water don’t mix… so periodically check that all lids, caps, vents and manholes are correctly affixed to the tank to reduce the risk of water ingress. If required, replacement caps and lids are affordable, readily available and suitable for DIY installation;
Make sure the tank is fitted with an Oil Care label or similar guidance, detailing what to do in the event of a spill. Oil Care labels are supplied as standard with almost every new tank in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. They are also supplied with many tanks in the Republic of Ireland too. Replacement labels can be obtained from your local environmental authority if required;
Ensure a label is affixed to the tank describing the contents stored inside. This will often be provided by your fuel distributor;
As well as checking your tank regularly, also check the oil supply line and components for any sign of damage, leaks or failure.
As modern Heating Oil Tanks can provide many years of dependable service – it’s worth making the effort to show your tank some TLC. Further guidance can be found on the Oil Care Campaign website.
If you install and maintain your tank correctly, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to contend with a Heating Oil spill. However, it’s still worth checking your home insurance policy, to make sure it provides adequate cover in the event of a spill. Even a small spill can cost many thousands to clean up. And you may be forced to contend with legal expenses, a fine and a victim surcharge too.
Whilst some insurance policies do include cover as standard, others are written around homes with mains heating i.e. natural gas and electric. If Heating Oil is not specifically included within the policy document, contact your insurance company or broker to ensure you’re adequately protected.
Life Expired Tanks
There is no universal agreement over when exactly a Heating Oil Tank should be replaced. The operating lifespan of any tank will be dependent upon a number of installation and site-specific factors. However, as a general rule we recommend giving serious consideration to replacing any:
Single Skin Tank which is more than 10 years old;
Bunded or Double-Skinned tank which is more than 20 years old;
Tank which displays signs of cracking, excessive corrosion or crazing.
If you’re unsure exactly how old your tank is, most models are supplied with a product reference code or date of manufacture. This can often be found close to the fill area and typically consists of a long numeric or alpha-numeric sequence. Quote these details to the manufacturer and they should be able to tell you when your tank was manufactured. You'll find their contact details on the product description label.
If you have any concerns, you should contact a competent, professional, storage tank technician, who will be able to advise. Always choose a technician who is independently trained and accredited such as an Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) Registered Technician. Click here to find your local OFTEC Registered Technician.
You’re also very welcome to contact us. We don’t install, inspect or maintain tanks, but we can provide general guidance and advice. Call us in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man on 1789 632 151 or 01 5268 642 from the Republic of Ireland. Alternatively, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org We’re open weekdays from 9am to 5pm – excluding public holidays.