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OIL STORAGE TANKS
ABANDONING OIL TANKS
AGE of OIL TANK
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BURIED OIL TANK ADVICE
BURIED OIL TANKS, FINDING
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
DEFINITION of Heating & Cooling Terms
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DIRECTORY of OIL TANK EXPERTS
FILTERS, OIL on HEATING EQUIPMENT
FIRE SAFETY CONTROLS
FLOATING UP OIL STORAGE or SEPTIC TANKS
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
FUEL OIL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
FUEL UNIT, HEATING OIL PUMPS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GAUGES ON HEATING EQUIPMENT
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU Cost Table
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HEATING OIL CLOUD WAX GEL POINT
HEATING OIL EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
HEATING OIL - OLD, USEABLE?
HEATING OIL PIPING TROUBLES
HEATING OIL SHELF LIFE
HEATING OIL SLUDGE
HEATING OIL TANKS
HEATING OIL TYPES & PROPERTIES
HEATING OIL USAGE RATE
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HOME BUYERS GUIDE TO OIL TANKS
NOISE CONTROL for HEATING SYSTEMS
NOISES COMING FROM WATER HEATER
ODORS & SMELLS DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL FILTERS on HEATING EQUIPMENT
OIL FUEL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
OIL FILL PIPE LEAKS
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
THERMAL TRACKING & HEAT LOSS
VIDEO GUIDES: Heating System Videos
VIDEO GUIDES - InspectAPedia.com
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to abandon use of an oil storage tank, either a buried tank or an above-ground oil storage tank. This document explains how to properly "abandon" or close an underground petroleum storage tank (UST) in place, that is, without having to excavate and remove it. This procedure is permitted if tests show that the tank has not leaked, and it can save a significant amount of the cost of oil tank removal and site repair to fill in the hole left behind. We also discuss how to cease using an above ground oil storage tank (AST). And we explain how to use-up or remove heating oil from an oil tank before abandoning it.
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ABANDONMENT REGULATIONS - Oil Tank Regulations: for Underground Oil Storage Tanks and Aboveground Tanks
Proper oil storage tank abandonment requires the use of good engineering practices, including consideration of the future condition of the tank. While the original of this article focused on commercial oil storage tanks, the concerns and steps should be examined by those abandoning residential oil tanks as well. Readers of this page should see The Oil Storage Tank Website.
Our photo (left) shows an oil storage tank that was improperly "abandoned" along a stream in Dutchess County New York. The tank, empty, floated up out of the ground when the stream flooded.
In Brief: oil storage tanks which have not leaked can be abandoned by removal or by filling in-place. Oil tank leaks must be reported to the proper authorities.
The US EPA has this succinct advice about abandoning oil tanks:
(The US EPA also provides more detailed oil storage tank abandonment guidelines for both temporary and permanent abandonment of oil tanks.)
can be involved. Buyers of buildings with buried tanks should either obtain good documentation regarding
tank abandonment (and any leak tests performed) or if no documentation is available, testing for leaks
is very strongly advised. See OIL TANK LEAKS & SMELLS
In other U.S. states and Canadian provinces similar regulations apply in almost all jurisdictions.
Due to the corrosive properties of the soil environment, any steel tank left in the ground will eventually corrode and collapse. See OIL TANK FAILURE RATES and also see OIL TANK FAILURE CAUSES. For this reason, storage tanks which are no longer to be used must be properly "abandoned" or "discontinued."
Abandon an oil tank without removal: Abandonment of an oil tank does not itself require that a tank be removed. If a tank has not leaked, thus is there is not a soil contamination issued, it can be opened, cleaned, inspected, and filled in-place. Actual removal of a buried tank involves the additional expense of excavation to remove the tank and then having to fill-in the hole.
Home inspectors in states or provinces where oil-fired heating equipment is used may often find indications that an old tank has been "abandoned" at the property either because of a switch to an alternative fuel or because an old leaking tank was supplanted by a new one. Safety and environmental concerns mean that an improperly abandoned tank may become a significant future cost to the homeowner.
Many localities across the country are allowing underground petroleum tanks to be filled with water if the tank is to be closed in-place. This is not a good engineering practice because the water will accelerate the ultimate corrosion of the tank. Subsequently, the water, now contaminated by the residues in the tank, will escape to the soil and eventually contaminate the ground water.
Note: Long Island NY requires that residential heating oil tanks be registered with the State Department of Environmental Conservation. (C)Trap DJ Friedman
In addition, the tank, now empty, is likely to cave-in along with the ground around it. The need to require that good engineering practices be used in underground storage tanks has prompted the development of much legislation across the country. Abandoned buried storage tank cave-in prevention is discussed in the next section of this article.
Note: Regulations for proper closure of underground petroleum storage tanks in New York State [and almost certainly in other oil-using states as well] have been promulgated by the NYS Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (UFPBC), the U.S. EPA, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
When the Oil Tank must be emptied: Also see NFPA 31, section 2-8 which provides "If a tank and its related piping is abandoned for whatever reason, the tank and all piping connected to it, including the outside fill and vent piping and any piping connected to the appliance, shall be emptied of all contents, cleaned, removed from the premises or property, and disposed of in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal rules and regulations."
Other New York oil storage tank regulations include the following:
Regulations addressing reporting of oil tank leaks and oil tank abandonment of oil tanks written various state and federal authorities are discussed in more detail at OIL TANK REGULATIONS - "Buried Tank and Above Ground Oil Tank Leak Reporting & Tank Abandonment Regulations"
In order to avoid cave-ins, all of these regulations require that tanks either be removed or filled in-place with a solid, inert material, using good engineering practices.
Such fill material is also required to prevent the tank from surfacing after closure, should the ground water table rise, and to completely seal the tank and associated piping from future use as a tank system.
Acceptable solid, inert materials for closing a tank include sand, concrete slurry, and even some foams. When the tank eventually corrodes and collapses, this solid material inside the tank will keep the ground from caving in.
The UFPBC also requires that underground petroleum tanks to be closed in-place shall be made safe by removing flammable or combustible liquids from the tank and connecting lines; disconnecting the suction inlet, gauge and vent lines; and capping the remaining piping.
All storage tanks removed from their location must also have flammable or combustible liquids removed, have the same lines disconnected; have sections of connecting lines not to be used further removed, and have inlets, outlets, and any leaks capped or plugged. The basic procedures for meeting these requirements are defined in the State and federal regulatory programs.
In addition to requiring the same basic procedures as the State regulations, the federal UST regulations require that a site assessment be performed by the owner/operator when a tank is closed. (Heating oil tanks, and farm and residential tanks storing less than 1,100 gallons of motor fuel are exempt from these regulations.)
See INDOOR OIL TANK ABANDONMENT for some suggestions for using up heating oil or removing it from an oil tank to be abandoned.
For a detailed description of the steps required for proper tank abandonment or for more information on site assessments and permanent tank closure, contact your state department of environmental conservation. In New York inspectors can contact the author or the Bulk-Storage help-line 800-242-3451.
Oil to Gas Heat Conversion Advice - using up heating oil fuel
If you are going to convert to gas or another heating source but you first want to use up the heating oil in your oil storage tank, and provided that your oil fired heating equipment (oil fired boiler, furnace, or water heater) is good operating condition, you can choose to simply let the old, to-be-abandoned oil fired equipment keep running until you run out of oil ... almost. There are a few problems to watch out for:
If your oil tank piping lines come off of the top of the oil tank and are properly installed the lines won't pick up the sludge, water, and last few inches of oil in the tank, so you'll probably be fine just running your oil fired equipment until you run out of oil.
If your oil tank piping lines come off of the bottom of the oil tank and you run it out there is the risk of pulling sludge and crud into the oil filter, oil burner, and losing heat if those components clog. If the oil burner shuts off in that manner, it'll indeed be shut off firmly until it's repaired, so don't try this if you're still depending on the oil heat to keep working (say to avoid freezing).
Your gas heat or other new source of heating should be hooked up and ready to run. Thus you can run the oil heat until it runs out or fails on clogging without risking leaving the building with no heat source - risking frozen pipes, water damage, mold contamination, etc.
The heating service technicians will not want to remove old oil-fired heating equipment until it is completely cold. That's because they don't want to deal with hot water, burns, etc.
The old oil tank may still need to be pumped out if there's oil remaining in it - lest you get a messy leak and spill later.
Chimney safety warning on heating fuel conversion from oil to gas
If you are converting fuel from oil to gas and intend to continue to use the same chimney that vented your oil fired heating equipment be sure to have the chimney cleaned and inspected for safety. The draft characteristics of these fuels differ, so chimney repairs or changes could be needed for safety.
Be SURE that the tank filler and vent are totally removed lest you get an un-wanted oil delivery. Don't laugh, it happens.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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Questions & answers or comments about abandoning oil storage tanks, converting to gas fuel, etc.
Question: who removes the old oil fill and vent piping on an oil-to-gas conversion?
When switching from oil heat to gas heat, who is responsible for removing the tank filler and vent? The oil company or the gas company? Or do I have to hire a additional contractor? I've heard stories about unwanted oil deliveries. They are heart breaking. - Laura
Reply: nobody wants to do the whole job - the "Peanut Butter theory of construction: just skim the cream of profit"
Laura just removing the oil tank filler and vent are simple plumbing disconnections that can be performed by a plumber or general contractor. I agree that removing the abandoned filler is critical.
In my case their work was very disappointing: During installation we had to do our own framing and our own sealing of the new chimney base at the roof line. And the new chimney installation work was of poor quality: dented metal chimney sections, floppy inadequate support brackets that left the chimney wobbling side to side, a crushed leaky chimney cap, damaged roof drip edge, even a small puncture in the rubber roof where the workers dropped something.
And the chimney installation job was incomplete: the contractor left all of the old chimney and parts for us to remove separately at our own expense.The company "skimmed the cream" of profit from the job , got in and out fast, and didn't care about the success of the whole project. When I complained, my long time but disappointing friend Bill, the owner said "Dan we've always done it that way, in thousands of jobs. That's just the way we do it."
It appeared that the company felt we were just being picky. And indeed their contract spelled out quite clearly that they would not remove old components nor perform any framing. But what is often not made clear to the customer is that those tasks are absolutely necessary and that additional trouble and expense will be involved in their completion.
You should also notify your oil company both by telephone and in writing that the oil tank has been removed and that they should remove you from automatic oil delivery immediately.
Question: oil tank abandoned long ago, missing paperwork: how do I obtain documentation & supporting testing
I have someone interested in buying my home. The oil tank on the property was abandoned properly years ago and signed off by the EPA…but this was done before records were kept on computers…the buyers just want verification that the tank was abandoned, not a soil test. I’m wondering how much this will cost me? And how this is done?
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