If you have an oil furnace then you have an oil tank to supply a reserve of oil to your system.For your system to operate at its best your storage tank should be inspected yearly. In this How To we will go over the basic inspection process. The location of your tank and what you can do to better that situation. Your options for replacement and a few other options you might have for heating your home.
Oil Storage Tank Types, Sizes And Locations
The preferential location for a storage is indoors and near your Oil Heater. In the best of situations you may find that your oil storage tank is also separated from your oil heater by a block wall. This is to reduce the possibility of overall fire hazard. Normally the tank should be placed at least 10 feet from the furnace even if not protected by a block wall.
Other optional locations especially for people without basements is to locate the oil storage tank above ground but outside the home. The final location that your oil storage tank may be found is underground in proximity to your home.
There are three basic types of storage tanks. The first being the standard single wall steel tank found in most homes. Second would be a double wall steel tank that may be found in all three common locations and finally are plastic tanks that are often used to replace steel underground tanks.
The drawback of double wall steel tanks would be the reduced capacity for the size of the tank however you normally only lose about 10% of the volume of the tank.
The drawback of any underground storage option is the possibility of leaks and the inability to easily service the tank or supply lines. Leaks can be extremely expensive depending on the saturation of the soil around the tank.
Oil Tanks can come in a variety of sizes but the most common size is about 275 gallons. Larger and older homes may have tanks from 500 to 1000 gallons in size. Larger tanks are often found underground.
Inspecting Your Steel Oil Storage Tank
Once a year normally when you are having your oil furnace serviced you want to make sure that you inspect your Oil Tank if it is easily accessible. You should look for dents, rust, Damage to Legs or supports, You should check to see that the fill height indicator works correctly and that is a good thing to do after every fill up.
If the tank is on the exterior of your home it should be protected from the elements. I might suggest that you build an exterior room for your oil storage tank but at the minimum you want to have a roof over it.
All storage tanks should have a Whistle Alert System that should set off a sound to the delivery person when the tank is filled you want to check this at delivery time.
Inspect the tank and lines for leaking there should not be residue at any fittings or pooling of furnace oil. Some lines are protected in conduit so you should inspect that system equally as close for leaks.
Replacement Of Your Oil Heater Storage Tank
Normally you should not replace your oil storage tank unless you are having problems with it. Even when you are installing a new oil heater the filters in the line will protect your new heater from any contaminants that might be due to light buildups in the tank. It is not mandatory and not recommended.
Oil Tanks that are in the ground do have a life expectancy and you must know when the tank was installed to be able to say when it should be serviced. If the previous owner has had regular maintenance from the same company for the life of the home which is not out of the ordenary then they will know when the tank was installed or last replaced. They will also be able to warn you about replacement situations. Underground tanks are a special situation that you should strongly consider removing from your home and not replacing. Exterior tanks would be a better option for most people if they can be protected.
If you are on oil heat right now there are some companies that will convert your system to gas and not charge you for the removal of even underground tanks. This can be a big expense if you are considering maintenance over time and may eventually move to gas heat. Gas also has its drawbacks especially if you are considering propane above ground tanks vs underground natural gas lines.
Inspection of your tank is a very easy thing to do and normally you won’t find that you need to replace it in the life of the home if it is in your basement and not damaged by moisture or physical force.
Oil Heat is a great way to heat your home I have enjoyed oil heat for most of my life and the only problems I ever experienced were winter deliveries during storms of which we never ran out of oil and a problem with a chimney that deteriorated over 40 years of use which had to be repaired with a stainless steel liner. Compared to other forms of heating its really a good way to heat your home but it can be expensive if there are spikes in oil prices. For that reason and in any home you should consider a backup heating option such as a fireplace or wood stove which might be able to offset your costs depending on the price of wood or the availability of free wood on your land.