Leaky Fuel Oil Tanks Are a Health and Environmental Hazard

Your heat and air conditioning system comes with a number of ongoing costs: fuel bills, repair, maintenance and so on. But for homeowners who heat their homes using oil, there's an extra cost that many may not be aware of – the oil tank could spring a leak and allow the fuel to leach into the ground around your home. Read on to learn more about this hazard and what you can do to prevent it.

Corroding Metal Over Time

Oil is already at a disadvantage to natural gas when it comes to winter heating fuel. Recent low oil prices notwithstanding, it still costs significantly more to heat a home with oil than gas in most parts of the country. Oil does fill a niche, however, in areas that aren't hooked up to a natural gas line. Unfortunately, though, for those who rely on the sticky liquid for their winter heat, the oil storage tank can pose a health and environmental hazard for unaware homeowners.

The problem is that oil tanks tend to corrode over time, eventually springing leaks. That's annoying enough for above-ground tanks, but at least homeowners have a chance to spot the problem before too much damage occurs. More dangerous are tanks that are stored underground, which can leak fuel for years before anyone notices. Not only does that drive up your winter heating bill, but it also creates a hazard around your home.

Contamination of Your Soil and Water

When fuel oil gets into the ground, it can contaminate the soil in your yard as well as the groundwater. It can even back up into the basement, creating odors inside your home. The oil is toxic and can harm your health with acute or prolonged exposure. Once you have a leak, you need to have licensed professionals come to clean up the area, which could take months and cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

It's better, then, to be proactive and try to stop the oil from getting into the ground in the first place. To prevent leakage, keep an eye on the fuel levels in your tank. If it drains faster than usual, you may be losing oil to the ground. Even slow leaks can create problems, so a better solution is to have someone inspect your tank and verify that it is in sound condition, particularly if it is more than a decade old. In many circumstances, it's best to just have an underground tank removed outright and replaced with an above-ground model.

Stop Oil Problems Before they Start

If you need inspection or repair on your fuel oil tank or have other heat and air conditioning needs, contact an expert HVAC technician today.