Heating oil tanks are excellent pieces of equipment. They are durable, sturdy and will provide reliable storage for decades. But as with any home appliance or piece of equipment, older tanks can have issues.
When it comes to underground tanks, it’s difficult for home inspectors to conduct a visual inspection given the location of the tank. However, it is always a good idea to recommend that a buyer conduct a tank test or secure proof of a recent tank test to ensure it is working properly.
As it relates to aboveground tanks, here are some items to be aware of as you inspect the integrity of a tank in the backyard or in a basement:
- Make sure the fill cap and vent cap are secured, and check that they are not clogged or restricted by ice, snow, insect nests or any other material.
- Look for leakage from tank fittings, filters, piping or the tank gauge. Also look for weeping (moisture) at tank seams.
- Inspect for signs of oil spills around the tank, fill pipe or vent lines.
- Check the condition of the tank legs. The tank belly should not be touching the ground.
- Look for signs of corrosion. An aboveground tank can be painted to prevent external corrosion. It also improves the appearance of the tank, which is especially beneficial for outdoor tanks.
And if you are stumped about a particular situation related to a heating oil storage tank, your best bet is to always recommend that the buyer contact the heating oil company that has been servicing the home. They may have records or insights about the equipment that are not readily accessible during the home inspection.