There is no set age where an above ground oil tank needs replacement. It all depends on how well it’s maintained. Oil tank failure rate seems to rise after around 30-40 years. Oil tanks can look fine on the outside, but have corrosion inside. Rust eats away at the metal, and can become weakened and leak over time. The amount of condensation that accumulates in the tank is a big factor in tank longevity. Preventing water from getting in the tank helps delay internal rust, but oil tanks are not vacuum sealed. Humidity can cause condensation that leads to corrosion inside. For rust to form you also need oxygen, which is mostly blocked by the fuel. If an oil tank sits empty for months at a time, humidity and moisture are free to do their damage.
It is also possible for corrosion to start on the outside, but that can be noticed and addressed. External rust when evident should be brushed and primed with a rust preventing primer, then paint if desired. If there is visible rust bubbling at a rust spot, it’s best to leave it alone and contact a professional.
A leaking oil tank in the basement, while unlikely, should be easily detectable in early stages due to the smell. Even a teaspoon of fuel spilled will be noticeable. Before a tank actually leaks, there should be signs of rust and deterioration that regular inspection would catch before it becomes a big, expensive disaster. During an annual tune up, our technicians inspect customers oil tanks. We are happy to inspect your oil tank free of charge at any time, call the office to schedule your oil tank inspection.

Checklist for aging oil tanks:

  • Are tank legs and foundation stable?
  • Is the tank surface free of rust, weeps, or excessive denting? Is the area around the filter and valves free of drips or signs of leakage?
  • Are the oil lines between the tank and the furnace enclosed in protective tubing?
  • Is the tank protected from rain, snow and ice?
  • Is the tank vent unclogged and free of ice, snow, corrosion, or insect nests?
  • Does the tank system have a vent alarm and is it working properly? (Ask oil delivery person if the alarm whistles when full.)
  • Are the areas around the fill pipe and vent pipe free of signs of spills?
  • Are you using an average amount of oil for your system? (Using more oil than normal usually indicates a problem with your system.)

If you have questions or concerns regarding your oil tank, call us today at 610-935-9200