When they are cared for properly, heating oil tanks can last up to 20 years. However, many homeowners pay little attention to their oil tanks and fail to have them inspected on a regular basis. Because of this, every year the Environmental Protection Agency has had to respond to a number of heating oil spills.

Managing and cleaning up oil spills can be very laborious, costly, and time-consuming. Additionally, because exposure to heating oil can pose definite health risks, you and/or your neighbors may be required to leave your homes while the spill is being cleaned up. Specific cases have been reported where entire houses have had to be destroyed in order to clean up oil spills beneath them. You can only imagine the cost of that clean up and home replacement process. Even in less extreme situations, the bill for heating oil clean up is usually very high.

Safeguarding Against Oil Spills

The most surefire method of preventing heating oil spills is to make sure you check your tank on a regular basis. This process is best done by scheduling an annual inspection by a registered engineer.

Another wise preventative measure that homeowners should take is to ensure that they have sufficient insurance to protect against heating oil spills. Many homeowner’s insurance policies will cover the cost of replacing heating oil in the event of a spill, although there might be a cap on how much they will cover. Be aware, however, that not all of them will cover the cost of cleaning up spills. Homeowners should also recognize that insurance companies will pronounce the policy void if they fail to keep the heating oil tank in good condition or if it is clear that a leak has been there for a while.

If homeowners suspect that there has been some degree of heating oil theft, they should first examine their oil tank to make sure the loss of oil is not due to a leak. Situations have been reported where homeowners have refilled leaky tanks, thinking there had been some theft, only to lose more oil due to a bad leak.

Remember to keep a close eye on your tank, and don’t underestimate how helpful it can be to both inspect and insure your heating oil tank.