Oil tank question

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Old 02-02-12, 08:00 AM
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Oil tank question

I have an above-ground oil tank in my garage. It's a relatively new tank -- manufactured and installed in 2004 (the year we moved into this house). Almost from the very beginning, there has been a stain around the fill and overflow pipes on the top of the tank. And over the years it has slowly grown in size. It doesn't smell, and every time I've asked an oil company guy servicing my boiler about it, they would always say, it's nothing to worry about, normal. But we just had our house appraised and the appraisal wrote in the report that the tank was leaking. So, I'm wondering now -- is this really a leak or something else as the technicians have been telling me all these years? Any ideas? Thanks.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 11:17 AM
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Is the vent and fill line run outside the house? What I'm wondering is if there is any way spills from filling the tank ran down the pipe and collected where it meets the tank. Oil does not evaporate away like gasoline so any oil spilled with just stay there. If a drop or two runs down the fill tube every time the tank is filled it could accumulate, make a stain and look like a leak. But, your inspector could be right. There is always the possibility there is a small crack or pin hole where the tubes meet the tank.

If you are concerned about it call around to some local, small airports and ask their mechanics if they have the stuff to do a dye penetration test and how much they'd charge to check your tank in those areas. Basically they thoroughly clean the area. Spray on chemical A, a penetrant that loves to get into the tinniest of cracks. Wipe it off and then spray on chemical B, a developer that makes any penetrant in cracks or holes turn a bright color and easy to spot.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 11:51 AM
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Yes, the vent and the line do run outside the house.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 05:00 PM
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Dane seems to know about this - but there may be other ways to see if there are leaks.

But, anyway, nobody here or any other place else on the internet can tell you one way or the other - at least from the info you posted.

If your oil supplier says it is not a leak, ask them to put it in writing. Who owns the tank, you or the oil supplier? I only ask because in the Midwest, propane tanks are often owned by the fuel supplier.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 05:20 PM
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Well, it's hard for oil to leak out of the top of the tank.

Perhaps the pressure from the fast fill caused some oil to be forced out of the joints. It could probably take a tightening, but in reality your oil supplier is probably correct.

I have seen this where tanks are in tandem.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 05:46 PM
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I'm wondering if the 'stain' you see is actually something in the pipe dope they used on the pipes migrating out over the surface of the tank?

Is this a standard 275 gallon steel oval tank?
 
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Old 02-02-12, 06:34 PM
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I don't think I've seen an oil tank without stains where the tubes meet the tank. I thought they shipped from the factory that way.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 06:42 PM
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They probably oil the threads to keep 'em from rusting!
 
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Old 02-02-12, 06:56 PM
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Interesting. I had an older (50+ years) 275g oil tank that I just removed from my basement (converted to NG a few years ago). It also had the "drip stains" coming from what looked like the top pipe connections. But in 10+ years of ownership I never actually witnessed any leaks from those areas. I just figured the tank had been over-filled more than a few times over the course of its life...
 
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Old 02-02-12, 07:52 PM
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The oil trucks today pump usually 60 - 90 gpm and at that pressure will cause a little staining but is not an active leak.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 08:15 PM
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David, why not call the inspector to the carpet and ask him to produce his qualifications for proclaiming that the tank leaks, and if he can't, ask him to retract his statement in writing.
 
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Old 02-03-12, 05:19 AM
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Thanks everyone. Just to answer a previous question: it's a 330 gallon tank (I guess, slightly larger than normal). Or so it says on it.
 
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