Oil tank lifeline?

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  #1  
Old 02-27-14, 04:08 AM
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Oil tank lifeline?

I purchased a house in 2010 and when it was inspected the oil tank passed with flying colors but it is buried underground next to my garage. It is a 500 gallon tank I fill it once a year. My question: what is an indication that the tank is "deteriorating". I read the tanks last 30+ years but I have no idea when it was installed and just looking to stay on top of it to prevent any leakage in the future.
it is a highland tank ACT100U single wall.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-27-14, 05:51 AM
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How old is the tank? I'm suprised that a home purchase in 2010 would have gone through with a buried tank, especially in NY. I baught mine in 08, and the tank had to come out before the purchase.

Honestly, the best thing you could do is remove the tank. If by chance it leaks, the clean up is nothing short of a fortune. I'm sure others will chime in.

FYI - My sister in law left a tank in ground after they converted to gas back in 05. It had oil in it too. About 4 years later they went to remove the oil and the tank, but the oil was gone. Over $150,000 bucks later the mess was cleaned up. Don't get into that position, it's avoidable. Insurance company does not pay for that. The state helped a little, the rest was a second mortgage.
 
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Old 02-27-14, 07:45 AM
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If by chance it leaks, the clean up is nothing short of a fortune. I'm sure others will chime in.
HAVE THE TANK REMOVED as soon as you can (afford to). Let's hope it's not too late.

My own personal 'short story' is EIGHT YEARS and $460,000 dollars long.

The tank was removed in 2006 and the cleanup is just now coming to an end.
 
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Old 02-27-14, 08:38 AM
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The tank has 30 year warranty original homeowner said its fairly new. When it was tested they said it was fine no leaks. In NY you need to have tank tested before purchasing a house. I don't want to remove it if the tank is fine. I would love to convert to gas but there is none close to me it would probably be a fortune since the lines arent so close. Its a 500 gallon tank that gets filled once a year for heat and hot water. In the area that it is buried is next to the attached garage and a wall with steps going up to the backyard. The wall is just layed rocks so if I had to remove the tank I know most people fill it with cement, sand etc. My buddys family owns a company to do it I just don't want the added expense if the tank is fairly new. When that time does come I expect to put the tank above ground in the back of the house above ground to play it safe. I was hoping there was an indication to make sure its still in great shape in the years to come. Thanks
 
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Old 02-27-14, 09:48 AM
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Thumbs up underground tanks can be safe if properly maintained

I am in the fuel storage and environmental remediation business and I've seen 50-year old tanks come out of the ground in mint condition and 20-year old tanks that look like swiss cheese. It really depends on what was installed and where. A Highland tank like the one you have should make it to the 30-year warranty if it's properly maintained. The poly coating will protect the outside of the tank from water and acidic soils. If you test for water accumulation on the inside periodically and have it removed if you find any, that will prevent corrosion. Tanks that are left empty during the summer months are most susceptible to water accumulation. Make sure to fill it in April and add a fuel conditioner and you'll never have a problem with the tank.
 
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Old 02-27-14, 10:10 AM
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I've seen 50-year old tanks come out of the ground in mint condition and 20-year old tanks that look like swiss cheese. It really depends on what was installed and where.
In discussions that I've had over the years with several different contractors and professionals in the field that I've met it has come out that ELECTROLYSIS seems to be one of the prime factors in tank failure.

My tank was installed the same year as my neighbor across the street by the same contractor in around 1961... same tank... so my tank was in the ground 45 years. It was swiss cheese and had probably been leaking for at least 5 years based on the 'forensics' that the lab work returned, most likely longer than that.

Neighbor's tank was pulled the following year and it was FINE.

They were both the same depth with the same type of subsoil around them.

MY tank was located within 3' of the ground rod for my electric service entering the home. Neighbor's tank was on the OPPOSITE corner of his home from the electric service entry (and ground rod).

The contractors I've spoken with have indicated that there is a strong correlation of leaking tanks to proximity to electric service ground rods.

Sandwich, have you noticed the same correlation in your experience?
 
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Old 02-27-14, 11:42 AM
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Sandwich- I just filled it 442 gallons so its full until next year. Who does the testing for water accumulation on the inside? How often? Since its full now since I had 40 gal left can I still add a fuel conditioner? Can you point me to a brand and how much to add. How often do you add the conditioner? Thanks

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/ne...#ixzz2uYLyGBXN
 
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Old 02-27-14, 12:38 PM
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Who does the testing for water accumulation on the inside?
You can do that with a dip stick and some water paste.

http://www.amazon.com/Regular-Water-.../dp/B004F7JD2U

As often as you feel necessary.

Since its full now since I had 40 gal left can I still add a fuel conditioner? Can you point me to a brand and how much to add. How often do you add the conditioner?
There's certainly room in the tank for conditioner, but it should really be added BEFORE a filling so that it gets mixed and distributed.

In my opinion, and Sandwich will probably disagree, unless you have a biological contamination (yes, believe it or not there are bacteria that thrive inside oil tanks!), the conditioners you add are pretty much a waste of money...
 
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Old 03-02-14, 06:49 PM
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I just went thru this same ordeal in northeast, ohio I got very lucky. It could have been worse.

We bought a home in a rural area (no natural gas, or city water. We have a well).

Original 1000 gallon tank, tarred steel buried in the ground. 36 years old. Ive talked with my closest neighbors and Im on the only one with a buried tank. The others have 275 gallon tanks in their basement, or have converted to electric heat pump.

Anyways:
At the point of sale, I had a local heating oil company come out and test for water, and also pressure. The tank did not have any water in it, and passed their test on pressure. The heating oil company declared the tank still 'good' and the people selling the house did not want to negotiate on doing anything with it. I believe they were afraid it was a real Pandora's box.

I also started monitoring the oil tank level during summer months, for 4 months. I could not determine any change in heating oil level.

Despite the positive test result, I was still worried so I had the tank dug up and removed. This was difficult to do because the previous owners (stupidly) built a nice patio over top of the old tank.

Amazingly, my excavators were able to pull this tank out of a 6 foot hole (The tank was 4 ft diameter by 10 ft long) with only doing minimal damage to the concrete.

When the tank was removed, it looked good at first. Then I noticed 2 small holes (diameter of a finger) on the bottom of the tank. These spots were on the 'lowest point' of the tank near the one end . This tank was tilted (by design) ever so slightly in the ground and the 2 small holes were at that low point. They were not at a weld or on a seam or anything like that. Black oil (microbes? ) was leaking out. This was residual oil after they pumped it out. I freaked out and made them dig up / dispose of the dirt that the oil leaked onto. My well is only 30 feet away and only 120 feet deep.

I suspect the tank did not leak when it was in the ground due to hydrostatic pressure in the earth.

One thing that helped me out was I live in a township on a very secluded property so there were not local ordinances/ permits/inspections, etc. that I needed and my excavators were not worried about getting 'caught' by a local fire dept, etc.

We replaced the tank with another 1000 gallon, single wall STI3+ tank from StanWade? The new tank is a poly exterior coating and isolated fill neck. It also has 'antenna's' to concentrate the corrosion to those areas vs. the tank wall.

I originally wanted a double walled tank, but both Stanwade tech support and my local heating oil supplier talked me out of it. Not sure why they did, but I took their advice.

The point I am trying to make to you is that it is worth replacing . Its not worth the risk. Those older tanks are not made to the same standards. When they leak its a disaster.

I have umbrella liability insurance thru state farm insurance and heating oil leaks is an exclusion on the policy.

Anyways, the tank was on the verge of leaking. Had we waited a few years to do the job (or abandoned it), we might have had contaminated our well water.

Good luck! and keep the water out of whatever tank you have!

BTW: I had $7500 in total costs on this ordeal (excavation, disposal, new tank cost, installation, new feed lines to the furnace)
 

Last edited by dizwiz24; 03-02-14 at 07:06 PM.
  #10  
Old 03-02-14, 07:13 PM
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One thing that helped me out was I live in a township on a very secluded property so there were not local ordinances/ permits/inspections, etc. that I needed and my excavators were not worried about getting 'caught' by a local fire dept, etc.
I'm not sure I would be writing about this... I'll delete it if you want me to, just let me know.

Bottom line is that I'm CERTAIN that strict laws were broken. Rural or not, your state undoubtedly had Environmental Protection laws in place, and you and the contractors would face some pretty heavy fines if 'caught'.
 
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Old 03-04-14, 08:38 AM
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My post might have come across the wrong way.

I wasn't trying to allude that I did anything 'illegal' as Ohio EPA's BUSTR requirements that were in place at the time specifically exempted heating oil tanks <1100 gallons in size. This was a couple years ago that we did the job.

There is no requirement to do any testing (though we did, and verified nothing was leaking).

We followed current (at the time) requirements for an STI3+ rated tank to be put back in the ground.

I also wanted to get the job done before the state changed requirements and would make the process to do this more convoluted.

The tiny bit of oil that spilled while the tank was pulled out of the ground was was immediately cleaned up. I also wasn't clear on this description. Those 2 small corrosion spots were intact at time of removal. It was only after removing the tank, that we tapped on them and they broke thru, releasing a small amount of residual black colored sludge out of the tank. This was immediately cleaned up.

The advantage to being in a township vs. city building dept is that we didn't need any permits. Or require secondary inspections.

This was a successful proactive removal/replacement of a 36 yr old tank that may have tested as 'fine' but was not far away from turning into a real nightmare.

Oh, and I did ask the people we bought the house from about why they built a patio on top of a (then ) 25yr old tank. They said they were holding out hopes to get natural gas because they were putting in a housing development a half mile away. They said they were going to fill the old tank with sand and leave it in place.

The best environmental solution is to remove the tank completely and replace. Even pumped out residual oil and residues can become a hazard.

My point I am trying to get across to the OP is that he needs to get this job done right now and not wait.

Even if his tank is 'good', it is not worth the risk.

Also, future changes to environmental codes could make it even more of a hassle if he waits to do the job.
 
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Old 03-04-14, 09:17 AM
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OK, understood...

Yes, the advice to have the tank removed ASAP is also my recommendation.

It just doesn't pay to take the chance.

By the way, I finally got my No Further Action letter from the EPA last Friday. EIGHT YEARS!

ANYONE that reads this and has an underground fuel storage tank... don't do nothing and hope it isn't or doesn't leak. Get that tank out of the ground NOW, or be a 'statistic'
 
  #13  
Old 03-05-14, 06:27 AM
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NJ Trooper, congratulations on getting the No Further Action. I understand the pain you went through to clean up your property. You must be very happy.

Sorry about the late reply on this. I agree that some fuel conditioners are a waste of money but there are some that do a decent job of protecting steel. I found this article where the magazine conducted lab tests on steel plates soaking in salt water and fuel conditioners. The images on the right column tells the story on which products were helpful.

Diesel Additives - Practical Sailor Article

Most underground tanks installed in residential settings are at risk because of the quality of the tank and the expertise of the contractor that installed them. Commercial contractors that install underground tanks for gas stations and fleet facilities know the steps needed to protect USTs. An oil company that hires an excavator to drop a tank in the ground may know nothing about corrosion/cathodic protection. Not a knock on oil companies but most don't specialize in this. Here is an example of internal corrosion that could have been prevented. I recently removed a 19-year old poly coated double-wall tank for a farm. It looked brand new when it came out of the ground but it failed integrity testing. The inside wall had corroded because of the water accumulation on the bottom but the exterior had no evidence of any breakdown (poly coating and labels were still intact). The good news was that the tank manufacturer honored the 20-year warranty and replaced the tank at no cost to the farm.

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