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I have a buried heating oil tank I don’t use. Can I just dump sand in it?

buried heating oil tank

So let’s look at a scenario GreenTRAX has seen many times regarding a buried heating oil tank; it goes like this…

buried heating oil tank

A married couple, Don and Dawn, have lived in their house for many years and have buried oil tanks they use for their heat. After some time, the furnace became faulty. They called their buddy, who has an HVAC company, to examine it. After examining it, he claimed that the furnace was old and advised them to get a new furnace and switch to electric heat instead of oil heat. 

OK, great, no problem. 

A few weeks later, Dawn thinks about it to Don, “what do we do about the buried heating oil tank now that we don’t use it?” Don says, “My buddy said to just dump sand in it, so I’ll get some bags of sand from the hardware store this weekend and take care of it.”

So Don gets in his pickup on Saturday morning, drives to the big box hardware store, and bought 12 to 15 bags of sand. He gets a funnel or some other device to put the sand in the small 2 inch diameter fill pipe. 

He starts to dump the sandbags in the pipe one by one until the pipe couldn’t contain any more sand. He’s feeling pretty good about himself. He cleans up, goes inside, and happily proclaims to Dawn, “HONEY! I took care of that old tank; we don’t have to worry about that anymore!”

(Have you heard a story like this? ………… Have you DONE something like this?)  

So five years passed, and Dawn and Don decide to sell their house to buy a new house. They find the house of their dreams and then put their old house on the market. They get an offer and plan on closing in 30 days. 

They start packing and are super excited to move. And between work, packing, and inspections, they became swamped and didn’t have time for anything else. 

After some days, the buyer came to inspect the new home. But the buyer’s found about ten things they want to address, including the old buried heating oil tank. But worse, the buyer informs them they can NOT close on the house.

Their mortgage lender said they would not allow the buyer to buy the house with the old underground tank

Don says… but we abandoned it in place! So, their realtor (Mary) asks him for the closure report and soil sample results. Don informs the realtor that he does not have that and said his friend, who does HVAC, told him he could just dump sand in it, so he thought it was fine? 

The realtor isn’t sure if that is OK since she has not dealt with an oil tank. So Mary asks someone in her office what they recommend. 

They told her to call GreenTRAX; they are the best. 

So the next day, Don calls GreenTRAX, Inc. he explains his problem to the nice lady on the phone (let’s call her Kay). She tells him, “don’t worry, we get these kinds of cases all the time, but let’s go over a few things.” 

“Normally, the seller is responsible for the oil tank BEFORE you can sell the house.” “Second, what you did is an ILLEGAL tank abandonment,” “Third, a licensed tank removal contractor has to remove the tank.” 

So Don had no idea about any of this; he learned that what he did by dumping sand in the tank made things worse and cost’s more money. If he had called GreenTRAX in the first place, it wouldn’t have happened. 

Kay asks him lots of questions…

How old is the tank? What size is it? Where on the property is the tank located? So he answers her, 45 years old, 550 gallons, and in the front yard. Kay then asks him, “if it is on well water or public water,”? Then he said… “What the heck does that have to do with my oil tank? We aren’t doing anything with the water I’m hiring you do deal with the tank”!

 She explains that if the tank is leaking, the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) requires that we take a well water sample to ensure the leak hasn’t impacted the groundwater. “Oh, I never thought of that!” he says. 

Kay explained the entire process to him and answered all his questions. So he said, “OK, when do I have to take off work to meet someone to get a proposal.” Kay said, “No, sir, I can send you a proposal within the hour.” Don says, wait a second. I don’t have to take a day off work to meet you just to get a proposal? How does that work?”

Kay explains to him, “We have been in the fuel tank industry over 25 years; we are experts and have standardized pricing. Our prices do not change even when we think it is going to cost more”“So to save you time and get you a price the fastest way (since when you are closing in 30 days, time is of the essence), we can use online resources to see what we need”. “And I’m giving you a phone number, and if you text a few pics indicating the tank location and pipes, I can get you a proposal right away.”

 Don loved the idea since he had enough to deal with, and taking a day off work is the last thing he wanted to do. 

He sends the pics; he gets a proposal; it was very thorough, complete, easy to read, and professional. So he signs it electronically (he didn’t even have to print it out, sign it, figure out how to scan it back in and email it back! VERY SIMPLE). Don didn’t have to do anything from there on out.

Everything Kay said they were going to do, they did, and they arrived on the day and on time! The crew did the work professionally and explained everything to him. They made the tank removal process look easy.

The tank was leaking, but they dealt with all of that the same day and got the job done quickly and efficiently. Plus, they also got him all of the paperwork before the settlement. The leaking oil tank did NOT impact the well in this case.

So everything went very smoothly, and Don was glad he called GreenTRAX. He sold their house without further complications and moved into their new house.

Now Don thinks………….. Just one thing………….. What about that oil tank at my parent’s house now???……………………………………………………………….. Better call GreenTRAX! 410-439-1085

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More To Explore

The Maryland Department of the Environment is cancelling the reimbursement fund for homeowners with leaking heating oil tanks!

This cancellation takes effect June 30th, 2024. You need to have your buried oil tank removed NOW, so if the tank is leaking you can get reimbursed for remediation costs before the program goes away. Click here for more information on the reimbursement fund as it operates now.

We urge everyone to contact their representatives in Annapolis and the Governors office and tell them DO NOT cancel the homeowner reimbursement fund for leaking residential oil tanks! They can still renew this program before this year’s legislative session ends.

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