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Do I Need to Replace My Basement or Outdoor Heating Oil Tank? [Answer These Questions!]

Outdoor Heating Oil Tank

We want to give you some basic questions and answers to help guide you through something we here at GreenTRAX, Inc. deal with frequently: basement and outdoor heating oil tanks.

More specifically, the question Maryland homeowners have been asking: “how do I know if it is time to remove and/or replace my aboveground heating oil storage tank?”

The answers apply to tanks that are outside the house, in the basement, garage, or crawlspace. For this questionnaire, our answers apply specifically to Maryland. We cannot speak to the situation in other states.

Another note on this questionnaire: We will be specifically speaking about the basic residential heating oil tank sizes of 275 and 330-gallon tanks. These tanks are 5 to 6’ in length, about 4 to 4.5’ tall, and when you look at the ends of the tank they are OBROUND, meaning like oval-shaped or like egg-shaped. They are also 27-28” wide.

If you have a tank in the basement, crawlspace, or outside that is ROUND-shaped on the end like a big cylinder, call us to discuss. This is a surefire sign that this tank is old and needs to be removed.

10 Questions to Ask About Replacing Your Outdoor Heating Oil Tank

Question #1: Have you lived in the house more than 20 years and the tank has never been replaced?

If YES, then the tank is past its useful life and needs to be replaced.

If NO, keep reading.

Question #2: Is the tank a brown, red, or rust color?

If YES, then it’s likely that this tank is very old. These tanks haven’t been made in a long time so they need to be removed and replaced.

If NO, keep reading.

(As a note, yes, the tank could have been painted, but in our experience most people do not choose to paint their newer tank one of those colors.)

Question #3: When you look at the ends of the tank, is it flat on the end with no handles and no indentations?

If YES, this tank is well over 20 years old and must be replaced.

If NO, continue reading.

Question #4: If you answered NO to #3, then is the tank a grayish color, on the end it has one handle on the end, and there is a raised letter “G” on the ends of the tank?

If YES, that specific company has not made that tank in a long time, therefore the tank needs to be replaced.

If NO, continue reading.

Question #5: If you answered NO to several questions above, there may still be a manufacturer sticker on the tank, so go take a peek at the tank. Can you find a sticker that says date of manufacture?

If YES, and the date of manufacture is 20 years ago or longer, then the tank needs to be replaced.

If the date is less than 20 years then your tank is OK. I would suggest putting a calendar reminder in your phone for that 20-year mark and have it replaced at that time.

If NO, continue reading.

Question #6: Does the tank have any wet spots on the end or bottom? Does the tank have a weep where a slight bit of oil gets on your hand when you touch it? Or does the tank have a leak and oil is dripping out?

If YES, the tank needs to be pumped out sooner rather than later and it needs to be replaced.

If NO to all of these, keep reading.

Question #7: Has your oil delivery company told you that there is a problem with your tank such as: bulging ends, blocked vent pipe, non-working whistle, excess rust and corrosion, water in tank, or excess sludge?

If YES, it is likely the tank could be telling you it has a problem due to age and MAY need to be replaced.

If NO, continue reading.

Question #8: Is the tank in your basement? If so, is it completely enclosed behind a wall with no or very limited access to it?

If YES, this is NOT good. The tank needs to be accessible for service and checking. WHEN (not if) the tank starts to leak, you will never know until you already have a big problem on your hands.

The tank needs to be removed. Period. No tank should ever be enclosed behind a wall. Would you enclose your water heater or furnace behind a wall? I didn’t think so.

If NO, continue reading.

Question #9: Is the tank in your crawlspace (and is the crawlspace a very tight area to access, like army crawling to get in there or crawl in on hands and knees?)?

If YES, this tank was put in when the house was built and therefore is way past its useful life. It needs to be removed.

(This would also be the same answer if the tank were under the porch, but the tank is sitting on its belly and not sitting on legs, or if part of the tank were buried in the ground.)

If any part of the tank is buried in the ground, call the GreenTRAX office and email us or text us pics of the tank that you can see. The text-only phone number for pics is also listed on our voicemail message if you call after hours.

If NO, keep reading.

Question #10: Is your tank a gray or black color, and has two small bars handles on each end of the tank?

If YES, see question 5. It is likely or even possible the tank is newer than 20 years.

If NO, call us to discuss at (410) 439-1085. To help make an informed decision, we will likely need to see pictures. Be prepared to email us pics to the email address on our website, or call the office and ask for our text-only phone number for pictures.

We will need your name, address, phone number, and email address to send a proposal to you.

If you went through this entire questionnaire and you are still not sure, see the answer to #10 above.

Let GreenTRAX, Inc Help With Your Aboveground Heating Oil Tank in Maryland

We think we have covered a good majority of the scenarios we run across, but it is possible we have missed something or your situation is slightly different.

If that’s the case, please call us. We are here to help. If you want to have a new tank installed we can help you with that as well. You’re welcome to review our other blogs and pics dedicated to new tank options, warranties, etc., or cut straight to the point and call Maryland’s leading oil tank removal contractor, GreenTRAX, at (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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