I have a smell of heating oil in my house, or heating oil in my sump pump, what do I do?

Having a smell of heating oil in your house and/or basement is obviously not good and there are a few things you will need to check and think about to ensure your home is safe.

aboveground heating oil tank

Take the cover off the furnace door and look in/around the furnace to make sure something in or around the furnace is not leaking. If this is the case :

#1 turn OFF the furnace so it stops pulling oil to the leak

#2 turn off the “RED PLATE” switch or the switch at the furnace

#3 if you have an aboveground tank turn off the valve on the bottom of the tank(if applicable),

#4 then call your oil company or furnace service company and have them come out to fix the leak.

If your furnace is fine, but you still smell oil, ask a few questions:

  1. Do I have a buried oil tank that I am still using?
  2. Do I have an oil tank aboveground outside or in the basement?
  3. Do I have oil in the sump pump basin?
  4. My furnace/hot water heater does NOT run on oil, did my house used to have oil heat?
  5. Do I have a buried tank outside or in a crawlspace that I am no longer using or that I didn’t even know was there?
  6. If answer to 1-5 above is NO, then look to the neighbors on both sides of you, ask them if they have aboveground or underground tanks, if they are leaking this could be a possible reason you have heating oil smell in your house.

The answer to all of these is to Call Greentrax, Inc. (410-439-1085) and let us help you with this.

#1 & #5 – BURIED OIL TANK – Even if you are not using the oil tank, it is probably leaking and it needs to be pumped out right away. After pumping it out, it needs to be removed by a LICENSED tank removal contractor such as Greentrax. Additional remediation measures may be needed on a case by case basis.

#2 – ABOVEGROUND TANK– You can take a look at the tank itself and check for leaks. If the tank is leaking you can call Greentrax 410-439-1085, or if the leak is bad you can call the MD Dept. of the Enviro. at 410-537-3442 and they will pump the tank out for you. Then you will still need to have the tank removed and replaced by a licensed professional.

#3 – SUMP PUMP BASIN – This is the hole in the basement floor that the sump sits down in. You can dip a paper towel into the water, does it come out looking red, pink, black or yellow? Does it smell like heating oil? If YES – unplug the sump pump right away, it is pumping contaminated water out into the yard. Then the questions above will still apply, and the same corrective actions will need to be taken; only now an oil water separator will need to be installed on the sump pump discharge pipe outside of the house, to clean to water before it flows into the yard.

#4 & #6 – You or your neighbor may have a leaking buried oil tank you may not even know was there. If oil is getting into the house – someone has a leaking tank somewhere nearby. Call Greentrax and let us help you assess what you need to do.

No matter what scenario you have we can help, we have been in the environmental business over 25 years and have seen all kinds of scenarios. We are here to help.

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