Ellicott City, Maryland: a historic place, for sure. It has a lot to offer to residents & visitors. And for a city it is huge, it is in the top 10 in size by square miles in the state. Ellicott City has been known for many famous floods over the years, however that is in “Old Ellicott City” also known as the “Historic District”, but Ellicott City extends much farther out into Howard County. The first actual mill opened in the area in 1766, but then had to be rebuilt 2 years later due to a flood. In 1774, Joseph Ellicott bought the mill. Then in 1775, Ellicott Mills was founded. This was at the time the largest milling town in the east. In 1797, the US Post Office opened a stop in the area then known as “Ellicott Mills”. Then in 1867, the name was changed to “Ellicott City”.
That’s a very brief stop through what is actually a very long, interesting, and detailed history. But we are here to talk about something else: oil tanks. Or, more specifically, residential heating oil tanks.
Ellicott City and its Oil Storage Tanks
Did you know that there were, and frankly still are, many buried heating oil tanks in Ellicott City? It is almost a certainty that if you have an early to mid 1900s house, it has, or at one time had, an underground storage tank (UST).
Why does this matter to you, you say? If you still have an underground home heating oil storage tank at your property it is likely well over 20 years old. 20 years happens to be the useful life of a buried tank.
So, that means it is time to have the tank removed and replaced. While we could replace it with another underground tank if you want, most homeowners switch to an aboveground storage tank (AST).
A Note on GASOLINE Tanks
If you live on a large property that is or used to be a farm or part of a farm, you need to make sure you do not have an old out-of-use buried gasoline tank. If you do, this is bad, and you need to have this removed straight away.
We have seen that farmers would sometimes bury a small gas tank to use for their tractor and or truck. But the landowners have long since “abandoned” them illegally. They just left them in-place and stopped using them.
Dangers of abandoning a gasoline tank
Even if your property wasn’t part of a farm, we here at GreenTRAX, Inc. with our long history in the tank business have seen even smaller properties occasionally have a buried gasoline tank. This is bad. A lot of times, people who could afford it in the 1970’s during the gasoline crunch installed them. That means if the tank is still in the ground, it is now 40 or 50 years old.
Furthermore, when gas tanks leak, the gas tends to travel further and faster than, say, heating oil. If you have a potable well on your property, you do not want gasoline or petroleum products to get into your drinking water.
Oil Storage Tanks in Ellicott City
The most common size of a UST heating oil tank is a 550-gallon size. But sizes really range from 275-gallon up to 1,000-gallon. And getting back to the farm aspect, it is possible you could have a tank larger than a 1000 gallon. This makes the tank “commercial” and the MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) must be present during the tank removal process.
Even if you do not have a UST at the property, you could have an AST. The chances on this go up if you are in or near the historic part of Ellicott City, or perhaps have a smaller property. We frequently see that these properties that were not converted to natural gas or electric heat still have oil tanks.
The same rule applies to ASTs as USTs: if the tank is over 20 years old, it is time to replace the tank.
Quick Facts About Oil Tanks in Ellicott City
Some basic facts about old tanks to know – for both UST & AST
- Life of tanks is 20 years.
- USTs are just bare steel and subject to rust and holes and leakage.
- ASTs degrade from inside out so just visual appearance doesn’t tell condition.
- If you stop using the tank, you must hire a licensed tank removal company to take care of it.
- If you are selling a home with a UST, you must have it removed before closing.
- When you are buying a house and it has a UST, insist on removal before settlement.
- If the tank leaks, you must seek remediation, which is an additional cost.
- If tank leaks it can impact the well water.
- Normal well testing does NOT test for petroleum products.
- If you are buying a house with a UST, don’t waste money on tank test or soil test.
- As a real estate agent, advise your seller to remove the UST before listing.
- If you’re the buyer’s agent, don’t let the buyer go to settlement without talking to GreenTRAX about the tank.
- For buyers – Your home inspector should tell you to talk with a tank professional (GreenTRAX) regarding the buried oil tank. They should not just dismiss it.
- During real estate transactions – the buyers mortgage company, bank or home insurance company can prevent the buyer from going to settlement due to the UST.
- A leaking tank can impact the house. If oil gets into or through the basement wall or into the sump pump pit, the problem and cost will be much worse. Do not delay.
- Tanks do not last forever do not wait for a leak to do something.
- You as the tank owner will NOT know when the tank starts to leak. Checking the oil level frequently tells you nothing.
- If you get water or sludge build up in the bottom, this is a good indicator of a leak.
- If the tank leaks the MDE has a reimbursement fund to help the owner with the cost of tank removal and the cleanup costs.
- GreenTRAX has removed thousands and thousands of tanks across all of Maryland – don’t trust your project to another company, Call the Best. 410-439-1085.
GreenTRAX, Inc. is the best, most efficient, most reliable, most customer friendly and helpful tank removal company in the state of Maryland.