Let’s say you are buying a new house located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Or perhaps you are selling a house in Gaithersburg, MD. There are some important things you need to know relating to your underground heating oil storage tank (UST) or your aboveground heating oil storage tank (AST).
Today, I’m sharing with you the ins and outs of oil tanks and basic information to be aware of so you can make the right decision for your home.
Background Information about Gaithersburg, MD
First, let’s take a quick look at Gaithersburg. Gaiithersburg is located in Montgomery county.
Now called the City of Gaithersburg, it was originally called Log Town back in 1765. Gaithersburg has a population just under 70,000 and is the 9th largest city in MD. In the early 1800s, Benjamin Gaither built a house in this area, leading to the area to be known as Gaithersburg sometime in the mid-1800s.
In 1873, the first railroad station opened, leading to the official recognition of the area. Then in 1878 the area was officially incorporated as a town. In 1968, it gained the designation of a city. Today, the city is home to many very large employers.
Need To Know Information About Oil Tanks In Gaithersburg
We are here to talk about oil tanks. One thing you may not be aware of is that Gaithersburg, like much of Montgomery county, has tons of residential buried oil tanks. You should know that if you still have a belowground heating oil tank that it is almost certainly original to the house. If that’s the case, it puts the tank way past its useful lifespan of 20 years.
It is safe to assume that your UST is asa old as your house unless you have proof otherwise. If it’s as old as the house, it’s time to remove the tank and replace it with an aboveground tank. However, if you have proof the buried tank was installed AFTER the year 2000, then that is good. Depending on the year of installation and the tank construction, though, your tank either has some life left or it could be due for replacement.
What To Know About Buying A House With An Underground Heating Oil Storage Tank
If you’re buying a house with an old UST, you could have trouble getting a mortgage or even home insurance. First, ask your provider up front about their policy so you are not surprised last-minute.
If you are the seller, know that your buyer could have these problems with your property. That is why 99% of the time it is the SELLER’S responsibility to remove and replace the oil tank BEFORE settlement.
Why is that, you ask?
Well, an oil tank can create environmental damage and require cleanup and remediation when a leak happens. With that potential impact, it is different from anything else in the house.
Example: If a roof leaks, you can see it right away and address it. Meanwhile, that leak is not affecting your basement, your well drinking water, your neighbor’s property, or causing environmental damage. All of these things can and have happened with a leaking oil tank.
Think about it like this: if the house you were selling had a shingle roof that was 50 years old, but the shingles were only rated for 20 years, would you be surprised that every buyer wanted you to replace the roof before settlement? No, you would not. In fact, your real estate agent would probably tell you to get it replaced before the house was even listed for sale. You should think about your oil tank the same way.
Basic Information For Gaithersburg Heating Oil Storage Tanks
- Tank life is 20 years. This means after 20 years, you need to replace it.
- Testing an old tank that is over 20 years is a waste of money (and test is not 100% accurate)
- Testing the soil is a better test but it is not a substitution for tank removal (it’s also not 100% accurate)
- Increased oil usage is not necessarily an indicator of a leak
- If you’re sure right now “my tank isn’t leaking” – it very well may be (PRO TIP – with every leaking tank I find, the owner told me ahead of time that their tank wasn’t leaking)
- If you tank is leaking and the oil has contaminated the dirt below your tank, it will could cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up
- Old USTs are single wall bare steel. This means they have been rusting for decades
- If you have water or sludge build up in your tank, that is bad; we cannot fix this – we’ll have to replace it
- If your whistle or vent pipe is broken on your UST, it is time to replace it, not fix it
- If you are getting ready to put your house on market, call GreenTrax first so we can remove your underground heating oil storage tank
- We will remove the buried tank and install new aboveground tank the same day in as little as a few hours
- We can abandon a tank in-place if done legally and are not leaking, but is more money than a basic removal
The difference between New & Old ASTs (Aboveground Storage Tanks)
These range in size from 138 gallons up to 1,000 gallons. The most common size that 95% of homeowners get is a 275 gallon tank. We can install a new tank outside or in the basement. We recommend installing a tank outside, but that’s just our personal preference. New tanks come with 3-year, 10-year, 20-year, 25-year and 30-year warranties. 10-year and 25-year warranties are the most common types we install.
If you have an old aboveground tank that is over 20 years old, it is time to replace it. You cannot tell the integrity of a tank just by looking at it from outside. Tanks degrade from the inside out. When ASTs leak they can be and usually are MORE expensive to perform cleanup and remediation than a UST.
What Homeowners Need To Know About A Leaking Oil Tank
- Average leaks are NOT a big deal and when dealt with by Greentrax we make the process easy and will take care of everything for you
- The state via the MDE has a reimbursement fund to reimburse you the costs of tank removal and the cost of cleanup, less a $500 deductible (For details, call 410-439-1085)
- If you ignore a leaking underground OR aboveground tank, the leak will get worse and it will cost you more money
- A bad leaking oil storage tank can impact the basement and the house. For example, it can cause a petroleum smell in the house, it can get into drain tile (French drain), and it can wind up in the sump pump basin
- A bad leaking tank can cause oil contamination in a block wall foundation and get into your well water (if your property OR your neighbor’s property is on a well)
- A bad leaking tank may not only require remediation, but it can also cause the MDE to require a subsurface investigation. This will not only add a significant cost to the job, but this will take months to complete. If you’ve waited until the last minute before you sell the house to handle this situation, you may end up dealing with it for months (even after you already sold the house)
- Do NOT wait until the last minute before settlement to call Greentrax to remove your heating oil tank. Call us as early as possible so this is one less thing to handle while you are trying to move
- We are here to help you through the process, so call us with any questions
If you have a UST, AST, or are in the process of selling or buying a house, let us handle your heating oil tank removal in Gaithersburg. Call the best in the business at GreenTRAX, Inc at (410) 439-1085.