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Oil Tank Information For Real Estate Agents, Homebuyers And Sellers in Maryland

Oil Tank Information

When it comes to heating oil & gasoline tanks, GreenTrax is here to provide good, helpful, and important information to all parties involved when a property is being bought, sold, transferred, or experiencing other change in ownership. 

In this blog, we’ll be going over 10,000-foot view topics and rules, guidelines, and basic information. As always, please call GreenTrax, Inc for details and more site-specific info. We are here to help. You can reach us at (410) 439-1085, or by sending a message here.

Key Information On Handling Oil Tanks For Residential Properties

There is a difference between a residential property sale vs. a commercial property sale. Today, I will go into residential properties. (As a quick note on commercial properties: the bank will always require a Phase 1 environmental study for a loan, so if there are any out-of-use tanks, they have to be removed before settlement. If the tanks are in use (e.g. like a gas station) that is different.)

Underground Gasoline Tank

Usually we see underground gasoline tanks at larger properties, especially farm/agricultural properties. Still, some smaller properties can have them if the owner installed a buried tank in the 1970’s during the gas crunch to make sure they could fill up their vehicle. 

Buried gas tanks at peoples homes are not typical. If you have one and you are selling, or if you are buying a property with a buried gas tank, 99% chance it is out of use. 

This MUST be removed before closing. Period. 

Keep this in mind: if the property is on well water, you do not want to buy a house and take on the risk of tank removal after closing. 

When gas tanks leak, gas travels further and faster underground than heating oil and will make it to groundwater (e.g. well water) faster. Through all that, you will not know this and your normal well test will not show this. Gas tanks can cost more to clean up leaks than heating oil. 

Underground Heating Oil Tank

Just to make sure we’re on the same page: heating oil and diesel fuel are the same product. There are different colors of diesel fuel, but any will work in home heating oil burners/furnaces. 

There are hundreds of thousands of underground heating oil tanks still buried in Maryland. 

Rule #1 – Do NOT buy a house with an old buried heating oil tank. 

There is nothing wrong with heating oil for heat. New aboveground tanks are fine. Even a new buried tank is fine. 

But there is a 99.99% chance if the house has a buried oil tank, the tank is way past its useful life of 20 years, therefore it has a high chance of leakage (and no, the seller won’t not know if there is a leak).

If you are a buyer’s agent, you are doing a disservice to your clients if you do not insist on the seller removing the buried tank BEFORE closing. DO NOT WASTE MONEY ON A TANK TEST OR A SOIL TEST ON A BURIED TANK AT A HOME! 

The tank MUST be removed or abandoned (filled) in place one way or the other. The seller is responsible for taking care of this before closing. 

That means if the tank is leaking, the seller has to pay for cleanup costs. 

To my sellers: you have lived there for years and used the tank. It is not the buyer’s job to clean up a leaking tank five minutes after they buy the property. 

We have been in the tank business for 30 years and have seen it all. Unfortunately, if you purchased the house within the last 20 years and a tank was there when you bought it, your agent should have insisted the tank be removed and replaced back when you bought it. 

Now, it’s too late for that. Your buyer now may not be able to get a loan/mortgage for the house if it has a buried oil tank. They may also not be able to get home insurance with a buried oil tank. 

Tanks last 20 years and most every single tank we see is 30, 40, 50 years old or older. The most common size residential buried oil tank is a 550 gallon, but a 1000-gallon, a 300-gallon and a 275-gallon tank are also typical.  

Important Fact: MD State law says that if a tank is no longer in use, it MUST be properly removed/abandoned in place by a licensed tank contractor. (e.g. – GreenTrax).

Aboveground Heating Oil tank

The average aboveground heating oil tank will last 20 years. There are models with 25 and 30-year warranties. Despite that, for older homes/tanks it’s pretty likely that the aboveground tank may be past its useful life.

The most common size tank outside or in the basement is a 275-gallon tank. If you look at the end of the tank and it’s kind of “egg” shaped or “oval” shaped, that’s likely 275. If the tank has flat sides with no handles on it, this tank is past its lifespan and needs to be replaced. 

Call GreenTrax For More Help On Handling Your Residential Property’s Oil Tank

This is just a general overview but gives you some info to know what you may be dealing with. As a second generation fuel tank removal contractor, we’ve seen a lot in our day. We have more than 25 years experience in the heating oil tank industry, and we use that each and every day. 

If you didn’t see your question answered above, we’re here for you. Call us with questions, send us a message here, or check some other blogs that go into more detail about these topics. 

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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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