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Oil Tanks in Severn, MD

oil tank in a basement

Severn, Maryland. The zip code of 21144 is located in Anne Arundel County. Has a population of about 56,000 and an average home value of over $375,000. Severn is a great location being close to Fort Meade & NSA. It is estimated that over ¼ of the houses in this area are used as rentals. Probably due to the high number of military families as well as government workers. Severn is also a good size city with a total area of approx. 17 square miles.

The first colonists to live in this area were Puritans. Although Maryland was ruled by the Catholic Lord Baltimore, he had determined to follow a course of religious toleration. Since more rapid settlement of Maryland was desired, Maryland governor Thomas Stone invited the Puritans to settle on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. In the fall of 1649, a few Puritan families sailed up the Bay to their new home.

The site chosen was a north-shore peninsula at the mouth of the Severn River. The settlers called the area Towne Neck. The names of the area and the river changed several times over the years, and there were many variations in spelling. Towne Neck was later called Greenberry Neck and is now known as Greenbury Point. The river was first called the Ann Arundell, but it was also called the Severn, after the major river dividing England from Wales. Since spelling was often a matter of personal choice, many variations have been used: Seavorne (1666), Seavorn (1670), Seavern (1689), Sebern (1703), Sivern (1781), Severan (1799), and Severon (1801). Severn, however, was the most common spelling.

Oil Tanks in Severn Homes

what are heating oil tanks made from

Homes in Severn have many options for heat sources: oil, propane, natural gas, and electric to name a few. Oil tanks, heating oil tanks, buried oil tanks, and underground storage tanks (USTs), are all the same things – basically a steel vessel to hold heating oil.

If this vessel is below the ground, it can leak after many years and create contaminated soil. Many USTs were installed when the house was built. If it has never been replaced, this means that your buried tank outside in the yard is very, very old.

But did you know that it is also NOT protected! NOPE! The buried tank is not coated with anything special, so it has been sitting there in the wet ground rusting for all those years.

And what happens when steel rusts? It corrodes! And what happens after many years of corrosion?? It will get holes in it, of course! But not your tank, right??? Of course not!!

A Hypothetical About Oil Tanks in Severn, MD

underground tank removal

Let’s say, hypothetically, your tank is not leaking. But what about your neighbor’s tank? Their tank let’s say it’s about 50 years old and buried. It is on the side of their house in between your house and theirs. The houses are about 10 feet apart.

You see the oil delivery company fill their tank 3 times a year, your oil company only fills your tank twice a year (your buried tank is on the back corner of the house). In casual conversation with the neighbor, they say their tank gets filled by “so-and-so company” and they know it is in good shape – no leaks, good to go.

So everyone goes on with their daily routines.

But the Plot Thickens

Time passes by, then, one day you go in the basement and you smell something that smells like oil. You happen to glance down at the sump pump hole in the floor and that smell of oil is stronger. You look at the water around the sump pump and it looks red!! Well, you think, “how does red water get it there?? Wait a minute that looks like oil!!”

So, you march over to your neighbor and bang on the door and yell at them that their tank is leaking and you have oil in your house!! That’s when the owner tells you they had the underground tank removed 6 months when you were on vacation!! and switched to electric heat!!! Don’t you remember he told you at last summers’ cookout (well, you may remember something about that, but the kids were running around and you had a lot going on, but nevertheless…). They tell you they have proof (a closure report from GreenTRAX) their tank was NOT leaking and it’s not their problem.

Time to Act

Uh oh!! NOW WHAT??? So you run back home, sure enough the basement wall closest to your buried tank is stained and smells like oil. Now what do you do? Well don’t panic, and definitely don’t call the fire department; they can’t help.

Call GreenTRAX 410-439-1085, call your oil company, or call the Maryland Dept. of the Environment.

What happens now? Well yes, the situation requires attention, but is not an emergency and you don’t need lights and sirens. Your house will not explode nor will your house catch fire.

Call a professional tank contractor. Do NOT Call a plumber, HVAC guy or general contractor, they are NOT the people to call when you have a leaking tank.

First unplug the sump pump. You want to stop oil from pumping outside on the ground. Then the tank needs pumped out, and soon. The damage is already done, so it’s not an emergency, and its not “pouring” oil out, its slowly seeping. Just after many years it found its way to your basement. Then, if you can air out the house, that would be helpful, run fans open windows etc.

You will need a new tank installed, but you may have to settle temporarily for oil being pumped into drums and left onsite. That will stop most of the leak (you will never pump the tank out 100% – just from the fill pipe alone)

GreenTRAX to Severn’s Rescue

Then you call GreenTRAX and we can install you a new aboveground tank, remove the oil tank below ground, and dig out the contaminated soil.

We will also clean and flush the sump pump basin, assess the situation with the oil smell, check the walls and check the French drain/drain-tile around the house. Additional work may be required but it’s all doable. We have dealt with he before. NO, you don’t have to tear the house down, no you do not have to move out, and no, unfortunately most likely your home insurance company will NOT cover it. Some will but most do not, as you must have a rider to cover the oil tank. The work will cost money but it will not cost a million dollars.

What is the big takeaway from this story?? You should have had the tank removed years ago and you could have stopped this problem. It may/probably still would have been leaking but would have been cheaper and easier to clean up. Because, the oil would not have been inside the house yet. PS – this same exact story can/has happened with a leaking aboveground tank outside, so if that tank is over 20 years old get it replaced BEFORE it leaks!

Don’t let this happen to you. Call GreenTRAX today 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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