Happy New Year to everyone who stumbles upon our blog page. We wanted to kick off this new year (2024 already?!) with some essential Q&As. This will make sure you’re prepared for a great year ahead.
If you are looking for more detailed information see some of our other blogs or as always please call the office or send us a message and we would be happy to answer any questions.
Today, we’re going over some simple questions you may have regarding oil tanks – including underground storage tanks and aboveground storage tanks – with very brief answers.
A quick cheat sheet before we get started:
- UST = Underground Storage Tank
- AST = Aboveground Storage Tank
- MDE = Maryland Department of Environment
Oil Tank Removal Q&A
- Can I just stop using my UST and leave it in the ground?
NO. Why? State law.
- When I no longer need my UST, can I just dump sand in it?
NO. Why? State law.
- Does my UST have to be removed?
Likely, yes. A legal tank abandonment in place can also be performed by Greentrax if your situation requires it.
- Isn’t it less expensive to fill the tank in place?
- I’m buying a house with a UST – can we test the tank?
NO. Why? It’s a waste of money. The tank is past its useful life and has to come out.
- I’m selling a house with a UST – can we just test the tank or the soil?
NO. Why? The tank has to be removed, most likely before settlement.
- If my UST is no longer in use for heat can we just pump it out?
NO. Why? State law requires any tank not in use be removed within 6 months (or properly abandoned in place).
- How long do USTs last?
- How long do old AST’s last?
- How long do brand new ASTss last?
Depends on the brand, warranty, and tank construction. New entry-level tanks may only last 10 years or maybe even less. Upgraded tanks can last 20, 25 or even 30 years.
- Why did you say some new aboveground tanks will only last 10 years, when old ASTs can last 20?
The old saying “They don’t build them like they used to!” is very true in this case.
In addition to changes in construction, other factors like a newer change in the chemical composition of home heating oil degrades tanks faster than it used to.
- I’m a real estate agent and my client is buying a property that has a UST. What do we do?
99% of the time it’s on the SELLER to remove the UST prior to closing.
More and more banks and home insurance companies will require their clients to remove tanks prior to closing.
- I’m a real estate agent and my client is selling a property with a UST. What do we do?
Remove the tank now before you get too close to settlement.
- I have an old AST in my basement. Can I just pump it out and leave it?
NO. Why? Sludge will still be left in the tank and can still leak. Plus, the MDE requires it to be removed.
- Can I have my friend remove the tank for me?
NO. Everyone has a problem with what to do with the leftover oil and sludge.
What’s more, if they’re not used to handling tank removals regularly like the team here at Greentrax, they can end up spilling oil and making a mess for you to clean up.
- My oil company won’t fill my tank anymore because of a problem with the tank. Can you fix it?
Most likely… NO. Why? If the problem is one of the few I’m thinking of, that means the tank is past its useful life.
The tank is now telling you it needs to be removed and replaced.
- I KNOW my UST is not leaking because I don’t burn a lot more oil, so I’m good, correct?
NO. NO. and NO! WHY? It doesn’t work like that. 99.9% of the time, a homeowner can never tell by oil usage alone if the tank is leaking.
- Doesn’t my oil company check my AST or UST for problems when they deliver oil?
NO. Unless it prevents them from filling the tank, do not assume they will alert you of a problem.
- I have a service contract with my oil delivery company so they will tell me if I have a leak right?
NO! Unfortunately not. That is usually for the furnace, boiler, or other similar issues. No one can tell for sure if a UST is leaking until the tank is removed.
We have also seen plenty of ASTs leaking and people have had service contracts, tank contracts, etc. Just because they are an oil company does not mean they are a TANK company, like Greentrax.
- Until I have water in my UST the tank is not leaking, correct?
- My home insurance will cover the cleanup costs of an oil tank leak, right?
NO. 99% of insurance companies exclude oil tank coverage unless you pay for a separate rider policy.
- Shouldn’t I get rid of oil heat and switch to electric?
Well, that’s not an easy answer. Here’s what’s worth knowing: oil heat is MUCH warmer than electric.
Plus, if your furnace is still good, a new AST is much cheaper than a new furnace.
- Can you pump out my AST so I can turn it into a grill?
NO. It’s a terrible idea to use something that had petroleum in it around food.
- Can you remove my old UST and install a new UST?
Yes, but it’s very expensive to do that nowadays. It’s cheaper to install 1 or more new ASTs either outside, in the basement, or in the garage.
- I hate the look of having an AST tank outside. What can we do about that?
There are plenty of ways to camouflage an aboveground storage tank. You could build a small fence around it, plant bushes in front of it, plant tall ornamental grasses in front of it, or install a lattice around the tank.
We can also install a new AST that is lower to the ground, making it easier to hide.
- Doesn’t a tank in the basement last longer than an AST outside?
NO. Why? Tanks degrade from the inside out, so the location doesn’t matter for the lifespan.
- Doesn’t the state have a grant program to help me with a leaking tank?
NO. It’s not a grant. Maryland does have a reimbursement program that only applies if you have a residential heating oil tank that leaked.
- I’m buying a house. The seller says the UST was properly decommissioned. Is there anything else I need to do?
YES. Do not believe them UNLESS they have proper paperwork that shows the soil is clean and the tank was dealt with properly.
99.999% of the time when we hear this story it is not true.
- I think I have a UST. How can I tell?
If you have any small pipes sticking up out of the ground, that could be a UST.
Especially if one of those pipes has a cap on it that looks like a mushroom, that is a vent pipe for a UST.
- What is the bottom line about USTs, Greentrax?
If you have a UST, it’s past its useful life. Period. You do not know if the tank is leaking despite what you think. Period.
Let us remove it and replace it with a new AST outside. You’ll be glad you did.
Please call us for further details or to answer any questions that we may not have answered. We are here to help. Our number is 410-439-1085, or you can send us a message here.