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Remove Your Oil Tank Before Settlement!

excavator remove buried residential oil storage tank

Folks, remove your oil tank before settlement!

The process of selling your house and moving into your new place will come with its own stress. By not waiting until the last minute before settlement to remove the buried oil tank, you’ll save yourself time and headaches.

The underground tank could be a 275-gallon, 300-gallon, 550-gallon or 1,000-gallon tank. Maybe you still use it, and you think it’s great. Or maybe it hasn’t been used in a couple years and you forgot about it. Maybe it’s been out of use since Grandpa was in the war, and you didn’t even know it was there! 

(In case you were wondering, a 550-gallon underground tank is the most common size tank.)

GreenTRAX owner Frank Biddinger removing an underground oil tank with an excavator.

Imagine This: What It’s Like If You Wait To Remove Your Buried Oil Tank

You may have heard about needing to have your buried oil tank removed. It can be hard to understand just how serious the situation can get. So we’ve put together a scenario below involving Dave and his wife Linda as they decide to go about selling their house.

The scenario goes like this:  

A nice lady, we’ll call her Linda, says to her husband Dave. 

“Hey Dave”! 

He hears but he’s trying to concentrate on what he’s reading, so he pretends he doesn’t hear her. Then she comes closer and says “DAVE”! 

Well, now there’s no pretending, so he replies “Yes, dear?”

“You know what I was thinking?”

Dave thinks to himself, “You were thinking you should give me about an hour of peace so I can read my book?”

But Dave knows better than to say that out loud, so Dave replies, “No, Linda, I don’t know what you were thinking. But I was wondering, so please tell me.” 

“Me and the kids are tired of being cooped up in this house after all this time and are tired of looking at these walls. We need to move,” she says.

Dave is surprised

This is the same person who, 2 years ago when he brought up moving to a bigger house, had said she wasn’t moving because the kids were in school and she loved that house and was going to be there for a long time. 

So he replies, “That’s a great idea, can we start looking?” 

She says yes and they’re off on the new adventure. They find a new house they love and put a contract in. At the same time, they put their house on the market and get an offer right away. 

Dave, being the well-prepared person that he is, thinks right away about the old tank buried in the backyard. He knows it is about 50 years old. 

Then he calls GreenTRAX to inquire about the cost and process of removing it. GreenTRAX explains that, yes, the tank needs to be removed and replaced and it should be done right away. BEFORE settlement, they add.

He decides he doesn’t want to pay anything since they are moving. So, he skips it. The buyer, having just moved up from Florida, doesn’t know anything about buried oil tanks, and unfortunately, their home inspector and realtor have never dealt with buried oil tanks so they don’t tell the buyer it should be removed before settlement. 

The plot thickens…

Now, they are 72 hours out from settlement. The underwriter for the buyer’s mortgage company is reading through the paperwork and sees the property has a UST (underground storage tank) that is still there. 

She informs everyone that their company has a policy against their new customer (the buyer) purchasing a home with an old UST in place due to the possibility of an environmental problem. What’s more, their customers then have to spend thousands of dollars they may not have to clean up the problems related to their surprise UST while also trying to afford a new large mortgage payment. 

Linda says she loves the new house they found. The bank lets her know they have to settle in 7 days. Otherwise the interest rate will go up. The seller (of the house Lind & Dave are moving to) tells them they have to settle or walk away and lose their deposit. 

“We are NOT losing this place,” Linda tells Dave. “Figure out how to get the tank out now, so we can go!” 

So the buyer for Linda and Dave’s house agrees to push their settlement a few days. 

(As you can see, it’s a domino effect – this person has to sell a house to afford a new house, the moving truck is loaded and they have nowhere to go. This other person is selling their house to afford the new house and on down the line it goes, a settlement at 9:00 am for one sale, another settlement at 12:00 pm for a purchase, another settlement at 3:00 pm for another sale/purchase, etc.)


Dave calls GreenTRAX back and admits that yes, they were correct, and that yes, the work needs done. Now, though, he needs it done immediately as they only have 7 days. 

GreenTRAX, being the experienced company that they are, informs Dave that this is relatively common. While it can be done, it’s going to cost more now as everything is a rush. The good news for Dave? They are very lucky to be in an area that doesn’t require a permit for the tank removal. Otherwise they could have kissed that hope of a rushed removal goodbye. 

Now, GreenTRAX is able to have Miss Utility mark the area the next day. GreenTRAX arrives the day after that and removes the tank. In that process, they find the underground tank is leaking. Now, they have to rush the entire process for soil disposal, soil lab testing, closure report process and everything else. 

GreenTRAX, being the efficient, trustworthy and go-to tank removal contractor in Maryland, gets it done (as usual). But the job that could have cost “X” if they had done it when GreenTRAX advised them to now costs “XX” because of the rush. 

GreenTRAX gets their closure report packet right away. They give it to the underwriter and everyone is happy and all 3 sale/purchase/sale, etc. settlements go as planned just a few days after the originally scheduled date. 

How To Avoid Paying Extra For Your Buried Oil Tank Removal

Folks, things went fine in this scenario but it could have gone much worse. Normally if an underground heating oil tank is removed and it’s clean and there are no leaks the process only requires a few hours onsite. Then about a week later, we get the soil lab tests back and we can get you a closure report. The process is still fairly quick. It can, of course, be rushed. As you might expect, it costs more to rush things. 

8 Problems That Can Add Time Or Money To A Maryland Buried Oil Tank Removal 

Sometimes, as in life and in dealing with buried oil tanks, things don’t always go according to what you hope (or what you think). Curious about what that might be? Here are eight things we have to account for that could possibly go wrong or add time or money to the process are:

1| Permits

If you are located in Baltimore county or the City of Annapolis, a permit is required and the inspector has to be onsite.

2| Miss Utility

By law the underground utility marking company has to mark before work can be done on the property. They are terrible at marking quickly as required, so sometimes it takes days and days to mark the property.

3| Well Lines

What if your well line runs over top of the tank and gets broken during the required tank removal? You will have to allow time for someone to fix that.

4| Contaminated Soil

We cannot haul contaminated soil away the same day it’s discovered. Instead, the disposal facility has to have a soil lab test result submitted to them before we can haul it away. That takes time. In a normal situation, you should allow 2 weeks, if possible.

5| Repairs

What is the tank under? The sidewalk? Your patio? Pavers? The driveway? The deck? You’ll have to repair whatever it is your tank is under after it is removed.

6| Well Tests

If the oil tank leaks, the MDE requires we take a well sample and send it to the lab for testing. If trace amounts of petroleum products show up in the test, then MDE requires additional testing. That will go on after you have sold the property.

7| Additional Work

If (for various reasons) GreenTRAX cannot dig deep enough to get a clean soil sample from the bottom excavation of a contaminated soil cleanup, or if the leak is very bad, the MDE will require extra work onsite. This will drag on long after you have sold the property and you will be dealing with this after you’ve moved. That is a big headache and hassle.

8| Basement Contamination

If your tank leaked badly enough so that the leak penetrated the basement foundation wall or if oil found its way into the drain tile and sump pump basin this will cost a lot more money and take a lot more time to deal with, and chances are the buyer will back out of the contract because they don’t want to deal with a house that has oil smell in the basement

How To Know When It’s Time To Remove Your Buried Oil Tank

Waiting to have your underground tank removed can result in challenges of its own. It gets even worse when you find out the tank has been leaking. Unfortunately, no one knows if their buried underground oil tank is leaking or not, so it’s best to take care of this problem today. 

Bottom line here is to get the underground tank removed now, don’t wait. No one knows if their buried tank is leaking or not. No one, not even you! So Call GreenTRAX today at (410) 439-1085 and we’ll help you get your tank removed.

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