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What is the average life expectancy of my heating oil storage tank?

oil tank removal baltimore maryland

Many people ask us, “What is the average life expectancy of a heating oil storage tank”. The average life expectancy of a heating oil tank is about 20 years, but some factors can shorten that time frame. Today we’ll be examining both aboveground and underground storage tanks and considering the factors that can affect their lifespan.

life expectancy of a heating oil tank

Let’s start with an aboveground storage tank or (AST).

While there are many options on new tanks to be installed for length of warranty and type of construction of the tank, old existing oil tanks all tend to be mostly the basic 275-gallon single wall steel tanks. This is what the vast majority of residential customers have outside their house or in the basement. The average life of these tanks is about 20 years.

You might think that your tank being in the basement would protect it from the elements, thus lengthening its lifespan. Unfortunately, that would be incorrect. While the outside elements have some factor of the life expectancy of the tank, it is very small. By and large these tanks will rust/degrade from the inside out. So, you will never know if the tank is in “good condition” or not until the day it starts to leak. The smell of heating oil in your basement is tough to get rid of. So, if you have a tank you know is over 20 years old, the best course of action is to plan to get it replaced with a new tank. We can offer many size and warranty options for new tanks.

And Now Let’s Look at Underground Storage Tanks or (UST).

As a general rule of thumb, the same for aboveground tanks also applies to underground tanks. The average life of a UST is about 20 years. However, with the tank buried, other factors will influence the lifespan of underground tanks. Here are a few factors that might affect an underground tank’s lifespan.

  • The tank’s construction, including the gauge of its steel.
  • An excess of groundwater around the tank.
  • A closely buried electrical line.
  • The type of soil the tank is surrounded by.

We frequently see old 275-gallon tanks buried from decades ago that were never meant to be buried in the first place. Their metal is much thinner than larger tanks and, therefore, they tend to degrade faster and leak more frequently. Most residential heating oil tanks range in size from 275 gallons up to a 1,000 gallon tank, with the most common size being a 550-gallon UST. If you have water in your tank, a broken whistle or vent pipe, or your furnace keeps shutting off due to sludge buildup in the tank, then your tank is telling you it is time to be replaced. Most of the tanks we see are 30, 40 and 50 years and even older, and old buried UST’s are not protected or coated with anything special that help them last longer. This means they have been in the ground rusting over 30 plus years (how would you look after being in the ground for 30 years?) Sooner or later the rust will win, and you will get holes in the tank.

GreenTRAX is Here to Help!

The bottom line is no tank will last forever, so if your tank is over 20 years old, it is NOT worth testing or fixing if you have a problem with it. It is time to remove and replace the tank. If you are going to sell your house the tank must be removed before you go to settlement, and if you are looking at buying a house with a UST or an old AST, call GreenTRAX, Inc. and we will help you through the entire process. We are here to answer your questions and help in any way we can.

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