How Long Do Heating Tanks Last?
If you have a home with oil heat, have you ever wondered how long your oil tanks last and how you know when they need replacing? This is a common question we get from our customers here at John Cipollone, Inc. Especially if you are moving to a home in the Villanova area with oil heat, and don’t have the experience of maintaining such a system, you probably need to know about oil tanks and their maintenance.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Tanks
Some homes have indoor oil tanks in the basement, often filled from an outdoor spout. Above ground, outdoor tanks are more exposed to the elements than indoor tanks, and have their own issues if you decide to switch to another form of heating for your home. (More on that later). In-ground tanks- buried in your yard, are less unsightly but have their own challenges.
In general, the lifespan of home heating oil tanks is 20 to 25 years. In-ground tanks are subject to freezing/thawing cycles and usually last only 15 years or so. If you think your oil tank is near the end of its life expectancy, be sure to consider replacing it proactively. If a tank develops a leak and oil seeps into the ground, environmental remediation can be very costly- a friend recently heard of a quote for $50,000 for removal and remediation of an oil tank on a property that had oil left in it, but was no longer being used to heat and cool the house!
Why Heating Oil Tanks Fail
You probably already guessed it- rust and corrosion are the biggest enemies to your oil tank. A tank can rust from inside due to water that gets in the tank due to condensation. Condensation just from the humidity in the air can build up on the exposed wall inside the tank. Water drips down, and settles to the bottom (oil and water don’t mix!” and creates a bunch of sediment or sludge at the bottom of the tank. That gunk starts the corrosion, and can also lead to clogged filters in your system as well!
Are there any warning signs?
If you are looking at your oil tank in your home here in the Villanova area, how do you know if you might have a problem?
Sometimes tanks can fail without warning. Other times, small problems can tip you off and signal that it’s probably time to consider a replacement.
- Pinhole leaks – If you see oil anywhere near your tank on the ground, you could have a tiny leak. These are a sign that corrosion is ongoing and a problem.
- Condensation/wet spots remaining on the outside of the tank after it’s been filled
- Blistering on the underside of the tank
- Rust or dents– this is a sign something is wrong with the tank’s integrity. This is especially true if you have an outdoor tank than is exposed to snow and ice.
- Unstable Legs– if your indoor tank is wobbly in any way, have the tank inspected by a professional, like our great service people here at John Cipollone, Inc.
- Stuck or broken fuel guage– this is something that should be fixed immediately.
- Unprotected oil lines– if the pipes going to your tank have broken or cracked insulation, have your tank serviced.
- Oil inefficiency– if you are using more oil than normal, get this checked right away- you may have a leak and should get your tank inspected as soon as possible.
Call us here at John Cipollone Inc. if any of these problems arise with your tank. Our service technicians can help you diagnose the problem and let you know all your options, from repair work to an all out replacement of the tank.
Replace Before It’s Too Late
If your tank fails unexpectedly, it’s not just an inconvenience- it’s expensive. You’ll have to buy and install a new tank, have your old tank hauled away and pay for an expensive clean up and possible remediation for the spilled oil.
Failure in undergrould tanks can easily cost $10,000 to $15,000 or more due to environmental hazards created by the spilled oil- and those are usually not covered by your homeowner’s insurance, unfortunately.
Even indoor tanks can cause problems if oil leaches into the concrete floor. This can create not only terrible odors that could permeate the whole house, it’s unhealthy as well.
It’s during the colder months when your oil tank is mostly likely to develop issues- just when you need it most! These are the months when it is getting the biggest workout, keeping your family warm.
It’s especially important to keep your outdoor tank free from snow and ice, to prevent damage. Be sure to brush it off and leave a clear pathway to the tank if there’s been a big snow or ice storm.
Tank Maintenance and Keeping a Decent Oil Level
Just like with the gas tank in your car, you never want to run a tank to empty. The last bits of fuel at the bottom of a tank will have some sludge and debris, which can clog your oil lines and damage your heater.
A new oil tank from the experts here and John Cipollone will protect your furnace, avoid tank failure and expensive cleanup, boost safety for your system and will help you conserve energy as well, by increasing efficiency. Be sure to give us a call if you need an inspection of your current tank, or want more information about replacing an aging tank before this year’s busy heating season.