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How to Clean Up a Domestic Home Heating Oil Leak

If you store, use, transport, manufacture, or fill products like oil, you are responsible for the safe and appropriate containment of that substance. It is also your responsibility to ensure that the substance is not released into the environment. If you have an oil tank at your home, the clean up of a domestic home heating oil leak falls under your responsibility. When faced with a domestic oil spill, a helpful place to start is to contact an environmental specialist to address the assessment and clean-up of the spill or leak as well as the effects of the spill on the surrounding environment. Read more below to find out how to deal with a domestic home heating oil leak.

  • Why is There a Leak?
  • How to Clean Up an Oil Spill at Home
  • Clean Up requirements
  • Prevention
  • Conclusion

Why is There a Leak?

There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to addressing an oil spill at home. An oil tank can leak because of:

  • A failure in the body of the tank.
  • A failure from a boiler.
  • A spill that occurs during the delivery of oil.
  • A spill on your property from a neighbour’s dwelling.
  • A failure in the components at the boiler side, for example flexible hoses.
  • Wear-and-tear on the fuel transfer lines.
  • If the equipment attached to the tank suffers damage, for example the sight gauges.

Plastic tanks are susceptible to splitting as a result of their age, or because of a defect. If your tank is steel, it could be susceptible to rust, particularly at the base of the tank. As newer tanks are made from plastic, if you have a steel tank you may want to consider replacing it entirely.

How to Clean Up an Oil Spill at Home

If you are worried that there is an oil leak at your premises, it is vital that you contact a professional environmental specialist as promptly as possible. The danger posed by oil spills increases over time. Dealing with the issue quickly ensures less environmental damage and less oil lost.

Below are a number of procedural steps to follow after you have contacted an environmental contractor. 

  1. If your oil spill is indoors and you notice a strong smell of oil at your premises, open the doors and windows to ventilate the area.
  2. Switch off your oil supply at the tank.
  3. Do not use a hose to clean away the spillage.
  4. Avoid coming into contact with the oil. Keep pets and children away from the spillage.
  5. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
  6. If your water supply has been affected, do not consume the water.
  7. Check the level on the tank as soon as possible so that you know how much oil has been lost.
  8. Arrange for the remaining fuel to be collected by a local fuel supplier. 

Clean-Up Requirements 

Thorough cleaning work should only be carried out by authorised specialist environmental contractors. If the oil spill has affected the surrounding environment, the soil and excess oil will need to be appropriately cleaned. It is paramount that you do not attempt to clean the spill up without instruction from an environmental expert.

Here are some things to consider when you are trying to identify an oil spill:

  • Is there a strong smell of oil indoors?
  • Has the oil spread into a drain, or under any structures?
  • Are there any bodies of water or water supplies in the area?

If the answer is ‘no’ to the above questions, it is likely the spill is minimal and not affecting too much soil. With the advice of an environmental specialist, your oil spill should be addressed quickly and with minimal damage to the environment. 


Having preventative measures in place will help you to avoid another oil spill. Below is a list of things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure that your tank and its fittings are well maintained and serviced regularly. 
  • Be present while your tank is being filled in case of a minor spill.
  • If you are planning to replace your tank, ensure that it is installed away from high-risk locations i.e., water sources, and to OFTEC Regulation. 
  • Check your tank regularly for visible faults.
  • Keep a note of the level of oil in your tank. If there is a sudden drop, or if there are any unexplained strong odours, check the surrounding areas for signs of a leak. If you notice an unexplained drop in the level of oil in your tank do not assume it has been stolen or that there is an issue with the reader.


If you encounter a domestic home heating oil leak, it always important to contact environmental professionals. Whether it is a minor or major leak, it is vital to accurately assess the effects of the spill on the surrounding areas. Staying vigilant about the upkeep of your tank should help lower the likelihood of an oil spill on your premises.