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What To Do if Your Oil Tank Leaks?

The majority of homes in Ireland use home heating oil as their primary heating source. If you use oil at your domestic premises you should prioritise its safe storage. Many homeowners don’t know what to do if their oil tank or boiler leaks at home. A heating oil tank leak can be stressful to rectify and can cause significant environmental and property damage. Wear and tear can happen to your oil tank over time which can result in harmful leaks. Below we will examine how to identify an oil tank leak, as well as what you should do in the event of a home heating oil tank leak.

  • What is an Oil Tank Leak?
  • How Do You Know if Your Oil Tank is Leaking?
  • How Do you Fix a Leaking Oil Tank?

What is an Oil Tank Leak?

Domestic oil tanks are usually found above ground adjacent to domestic dwellings. Naturally, noticing an oil spill at your home can be a stressful situation without an appropriate plan in place. One of the main early warning signs is odour. A small amount of oil leakage will result in a strong odour of kerosene or diesel. If you smell oil in your home you should immediately proceed to your oil tank to visually inspect it. If you can see signs of oil around the tank it is likely that your tank is leaking. 

The likelihood of your Aboveground Storage Tank failing increases with time. If a fuel storage tank is not adequately cared for, it can lead to the failure of the tank and a potential fuel spill. This can be damaging to both your property and the environment. 

Some common warning signs to lookout for include:

  • Rust
  • Splits or cracks
  • Bulging
  • Subsidence on base
  • Gauges not working
  • A sudden increase in fuel usage
  • Tanks overgrown with foliage
  • Strong fuel odour

How Do You Know if Your Oil Tank or boiler is Leaking? 

Noticing an oil spill or leak will depend on where it is coming from. As noted above, the smell of kerosene or diesel will be the first indictor. A heating oil tank leak in your house may be coming from the boiler, which can cause significant property damage if it goes unaddressed. After a fuel odour, you may notice oil spillage near the tank. Once you notice the leak, you should immediately turn off your oil supply at source and contact an expert to clean up the spillage and replace your domestic oil tank.

When dealing with an outdoor oil tank leak there are a number of steps that you must follow. The most important thing to do is to contact an expert environmental specialist to address the site. After you have done this, you can identify the source of the leak.  If possible, take simple actions to reduce the extent of the leak. This may include turning the oil off at the source, righting an upturned tank, or placing plastic containers below a fracture in the structure. Sealing a slight defect / crack with soap will also suffice and seal a defect / small crack temporarily.  Check the base of the tank for any splits in the structure of the tank. It is vital that you are present for the refilling of your domestic oil tank in case of a minor spill occurring at the time of the refill. This will prevent false alarms when it comes to identifying a potential oil tank leak.

How Do You Fix a Leaking Oil Tank or boiler?

Each oil tank leak is unique and the location of the tank will influence how you go about fixing it. If your boiler is leaking in your home you should begin by turning off the oil supply at source at the oil tank and ventilating the affected area.  You can achieve ventilation by opening all of your doors and windows. Avoid coming into physical contact with the spillage and keep children and pets away from the contaminated area. The possible health risks from exposure to oil vapours include nausea, disorientation, headaches, and dizziness. Longterm exposure can magnify these harmful effects. It is important to contact expert  environmental contractors who specialise in domestic fuel spills and oil remediation services so that the correct procedure can be followed during the clean up process.  Whether you are dealing with a minor or major oil spill, it is best to consult expert advice to avoid expansive damage to the surrounding area.

To avoid a domestic oil spill altogether there are a few preventative measures that homeowners can take. Ensure that your oil storage tank, boiler and related pipes are in good condition by visually inspecting them at regular intervals and undertaking a regular service by an OFTEC regulated plumber. If you have an older oil tank you should consider replacing it entirely. If you do not keep your fuel storage systems in a functional condition, you risk causing environmental, property and third-party damage.  OFTEC Guidance documents can assist with correct installation, storage, etc.