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Signs of Oil Tank Trouble To Watch Out For

Your Tank Could Be Sending Warning Signals—Here’s What to Look For!

oil tank problems portland, me Other than checking to see if you need a delivery, you probably haven’t given much thought to your oil tank. And typically, that’s fine. Heating oil tanks are fairly low maintenance items and are built to last a long time.

How Old is Your Heating Oil Tank?

But eventually, they need do to be replaced. As your tank approaches the 20-year mark—or is already well past that—you should start keeping an eye out for the warning signals that it’s hitting the end of its lifespan.

Here are the telltale signs that your heating oil tank could be on its way out—and why you should schedule an inspection before it’s too late.

  1. Damp Spots: The first sign your oil tank is leaking is a damp spot on the tank. Usually, they will appear on the underside of your tank or along the seam at the bottom of the tank. As the leak gets worse, oil will travel up the side of the tank.
  2. Paint Problems: Blistering in the paint on the underside of the tank is a sign the tank is compromised. Condensation on the outside of the tank, even after a delivery, is also a warning sign.
  3. Sticky Drips: If the leak goes undetected, black icicle-like deposits or sticky drips will form on the underside of the tank. You may or may not notice an oil smell.
  4. Floor Stains: Reddish black spots will appear on the floor underneath the area. Depending on how long the leak goes undetected, an oil stain will begin to develop on the floor.

What’s the Typical Lifespan of Heating Oil Tanks?

How long should your oil storage last—and when should you think about getting a new one? The honest answer is “it depends.” A variety of factors can influence the lifespan of your heating oil tank including its age, maintenance schedule, and the quality of construction, as well as installation.

The good news is that modern heating oil storage tanks have come a long way from designs of the past, offering virtually leak-proof performance for decades. Here’s what you need to consider:

Age: If your tank is less than 15 years old, you’re likely alriht for a few more years. If you don’t know when it was installed, and your home was built before 2000, it’s probably time to replace your tank.

Construction: Older tanks are made of steel and can be of single- or double-walled construction. In addition, the steel can be different gauges or thicknesses. Thicker, double walls are better. Also, the location of the connector valve can make a difference. Connectors at the bottom of the tank (instead of the side) last longer.

Newer tanks are made from plastic and fiberglass and are designed to last 50 years or more.

Steel tanks are still available today, but they are built to a much higher standard than in the past. Using alternative construction materials such as fiberglass and polyethylene for the inner lining of double-walled tanks make them virtually leak-proof.

Maintenance: If you leave your tank empty over the summer, condensation can build up inside. That can lead to rust. Sediment at the bottom of the tank can also result in corrosion. All that damage happens from the inside out, so if you see rust or seepage on the outside of your tank, you need to act fast to avoid a costly leak and spill.

Consider having a professional inspection every year—as tank leaks may not be covered under your home insurance.

The Bottom Line on Heating Oil Tanks

Waiting until your tank fails is not the best way to find out it’s time to replace it. The hassle and expense of remediating an oil spill is a lot bigger than the cost of simply replacing an aging tank.

If you think it’s time to replace your tank, contact the professionals at Pitstop Propane and Fuels today to learn more about expert oil tank replacement, installation, and removal in southern Maine.