Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a typical home heating tank last? 

Tanks installed before the late 90’s have a life expectancy of 15-20 years.

New technology has lead to breakthroughs in tank design, such as double wall and polyethylene materials, which increases the life expectancy well past 30 years. Please see our Roth Tank and Granby Tank product pages for more details about our tank products.

Can I install a home heating tank outside?

Yes, a tank can be installed outside, however exposure to the elements like rain, wind, and snow, will take a toll on the tank’s structural integrity. Certain tanks have been specifically designed for outdoor installation like the Roth or the Granby Green Shield, but still need additional protection for the filter and lines. At CommTank, we recommend finding a suitable location inside the home, or building a containment shed to protect the tank. All outdoor tanks must be placed on a poured cement pad. Please see our Aboveground Tank Installation page for our outdoor recommendations.

Are all heating oil tanks made the same?

No. First, make sure your tank is U.L. listed by looking for the label or plate with this information. Next, check to see how the tank was assembled. The tank ends on inexpensive tanks are typically welded to the body of the tank using a crimp connection instead of a lap joint.  Repeated filling of a tank can cause joint fatigue on a crimp connection and could cause a rupture.  We have responded to a number of oil spills where the welded joint split and the entire contents of the oil tank escaped. This is why we have chosen to install only Granby and Roth tanks because we know their products are time-tested and of high quality.

Should my fuel line be protected?  

Yes. Properly protecting and insulating your fuel line is an important measure in preventing a fuel leak. A new fuel line should have a polyethylene sleeve or be installed inside a plastic conduit. We recommend installing fuel lines overhead whenever possible but if the line is installed on the floor of your basement, covering the insulated line with cement will protect it from accidental damage. See the Oil Line Upgrade page for more details.

Where should fill and vent pipes be located? 

The tank fill and vent pipes should be installed no closer than 2 feet from a window, doorway or ventilation inlet so that oil fumes will not enter your home. As part of a new installation, we will caulk around the opening where the fill and vent pipes penetrate the wall to prevent pest or water entry at this point. Check out the Aboveground Tank Installation page to see our indoor recommendations.

Are homeowners required to remove existing oil tanks after converting from oil to gas?                         

A tank that is no longer in use must be removed and properly disposed of within 24 months in Massachusetts. A permit from the fire department is required and the tank must be taken to a licensed recycling facility.  For more information please see the Massachusetts Board of Fire Prevention Regulation 527 CMR 9. In New Hampshire the State Fire Marshall adopts NFPA 31, which requires removal of any tank that is permanently disconnected. Fuel, supply, and vent lines must also be removed if no longer in use.            

Is heating oil safe to work with?

Yes, but only if you have proper training. While many homeowners like to attempt do-it-yourself projects, working with fuel oil is not recommended without adequate training and equipment. Accidents involving homeowners that are transferring fuel from a neighbor or friend are more common that you would think. Pumps and containers that were not designed for fuel will leak because oil and gas will degrade rubber and plastic quickly if it’s not designed to be in contact with petroleum products. We offer a tank pump out service and provide our "CommTank Cares" program if you would prefer to donate your leftover oil. Oil recovered from tank removal work is brought back to our building, settled in a vertical tank to remove sludge and pumped through two 25-micron filters. The cleaned oil is then delivered to non-profit organizations that have signed up to receive oil from our program.

Can an unused basement oil tank affect a real estate sale? 

If you want to sell your house in the future, you should have your unused oil tank removed. Most mortgage lenders are making removal of an unused oil tank a condition of sale even if the tank has been disconnected for less than 24 months. If you are purchasing a new home and want to verify that no fuel tanks still exist, an inspection of the property is recommended. Using specialized tank locating equipment we can determine if an underground tank is present or not.

Do heating oil tanks corrode from the inside out? 

According to a 2-year study done in the State of Maine, of the 498 spill incidents that were reported, 17% of oil spills resulted from internal tank corrosion. Not every tank will have internal corrosion because the amount of moisture that sits on the bottom of the tank will vary depending on volume of use. A good practice for homeowners is to keep their heating tank full during the summer. Less space in the tank means less humidity allowed inside of the tank, which means less water accumulation over time.   

Why should I consider removing my Underground Storage Tank (UST)?

Approximately 50% of 275-gallon 12 gauge steel tanks are estimated to develop leaks within 15 years, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Many older underground home heating tanks were never designed to withstand long-term exposure to soil and water. Even steel tanks that were specifically designed for underground use can leak if they do not have adequate corrosion protection. Home heating oil storage tank leaks can be very damaging to the environment and leaking petroleum products may contaminate the groundwater. Toxic ingredients such as benzene, toluene or xylene threaten human health by poisoning the environment and may require costly cleanup.

What is involved in the removal of a UST?

An inspection of the property is performed prior to the removal of the UST, in order to determine what is needed to prepare the site. Permits are then obtained from the local fire department. To determine the property is "dig safe" the respective companies mark the utilities to ensure safe excavating. Underground storage tanks are typically uncovered and removed using excavation equipment. The tanks are pumped out, cleaned and transported to a licensed tank yard for disposal. The remaining sludge is transported to a hazardous waste facility for disposal. Clean fill is then used to backfill the tank grave. For more information about our service please see our Underground Tank Removal page.