Get your tank inspected annually to ensure it’s in good working order. Some manufacturers recommend six-monthly checks. A technician registered with the oil-firing industry trade association, Oftec, should carry out the service. Find an Oftec-registered technician here. Inspections cost around £70-£100. If you’ve moved into a new property and ‘inherited’ your heating oil tank, it’s worth arranging an inspection as soon as possible. Steel tanks have an oil-resistant coating, which needs to be maintained to prolong the life of the tank. Check with the manufacturer to find out what maintenance is needed besides yearly servicing.
Oil tank checks you can do yourself
Besides an annual service, there are simple checks and precautions you should take to make sure your tank is in a good condition: Check for signs of damage, such as bulges, deep scratches, cracks, discolouration, rust or major dents. Look out for any oil that has leaked out externally, particularly around pipes, valves and seams. Make sure that any external protection, such as a bund (scroll up to find out more), isn’t filled with large amounts of water, oil, rubbish or weeds. Keep access to and around the tank clear, and don’t allow plants to grow near it. Make sure vents, gauges and access points are closed and protected so that rainwater, insects or dirt can’t get into them. Check that gauges and alarms are working correctly, and in particular the batteries. Consult the manufacturer for advice on how to do this. Keep an oil-spill kit with drain blockers, leak-sealing putty and absorbent materials. Make sure your tank is only filled to around 80-90% of its capacity to avoid overfilling, and ensure your tank has an overfill protection device or alarm.
What you should do if your heating oil tank leaks
Oil is toxic and harmful to the environment, including animals, plants and water sources. It’s against the law to cause pollution, so any defects found should be fixed immediately by a professional. If oil is escaping from the tank, call the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline (0800 807060). It can cost thousands to clean up an oil spill, so you should get insurance that: has a high enough liability limit to cover the cost of cleaning up your property or neighbouring land covers the cost of replacing lost, leaked or stolen oil covers environmental clean-up for accidental loss. Not all insurance policies cover oil leakage. See our guide to home insurance for more information, and to find which insurance companies are highly rated by its customers. If you need to change your current tank, it’s important to get one that’s manufactured to Oftec standards (OFS T100 for plastic tanks or OFS T200 for steel tanks).