This week some of us have experienced temperatures in the high twenties …summertime is here! This may not be great news if you have a plastic storage tank however, many people are unaware that direct sunlight can make it susceptible to cracking. Here’s some information on the different types of domestic heating oil storage tanks.
Heating oil tanks are made from fabricated steel or plastic and can be installed inside, outside or underground. Either type can be single-skinned, double-skinned (where the tank has two layers) or integrally bunded (bund means protective layer). Integrally bunded tanks consist of one tank sitting within another, the outside one housing the main tank’s fittings and vents. These tanks offer better protection than double-skinned tanks as there is more room between the two layers to prevent oil leaking externally.
Most single and double-skinned tanks need to have a bund built around them for protection, although this will depend on where you live and the position of your tank. The bund can hold 110% of the tank’s contents. If you’re thinking of getting a home heating oil system or changing your current tank, it’s important that you get one that is manufactured to OFTEC (the oil-firing industry trade association) standards. An OFTEC-registered technician can help you choose the type of tank and where it can or should sit so that it complies with regulations, which vary across the UK. There are regulations determining how and where tanks should be installed to limit environmental and fire risks, as well as ensuring it complies with building regulations – which also vary across the UK. An OFTEC-registered technician will be able to tell you what is and isn’t feasible, or whether your current tank meets regulations. You can visit the OFTEC website to find one in your area, or contact the Environment Agency for further advice. It is important also that your tank is inspected annually by an OFTEC-registered technician, which costs around £70 and £100, to ensure it is in good working order. If you have moved into a new property and ‘inherited’ your heating oil tank, it’s worth arranging an inspection. 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.
Tanks can vary in size from around 1,000 to more than 3,500 litres (although these tend to be used commercially) and prices range from around £500 for a small single-skinned tank to more than £2,000 for a large integrally bunded one. Some manufacturers offer a bespoke service to create a tank to suit the consumer’s needs. All heating oil tanks should have a gauge in one form or another to indicate how much oil is left in the tank. This may be on the tank, next to the tank, or displayed remotely. If your tank doesn’t have one, you can buy one costing anything between £25 for a basic gauge, to more than £80 for a digital remote one.