Self-Inspection Checklist for Basement and
Outdoor Home Heating Oil Tanks
Each year thousand of oil spills from household on-premise-use heating oil tanks are reported. The cost to clean up a spill can range for thousands to several hundred thousand dollars, not to mention the disruption and inconvenience to the homeowner. Some spills occur due to overfilling the tank, while others occur because the tank was not properly located, installed, or maintained.
Heating systems should be installed in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association’s Code for the Installation of Oil Burning Equipment, applicable local codes, and the state’s Department of Environmental Services best management practices. The responsibility to maintenance the tank lies on the homeowner or tenant. Oil tanks can leak or play a vital role in an oil spill if it is not periodically checked and maintained, this is especially true for outdoor tanks.
The Department of Environmental Services recommends that you inspect your tank system at least every three months. Below is a short checklist of items that you can easily observed to reduce the chance that oil will be accidentally released from your tank or its piping. If you answer “NO” to any question, your tank may be at risk. In that case, please contact your fuel provider or a reputable plumbing and heating contractor for further evaluation. DES recommends that you only look and not touch your tank or piping during inspection and a trained professional should correct any noted problems or defects.
- Are the tank and all portions of the system free from any leaks? __YES __ NO
- Does the tank meet tank meet either Underwriters Laboratory 80 or 142 Standards? (Typically indicated by a sticker or stamped label.) ___YES ___NO
- Are the tank and all supports free from significant rust and corrosion? __YES __NO
- Is the tank completely above the ground and at least 4 inches from any surface on all sides? ___YES ___NO
- Is the tank set on a one-piece concrete pad or concrete floor? ___YES ___NO
- Are the tank legs installed with floor flanges or another type of “feet”? ___YES __NO
- If outdoors, is the tank on the gable end of the building or otherwise protected from roof ice and snow damage? __YES __NO
- If outdoors, is the filter covered or otherwise adequately protected? __YES __NO
- Is the supply line continuously plastic-coated copper from the tank to the furnace with no unions or splices? __YES __NO
- Is the inside diameter of the vent pipe at least 1.25 inches and equal to or larger than the oil fill pipe? __YES __NO
- Does the tank have a working sight gauge and vent whistle? (An audible device to warn the oil delivery person that the tank is full.) __YES __NO
- Are both the fill and vent lines fitted with proper caps? __YES __NO
*This is intended to be a starting point and by no means to replace official yearly inspections and maintenance*