Above-Ground Vs. Underground Oil Tank: What You Need to Know

Above-ground vs. Underground oil tank: what you need to know

Although oil tanks are not as common as they were in the past – over 5.3 million homes in the United States still rely on oil for heating purposes. But having an oil tank on your property comes with a responsibility to maintain it and ensure it is safe and environmentally friendly.

Don’t forget. These oil tanks are like ticking time bombs, posing serious threats to both your property and the environment. Over time, these tanks can corrode, resulting in dangerous leaks that contaminate the soil and groundwater. The resulting cleanup can be an expensive and lengthy process, not to mention the potential health risks associated with exposure to oil fumes or contaminated water.

In this article, we will discuss the two types of oil tanks – above-ground and underground – and the differences between them. We will also highlight important maintenance tips to keep your oil tank in good condition and reduce potential hazards. Let’s jump right in:

What is a Above Ground Oil Tank?  

An above-ground oil tank is exactly as it sounds – a tank that is installed above the ground, often in the basement of a home or outside.

Above-ground tanks can vary in size but are typically cylindrical or box-shaped and made of either steel or fiberglass. They often have a capacity of 275 to 400 gallons and are commonly used for residential heating purposes.

Above-ground oil tank pros and cons

Pros of Above-Ground Oil Tanks

  • Easier to Install: Above-ground oil tanks do not require any excavation work, making them easier and quicker to install than underground tanks.  
  • Visible: Being above ground, these tanks are easier to access and inspect for any signs of damage or leaks. This makes it more convenient for homeowners to detect potential issues early on and take necessary actions.
  • Cheaper Maintenance: Since they are visible and easily accessible, maintenance for above-ground oil tanks tends to be more affordable compared to underground tanks. This is because any repairs or replacements can be done without the need for excavation work.

Cons of Above-Ground Oil Tanks

  • Exposed to Weather: If your above-ground oil tank is located outside, it is exposed to the elements, such as heavy rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. This can lead to wear and tear over time and potentially cause oil leaks or other damages.
  • Limited Capacity: Above-ground tanks typically have a smaller capacity compared to an underground tank, which means they need to be refilled with fuel oil more frequently.
  • Aesthetics: Above-ground oil tanks are not the most aesthetically pleasing, especially if they are located in a clearly visible area. They can be an eyesore and potentially lower the curb appeal of your property.

What is an Underground Oil Tank?

An underground oil tank is a tank that is installed below ground level and is used to store oil for residential purposes. They are usually larger in capacity compared to above-ground tanks and can hold up to 1,000 gallons of oil. Underground tanks are typically buried under concrete, soil, or even vegetation to provide protection and insulation.

Underground oil tank pros and cons

Pros of an Underground Oil Tank

  • Hidden from View: One of the main advantages of underground oil storage tanks is that they are not visible, making them more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Larger Capacity: Underground tanks have a larger capacity, which means they need to be refilled less frequently. This can save homeowners time and money in the long run.
  • Protection from Weather: Since underground tanks are buried, they are protected from extreme weather conditions, reducing the risk of wear and tear and potential leaks.

Cons of an Underground Oil Tank

  • Installation Costs: Underground tanks require more complex installation procedures, which can result in higher costs than above-ground tanks.
  • Potential for Corrosion: Since these tanks are buried underground, they are more susceptible to corrosion from soil and water. This can lead to leaks and costly repairs.
  • Difficult Maintenance: Maintaining an underground tank can be challenging as it requires specialized equipment and expertise to access and inspect the tank.

Need to Remove Your Underground Oil Tank?

Underground oil tank removal

Oil storage tanks are no longer used as frequently as they once were due to the increasing popularity of alternative heating sources. If you currently have an underground oil tank on your property and are looking to remove it, it is essential to do so properly. 

A professional removal service should be hired to ensure that the tank is removed safely and in compliance with all local and state regulations. This includes obtaining any necessary permits and properly disposing of the tank and its contents. 

Once the tank has been removed, it is critical to have the surrounding area checked for any potential contamination. If any is found, remediation efforts may be necessary to ensure the safety of your property and the surrounding environment.  

Let Certified Environmental Contractors Help

Certified Environmental Contractors LLC has years of experience safely removing and disposing of underground and above-ground oil tanks. Our team is highly trained and equipped with the necessary equipment and expertise to handle any tank removal project efficiently.

Don’t risk the safety of your property and the environment by leaving an unused oil tank on your property. Contact Certified Environmental Contractors today to schedule a consultation and get started.

Posted in
Avatar of peter lordy

Peter Lordy

Peter Lordy is a seasoned environmental expert with over 30 years of experience in Superfund, industrial/commercial, residential site evaluations, and regulatory compliance including RCRA and CERCLA. He is a trained asbestos removal supervisor, holding various licenses from NJDEP for closure, subsurface, and tank testing. As a Rutgers-trained hazmat trainer, he possesses the required 40 hours of training for annual certification, alongside being Roth Certified. Peter is also a voting member of ASTM International and a Radon Measurement Specialist, demonstrating his broad expertise and commitment to environmental safety and standards.