How to Tell If Your Underground Oil Tank Is Leaking

Underground oil tank leak

Roughly 5.3 million homes in the United States rely on oil heating for their homes. Some of which may have underground oil tanks. Unfortunately, these tanks can suffer from cracking and other forms of corrosion that lead to a dangerous situation – oil leakage. The presence of an underground tank on your property should be taken very seriously, as it could present a significant hazard to the environment, your health, and even your wallet.

Knowing the signs of a potential underground oil tank leak can help homeowners mitigate costly repairs and potential environmental damage. Here’s a look at what to watch for:

What Can Cause an Underground Oil Tank Leak?

Cause of oil tank leak

Before we dive into the signs of a potential oil tank leak, it’s important to understand how they occur. Below are some common culprits that can cause your underground oil tank to rupture and start leaking:

The Age of Your Underground Oil Tank

A well-maintained underground oil tank should last around 30 years before it needs to be removed or replaced. Yet, as an underground oil tank ages, its structural integrity decreases, and the likelihood of a leak increases. In addition, materials used to create underground oil tanks were less durable in the past, so older tanks may be more prone to cracking and leaking.

Corrosion of the Underground Oil Tank

Underground oil tanks are often made of steel (or similar materials), which can weaken over time. Corrosion can occur due to exposure to moisture in the soil, as well as from corrosive byproducts generated within the tank itself. So, if you own an older underground oil tank, it’s even more important to have your tank checked for corrosion.

Ground Movement Causing the Leak

Movement of the ground beneath or around an underground oil tank can cause the tank to leak. A variety of activities, such as nearby construction, earthquakes, and even tree roots, can cause shifts in the ground and put stress on your tank. This can weaken or crack the tank, leading to a leak.

The Weather

Inclement weather, such as heavy rain or snow, can also cause an underground oil tank to leak. When water seeps into the ground around your oil tank, it creates hydrostatic pressure that could cause a rupture in the walls of your tank. It’s important to monitor your oil tank during periods of heavy precipitation and keep an eye out for any signs of a leak.

How Do You Know If Your Oil Tank Is Leaking?

Oil sheen in water

Now that you know what an oil tank leak is, let’s take a look at the signs to watch for. If you notice any of these signs, contact a professional inspector right away:

An Oil Sheen in Your Water

If you notice an oily sheen on the surface of the water around your home, it could be a sign that your underground oil tank is leaking. The oil may have seeped into the nearby groundwater and created a slick coating across the top of any standing water sources – such as ponds and streams.

This type of contamination can be very dangerous and should be addressed right away. Contacting a professional to inspect the area will help protect your home, as well as nearby properties, from potential damage caused by the leaking oil tank.

A Significant Increase in Your Heating Bill

If you notice a sudden and unexplained spike in your heating bill, it could be a sign that your oil tank is leaking. Leaks can lead to a loss of oil, which will increase your energy usage in order to compensate.

So, if you’ve ruled out other causes for the rise in your heating bill, it may be time to contact a professional to search to assess your underground oil tank for potential leaks. They will be able to help you determine how to best address the issue and restore your home to a safe and efficient environment.

Plants Dying Around Your Oil Tank

Another sign of an underground oil tank leak is dead or dying plants and vegetation near your home – especially in the area where the underground oil tank is located. This is because the oil leaked from the tank can seep into the soil and contaminate it, killing vegetation.

As such, dead or dying plants could mean the leak has been present for some time and should be urgently addressed. Leaving it unresolved could cause further environmental damage and even affect neighboring properties. So, be sure to contact a professional to inspect and assess the situation as soon as possible.

The Smell of Oil

If you notice a strong, pungent smell around your home that is similar to diesel fuel, it could be a sign of an underground oil tank leak. This is because the volatile compounds in oil can evaporate into the air and create a vapor – which has its own distinct smell.

This odor can cause headaches, nausea, and other health problems if it is present around your home for a prolonged period. If you smell the scent of oil, contact a professional inspector to come and assess your property. In some cases, removing the oil tank and cleaning up the area may be necessary – so don’t hesitate to get help immediately.

Final Thoughts

Oil tank search and removal

When it comes to protecting your home from underground oil tank leaks, the most important thing is to stay vigilant and be aware of the signs. If you notice any of the symptoms discussed in this blog post, contact us right away to assess the situation, or if you need to search or remove the oil tank. Taking quick action will help ensure that you, your home, and the environment are safe from potential damage.

At Certified Environmental Contractors, we specialize in providing top-tier oil tank inspection and removal services. Our experienced team of professionals is available to assess any potential issues related to underground oil tanks and provide the best solutions for your specific needs.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you keep your home safe from leaks!

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Certified Environmental

Jason is an environmental scientist with 11+ years of experience working on environmental projects in New Jersey.