DEP Encourages Heating Oil Tank Inspections for Homes

With cold weather quickly approaching, the Pennsylvania DEP urges homeowners to have their home heating oil tanks inspected for any potential problems before having the tanks re-filled.

Inspections performed on heating oil tanks can help repair and prevent potential problems, and can help reduce energy bills. A leaking heating oil tank could cause indoor air problems and potentially contaminate groundwater and private drinking water wells. A spill cleanup may cost up to $50,000 and may not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Residents who think their oil tank may have a problem should immediately contact their oil company for help.

"A quarter of all Pennsylvania homes use heating oil to stay warm in the winter,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “It is very important that these homeowners maintain and inspect their oil tanks to ensure they are safe and function properly; and at the same time, they will benefit by saving energy and money this winter."

Homeowners should routinely inspect the exterior of the tank and all attached equipment, and check for signs of rusting on the tank and its structural supports. Homeowners should examine the tank’s fill line and feed line to the furnace for leaks, but should always have a professional perform maintenance or alterations to a heating oil tank system. If there are any wet spots or odors around the tank, that could be a sign of a problem and homeowners should call for an inspection right away.

For fuel delivery, make certain that the home address is clearly visible and the tank’s fill line clearly marked. If a resident cannot be home when fuel oil is delivered, clearly mark the fill pipe with a red flag or marker and inform the oil company of the location. Homeowners should also ensure that any disconnected fill pipes that remain above the ground are permanently sealed and cannot be opened.

While heating oil prices have come down since last year, residents are urged to avoid needlessly losing fuel and to protect the investments they have made to keep themselves warm. To download a free fact sheet or to find more information, please visit www.dep.state.pa.us.

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