Hot Environmental Topics

Why GPR Tank Sweeps are so important.

Sep 1, 2020 8:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in OIl Tank Sweeps, tank scans, oil tank leak, foam filling oil tank, pa tank removal

0 Comments

Protecting your interest when you buy a property is called Due Diligence and one of the most important due diligence steps you can take is performing a tank sweep with GPR. 

Why perform a tank sweep?

Most homes built before 1980 likely had oil heat at one time, so 90% of single family homes likely had oil heat in the past, possible several owners before.  Oil tank are made of metal, they rust, they leak and it can costs thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to cleanup.  You don't want to buy a home that has an oil tank liability.

 

The home in this photo series is  circa 1920's, so oil usage was 100%. 

Buyers were told the basement had two ASTs (Aboveground Storage Tanks), that were removed. This photo shows where the ASTs were located in the basement.

 

Houses with AST's may also have had UST's

But just because a property had an AST doesn't mean the site didn't have a UST (underground storage tank). 

So why bother to do a tank sweep for a property where there is documentation of former Aboveground Storage Tanks?  Simple nothing lasts forever and the older the property, the more likely that a tank may have had to be replaced.

Can you see evidence of a UST in this photo?   

It's obvious to the trained eye.

All photos on this page are from the same property.     The buyers were told the home had oil heat, the oil tank was an Aboveground Tank in the basement, which was true but seller's failed to mention that the AST replaced an Underground Storage Tank (UST).  Or the owners didn't know that there was a UST since they didn't do a tank sweep when they bought the house.   Although the sellers had their own consultant use a metal detector to scan the site, which couldn't locate a UST.

Tank sweeps experts

 

Simple is not always best.  No doubt your current smart phone ( phone, camera, computer, GPS, etc.) in your pocket is a vast improving from your phone of 10 years ago.  Most likely more expensive but it does so much more.

Having the best available technology also translate to an effective tank sweep.   A $225.00 tank sweep with an $800 metal detector, it not an effective tool for locating tanks, as the cost of the equipment can attest.

metal detectors are poor toold for finding tanks

The sellers metal detector results?

The metal detector produced some deflection around the plant bed indicating a possible metal tank.    Curren scanned the area with GPR and fund the metal signature were the oil tank lines from the house to the tank. 

The metal detector then went over the adjacent driveway.  The findings?

The metal detector indicated a slight, faint response at a location about mid-way beneath the driveway directly in line with the remote fill. Due to the faint nature of the signal, possibly caused by wire or rebar in the concrete driveway pad, the location could not be defined.

 

When you need work performed you want to hire a professional with years of experience and the best possible tools for the job.  Curren was hired by the buyers to perform a GPR tank sweep.

Within the first 10 minutes of the Curren technician being on site, we were able to locate the remote oil tank fill which had been covered over with soil.   See photo below, the red tile probe is pointing to a round cap in the landscaping which is the tank fill.

IMG_6083

Tank Sweep Questions?

IMG_6082-1

If you were buying a commercial property you would perform a tank sweep with GPR as that is the standard and most effective approach.  But if you are buying a commercial property you are more experienced than the run of the mill buyer.

Curren scanned the driveway with GPR and located the tank, which the metal detector could not pinpoint.buried oil tank GPR image

The tank is outlined in yellow lines in the photo below.  The tank was under reinforced (steel) concrete making the metal detector useless, but allowing the Ground Penetrating Radar to locate the tank.

 

GPR Tank Sweep

The best service directly correlates to most experienced and using the best equipment.  Hiring chuck in a truck with an $800 metal detector, who also works out of their house, may offer an attractive price, but are you getting the best service?  Is the metal detector really the best device?

To be fair performing a Geophysical evaluation which is what a tank sweep is, can involve using multiple technologies.   When we find a buried anomaly (tank) we typically also verify the anomaly as metallic using two different metal detectors.  Trust me when you find a tank that a seller didn't know exists, they want to know its a tank, confirming a metallic signature helps the medicine go down, it is just a metal detector should not be your only technology you rely upon.

 

Ground Penetrating Radar tank sweeps

We also have removed thousands of tanks so we know what we are looking for.Tank sweep experts for over 20 years

 

tank experts

locating buried tanks

 

professional tank sweep

 

Read More

Should I buy a house with a buried oil tank?

Jun 10, 2020 10:15:00 AM / by david sulock posted in oil tank removal, oil tank removal nj, oil tank, oil tank leak, buying a home with a tank

0 Comments

Should I buy a house with a buried oil tank?

Buying a house with an oil tank is one of the biggest financial liabilities a home buyer can assume.  Buried oil tanks and Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs)  leak over time, and the oil pollutes subsurface soil and leaches into underground water.  Bottom line, oil tank leaks are expensive and owners of contaminated sites are responsible to clean up these leaks.

Environmental regulations dictate what is permissible amounts of oil that can remain in the ground. If oil levels are above permissible limits you have to remediate, remove contaminated soils to clean up the oil. The owner of the property is the responsible party. Small oil tank leak cleanups will cost around $10,000.00 and large soil remediation projects can exceed $50,000.00 even up to  $100,000.00. At that point, sellers are motivated not to make a big deal about an oil tank and buyers have to be cautious about buying a house with an oil tank.

 

oil tank remediation

Oil tanks are confusing for those involved, as these oil tanks and leaking oil tanks have laws, regulations and liability    Oil tanks have liability like that of driving your car, risk is everywhere, but to understand the risk with oil tanks you have to look at the tank on a molecular level.

First 98% of oil tanks are made of steel. Steel rusts.  During the life-span of a tank it will eventually leak.  

all oil tanks will leak evantually

The home below was built in 1968, tank was removed in 2019 = 51 year old tank.

buying a house with an oil tank 

90% of tanks have exceeded their designed life expectancy.

New tanks today, on average, have of 10, 20, 25 and 30 year warranties, depending on what tank you buy.  Clearly the more expensive tank has the longer warranty.  The tank on the left has a 30 year warranty, the tank on the right if bought today with a basic warranty would have a 10 year warranty.

 

Double wall Tank 30 year warranty

Above Ground oil tank Leaking-1

 

Think about buying anything, how focused are you on the warranty?  can you remember how long the warranty is on your car, dishwasher, hot water heater?

Calculating back from the year 2020, the following would be the age of a tank from the home you are buying.  Rarely EVER do people replace USTs with a new UST. Think about the following:

  • Home Built in 1940 has a 80 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1950 has a 70 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1960 has a 60 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1970 has a 50 year old tank
  • Home Built in 1980 has a 40 year old tank

 

Is buying a home with an oil tank a good idea?   Well if the oil tank has been replaced and you have a warranty, then you have a good baseline regarding when the tank will need replacement.  This unicorn and rainbow scenario is likely three percent of transactions where an oil tank is present. The norm is the seller will say "I bought the house with the tank and so should you".

Mortgage companies and insurance companies are well acquainted with the liability of oil tanks.  Residential buried oil tanks consistently cause trouble for home sellers and home buyers.  Sellers do not want the liability and many want to sell the home "as is" with the underground oil tank.   Buyers, are more informed than ever and they don't want to buy a leaky tank.   Add in mortgage lenders who are wary of  buried oil tanks and may refuse to provide loans to purchase homes having them. Insurance companies may not want to write a policy for a property with an oil tank.  

If you are buying a home with an oil tank, the best advice is to ask the owner to remove and replace the oil tank.  The reason being, the tank is most likely well past a reasonable life span, and when it leaks you will not know, it's not a roof where leaks are obvious.  It is also not always worth testing the tank due to the age, regardless of if you get a passing tank test, there will be a recommendation to remove the tank due to take age. 

If your trying to sell a home with an old oil tank, read the paragraph above.  No one wants to buy an old tank, which by all standards (common sense included) is old and should be replaced.  If you are the last person holding the straw and are responsible for removing the tank, I am sorry, I would give you the same advice if you were buying a house with an oil tank.

 

Call Curren Today

 

Read More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Posts