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Why do you have to remove a filled in place oil tank?

Jun 16, 2021 8:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock

Why do you have to remove previously filled in place oil tanks?

A small tank leak can range between $8,000 and $15,000, which is an expense and a liability home buyers do not want to assume.  The risk associated with a tank leak drives tanks to be removed and tested, regardless if a tank was previously filled in place.   The photo below was over $140,000.00


Why were oil tanks neglected?

When property owners converted from oil to natural gas thousands of dollars were spent, and many property owners didn't have the extra monies to remove the oil tank.  So many properties that were converted to gas, simply had the oil tank piping removed and the tank left in the ground.    Some property owners (likely because the permit for conversion required something be done with the oil tank) had the tank filled in place.   This was common 20 plus years ago and may have been done by the HVAC company as part of the package deal of installing the new HVAC equipment.  The rub was the HVAC company was not an environmental company and most certainly did not test the tank.

People also didn't want to find a tank leak by removing the tank and seeing holes in the tank.    The photo below shows a tank that has been excavated, cut open enough to allow human entry for cleaning.  At this point, the tank could be either removed or filled in place.  It's actually more effort to fill in place since you have to pack the fill material through the opening, ensuring that entire tank void is filled.  The photo is a perfect example of  a tank that would better off in the long run being removed, but the temptation of filling in place and never finding a problem is a huge attraction.

nj tank removal

Fast forward to today and that tank is getting removed.

Removing filled in place oil tank

Today when selling a home with a tank,  these filled in place tanks are getting removed.  The common response we get from the tank owners is the regulations changed since the tank was filled in place which is why the tank must be removed.  They are 100% wrong, filling a tank in place has always been legal.    Today's buyers want assurances the tank did not leak.


David C Sulock

Written by David C Sulock

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