Maybe you’ve been living in the same home for awhile, or you’re moving and wondering if you’ll be shelling out money in a couple years for a new oil tank. Either way, it’s wise to know what a healthy oil tank looks, sounds and acts like so you’re not surprised by a costly and inconvenient oil leak in the middle of a NorEaster.

As a general rule, a properly-maintained oil tank can last between 15 and 20 years. If maintenance has been rare, you may only get 10 years out of one, but even if it’s been inspected regularly, a 20-year-old tank ought to be replaced. 

While you might be tempted to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” an oil leak could happen at any time with an older tank. The cost to clean up a spill (especially indoors where it can seep into your basement flooring) can cost anywhere between $4,500-$15,000 — and your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the costs. That’s in addition to the standard cost for the new oil tank. 

What if I’m somewhere between 15 and 20 years? What am I looking for? 

Perhaps you’re right in that 15-20 year gap and wondering if you can push off the expense of getting a new oil tank for another year — or four. Or maybe you saw something that looked fishy and you’re wondering if you can ignore it. 

Here are some tell-tale signs that you may need a new oil tank: 

  1. Exterior dents or rust. 
  2. Condensation or water build-up on the underside of the tank. 
  3. Unstable legs (a sign of poor installation).
  4. Inefficient oil usage. Feel like you’re burning through oil faster than usual? It could be because of a clog or other internal issue you can’t see. 

Your best bet is to have a professional take a look at the tank and inspect it thoroughly. Internal damage is easily overlooked by homeowners, but just as dangerous as exterior issues.

For example, many older tanks have a layer of sludge that builds up in the bottom of the tank, and can clog the fuel lines — that’s something a professional can tell you that you can’t inspect yourself. 

At the end of the day, with something as important as heating your home, it’s better to be safe than sorry if your tank is getting up there in years. Call Dunlap’s Energy today for a full inspection, and we can make the best recommendations for your oil tank needs.