Life Expectancy of Buried Oil Storage Tanks – Residential


Underground fuel oil tanks are increasingly becoming more of an issue as time goes on. The common life expectancy of a buried oil tank made of steel is 10-15 years, but at about 20 years the risk of leaks from steel underground oil tanks become higher. If one waits years beyond the life expectancy of a steel tank to remove it, then it’s likely that leaks will occur, which will incur additional costs to remediate. Leaks can also happen early if a tank was damaged at installation or was not properly plumbed. Also even if you think the tank is ok, young, and not leaking, buried oil tanks can be tightness tested for integrity. An oil tank can rust through from the inside out, which may ultimately result in a leak.

In normal scenarios when the out of date tank is removed from the ground and no leaks are found, the 30 or 40 gallons of fuel resting at the bottom of the old tank should not be transferred. Usually the fuel at the bottom is caked with sludge and microbial bacteria that can be harmful to the new tank and needs to be removed and properly disposed of.

With all this said, undertaking an oil tank removal project isn’t always as invasive as you think and today it is done more as a precautionary measure. After the tank is removed, and the work is performed in conjunction with the governing regulatory agencies while in accordance with all appropriate regulations and guidelines, in almost all cases, the property can be returned to its preexisting state.

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