The most common size oil tank in the Boston area has a capacity of 275 gallons. No matter what it is, 275 gallons of anything sounds like a lot and it is. However, imagine 275 gallons of heating oil leaking from your oil tank onto your basement floor. The good news is oil tanks typically leak very slowly. The bad news is they often sit behind boxes, old toys, debris and other clutter that is found in most basements. It is important to be able to recognize a leaking tank

Oil cleanup

With that said, the first sign an oil tank is leaking is a damp spot on the tank. These damp spots most often appear on the underneath of the tank or along the seam at the bottom of the tank. As the leak progresses oil will travel up the side(s) of the tank. If the leak goes undetected eventually black icicle-like deposit forms on the underneath of the tank. You may or may not notice an oil smell.

tank perf

As this deposit grows larger, reddish black spots will appear on the floor underneath the area. Depending on how long the leak goes undetected, an oil stain will begin to develop on the floor. Should you notice any of these signs of an oil tank leak contact your oil dealer immediately. Delaying can result in serious environmental and financial consequences. Law requires that an oil spill greater than 10 gallons be reported to the local Fire Department. The Fire Department then informs the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Now that you know the first sign an oil tank is leaking;

  • Clear out the area around your tank.
  • Be sure you have enough room to perform periodic visual inspections.
  • If you see any sign of a leak, do not touch the area.
  • Do not remove any deposits from the bottom of the oil tank.
  • Be proactive and contact your oil dealer right away to schedule a new oil tank replacement before the leak becomes significant and must be reported.

Finally, whether you are an automatic delivery or will call customer be sure to immediately suspend oil deliveries with your dealer. When the oil is pumped into a tank it creates pressure within the tank. This pressure greatly increases the risk that the leak will worsen. It is for this reason most leaking oil tanks are discovered within days of an oil delivery.